Monday, 27 February 2017

2 July 1881 - 'How to Make Clear Soup' by Phillis Browne

Having prepared our stock, strained it overnight, and left it in an uncovered vessel in a cool larder, the next question we have to ask ourselves is, "What shall we do with it?"

There is no room for doubt here, no matter how we may proceed afterwards. The first thing to be done is to clear away the fat, which will have settled in a cake on the top of the stock. If the stock is a jelly, we may take this off more easily if we use a metal spoon which has first been dipped into hot water, and after we have taken off as much fat as we can in this way, we must wipe the jelly and the basin with the corner of a napkin which has been wrung out in hot water.

It is said that people learned in cookery know of five hundred different kinds of soup. If this be true, it is probable that a large proportion of these soups are so much like each other that ordinary people could not discover the points of difference between them. It is also probable that a goodly number are made of clear soup. Besides, cooks who can make good clear soup can make all kinds of soup; and therefore we will begin our lesson now by describing the process of clarification.

Soup is sometimes made clear with white of egg, and sometimes with raw lean meat, beef, or veal, the medium in each case being the same – albumen.

I daresay you remember that when we were talking about boiling meat we said that we put meat which was to be eaten into boiling water for two or three minutes, in order that the albumen might harden on the outside and form a sort of shield to keep in the goodness of the meat. When we boil the raw meat in the stock the albumen hardens as before, but being mixed with the liquid it takes the impurities contained there with it, and all are collected in a mass together, and can be strained away.

We must not suppose, however, that it makes no difference whether we use white of eggs or lean meat in clarifying soup. Lean meat enriches soup, white of egg impoverishes it; and it is more profitable to clarify weak stock with lean meat than it is to clarify strong stock with white of egg.

As to the quantity of meat to be used for clarification, that must depend on the weight of meat employed in making the stock, not upon the measure of liquor which we have at our disposal. The proportion of meat needed for clarification is half a pound of lean meat for every two and a half pounds of meat used in making the stock, and the quantity of lean meat needed would be no less if in making the stock we had used half a  pint only of water to the pound of meat. Indeed, if the liquid were very strong we should find it an advantage to mix about a teaspoonful of white of egg with the raw meat, because strong liquids are more difficult to clarify than thin ones.

We will, therefore, suppose that we have stock made with two pounds and a half of meat, and that we are going to clarify it with half a pound of lean meat freed entirely from fat and skin. How should we proceed?

We must first cut the meat into very small pieces (if we have such a thing we may pass it through the sausage machine instead), and put with it a carrot, a turnip, and the white part of a good-sized leek, or, wanting this, an onion, but a leek is much the more delicate in flavour of the two. Of course we must wash the vegetables, scrape the carrot, and cut the turnip and the leek into small pieces. We may add also a stick of celery, half a bay leaf, a sprig of thyme and parsley, and half a dozen peppercorns.

We now pour the stock, already freed from fat, very steadily into a perfectly clean saucepan, being careful always not to disturb and also to leave behind any sediment there may be at the bottom of the vessel. We put the saucepan on a quick fire, stir the chopped meat and the flavouring ingredients into it, and keep stirring until a froth begins to form on the liquor. We then stop stirring at once, wait until the liquor rises high, draw the pan back instantly, and let it stand at the side of the fire for a quarter of an hour or so.

If we now take a little of the liquid in a silver spoon we shall find that part of it is bright and clear, and we can see the silver through it; the other is a sort of curd, mixed with vegetables and meat. This curd is the albumen which has hardened and gathered the impurities which were in the soup with it, and this it is which must be removed by straining.

Whilst the liquor is standing by the side of the fire we may prepare the strainer. A jelly bag is not the best thing we can take, because we want to pour the liquid in gently, and it is awkward to do this with a deep jelly bag. Better to take the thick flannel of which the jelly bag would have been made, wring it out of boiling water, and tie it to the four legs of a chair which has been turned upside-down on a table. The vessel  for the soup can be placed underneath the flannel, and the liquor can be poured on slowly and gently so as not to disturb the scum, which will serve as a filter  for the soup. Now, if my directions have been followed exactly I am quite sure that a beautifully bright clear soup will be obtained, and one that will taste pleasantly also when it has been boiled up again with salt and a small piece of sugar.

Perhaps girls feel inclined to ask, Must the flavouring ingredients be put into stock which has already been flavoured when it was made? Yes, they must. The quantities here given are for flavoured stock. If the stock were not flavoured at all, a larger proportion of vegetables would be needed. One secret of having well-tasting soup is to let it be freshly flavoured. The vegetables are put in here to revive the flavour, and the flavour needs reviving after the stock has been all night I larder. Otherwise the soup will have a stale taste, which will be anything but agreeable.

I may say in passing that it is this necessity for reviving the flavours which makes the difficulty with tinned soups. People often say that tinned soups taste of the tin, or, in other words, the flavour is stale. If they would take the trouble to boil a few fresh flavourers with a small quantity of fresh stock, and add this either strained, or in the case of purees rubbed through a sieve to the soup which is in the tin, they would find that the tinned taste was scarcely perceptible.

One point must be carefully noted in clearing soup, and that is – the cook must stop whisking instantly when the scum begins to rise; also, the pan must be drawn back as soon as the liquor bubbles. If the liquor is whisked too long, or boiled too long, the scum may sink down again, and the soup will be spoiled.

Another point to be noted is that the soup must not be clarified the day before it is wanted, or it will become cloud with standing.

It is astonishing what a number of soups may be made of this clear soup. Sago, rice, macaroni, vermicelli nouilles, pearl barley, tapioca, and semolina may all be boiled separately, then dropped into it, and the soup will then be called after the name of the distinctive ingredient. When spring vegetables, young turnips, carrots, or leeks are put into clear soup, it becomes printaniere, or spring soup. When these same vegetables are softly stewed in butter and cut into shreds it is julienne. When savoury custard (cut into diamonds or stars) is put into it, it is soup royale. If Brussels sprouts are introduced it is a Flemish soup; if crusts of bread, it is croute a pot; if homely vegetables, it is soup a la paysanne; if poached eggs, it is Colbert's soup. And so we might go on, jardinière, brunoise, chiffonnade, macedoine, nivernaise, and others are all clear soup, with very slight differences.

If there are any girls belonging to this class who try to follow my instructions and make some clear soup in the way I have described, I know quite well what the result will be. The soup will be excellent, bright, clear, and good, but they will feel that it has been a great trouble to make I should not be surprised if their state of mind were similar to that of the charity-boy mentioned in "Pickwick," who, when he got to the end of the alphabet, said, "Whether it is worth while going through it so much to learn so little is a matter of taste. I think it isn't." After all, important as cookery may be, there are other things to be done in the world, and though we might be willing to make the best clear soup for high days and holidays, it is more than probable that few would be able to give the time to it very often. Therefore, it will be an advantage to learn an easier and cheaper way of preparing it, so as to achieve very nearly, though not quite, as satisfactory a result.

The easier method is to use stock made of Liebig's Extract of Meat, instead of stock from fresh meat. A small quantity of this extract dissolved in a little boiling water will supply a clear straw-coloured liquor, which tastes quite sufficiently of meat, and which may easily be converted into excellent soup. Of course the difficulty here is the flavouring. We must so flavour this extract of eat stock that no one shall know what it was, but shall, if they think anything at all about the matter, regard it as a matter of course that the stock  for the soup was made in the usual way, "with trouble and charges," to use an expression of Izaak Walton's.

Whatever vegetables are used in flavouring this soup must be cleansed thoroughly and boiled separately. A little soaked gelatine may be boiled in the liquid, which must be skimmed thoroughly; and as soon as it tastes pleasantly, and before the vegetables are soft, the liquid must be strained off for use.

As to what flavourers we are to use in making the stock, the question must be answered by another – What flavourers can we get at the time? We need not always make our soup exactly alike. When we once get the idea we can vary the flavour according to the ingredients at our command. Supposing we want a small quantity of soup for a small family, let us flavour a pint of water pleasantly and rather strongly by boiling in it the white part of a leek, six or eight fresh pepper-corns, and a stick of celery, or a small pinch of celery seed tied in muslin; a turnip, a small carrot, and a little parsley can be added, if liked, or an onion with one or two cloves may be used instead of the leek.

We must cleanse and prepare the vegetables before using. Also we must remove the scum from the liquid as it rises, and boil in it about a teaspoonful of good gelatine which has been soaked in water for a while; then we dissolve a small quantity of extract of meat in fresh boiling water (I cannot say exactly how much, because extract of meat varies in quality – about a teaspoonful), strain the stock in which the vegetables were boiled, mix the two together, and add salt until the liquid is coloured sufficiently and tastes well. It should not be over-brown, and it should not taste specially of the dissolved extract, but rather of a combination of meat and vegetables. When wanted make it hot, and the soup is ready. When they are to be had, a handful of green peas or a little carrot and turnip finely shred and boiled separately are a great addition to this soup. A tablespoonful of crushed tapioca may be simmered in it till clear to make a change, or it may be thickened with arrowroot. Perhaps girls feel inclined to say, "What a small quantity you have made; there will not be enough!" Quite enough for a small family – that is, for four or five people. One reason why English people do not like soup is, that when they make it at all they make it in such large quantities that they get tired of it before it is finished. They have an idea that if they make soup at all they must make a gallon. A gallon of soup! Why, it would be enough for twenty people. If four persons were compelled to drink it day after day until it was finished, they would ever afterwards say they do not like soup. Let me advise girls to make a quart of soup to begin with, and if it is liked they can make a quart of another kind another day.

Fresh herbs are excellent for flavouring soup; tarragon leaves especially impart a delicious and quite unique flavour, although it is with tarragon as with celery seed – a very little goes a long way. Shallots and leeks are always to be preferred to onions when they can be obtained; they are more delicate in flavour. A ham bone is a perfect treasure for flavouring, but if we use it we must clarify the soup with a little lean meat or a teaspoonful of white of egg. Mushroom ketchup and prepared sauces, too, are valuable helps for flavouring soups when used very sparingly, but a soup ought not to taste of mushroom ketchup above everything. There is still another way of making clear soup, and that is by boiling broth to a glaze, adding water, and simmering gently. I fear, however, that space will not allow me to describe this now, besides which it is a little difficult for amateurs. I must, therefore, advise girls to try the plans we have been speaking of. In our next lesson we will try to make thick soups and purees.

Friday, 24 February 2017


The Tumblr is gone and I will have to redo everything I posted on it. I will delete all the broken links I can, but if I miss one please let me know. :( 

Thursday, 23 February 2017

25 June 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

Before WebMD there was the Answers to Correspondents in The Girl's Own Paper

MYRA S. – We decline to inform anybody "the size their waist ought to be." "A Ward in Chancery" is an infant under the protection of the Court of Chancery.

MAY. – Cover the canary's cage by all means at night if the room be cold or draughty. Dogs' biscuits are the best food.

SNOWSTORM. – Very finely powdered burnt alum to use, and alum-water as a gargle, are often useful in such enlargement. For your decanters try a little lemon juice and fine salt mixed, which may remove the mildew. A bottle rack is used for drying bottles.

SIGNORA MASANTE. – Your letter is one of those which gives us encouragement in our work. You would obtain a few lessons in hairdressing easily, but you would have to begin as young ladies' or second maid, as it is difficult to get a situation of the sort without previous experience. You will obtain it through an advertisement in a good paper. Your writing and composition do you credit, the only drawback to the former being the flourishes with which it is graced.

LORNA. – You send us five or six questions, which is more than your share. Do not plait your hair too tight, its sudden falling out was probably more due to your health than to your having plaited it. Put your dried ferns into a book, and fasten strips of paper across their stalks to keep them in their place.

M.V.V. – Avoid sugar and sweet things, and never take beer. Biscuits would also be better than bread. You might improve your writing by writing copies of running hand, so as to acquire more freedom with your pen.

A DROWSY SUBSCRIBER. – So many call themselves "subscribers" that we have to supply some distinguishing appellation. The extreme nervousness of which you complain, combined with an equally distressing degree of drowsiness, sleeping for three hours in the day, in addition to sleeping heavily through the night, shows you to need a personal interview with some good doctor. We could not venture to prescribe for you. You appear to be suffering from malaria.

A PECULIAR SCOTCH LASSIE. – We confess that we are unable to give a satisfactory solution of such a phenomenon as that described. The writer's case might have deserved record in the book of "wonderful people," for "her eyes make a noise when she blinks," and like some mechanical toy she produces a rattling all over! A peculiar "grating noise in her chest when coughing," and another "in her throat when swallowing." We sympathise with her, but can only recommend the visit of a doctor who can judge of these noises and their probable causes.

VIETCHEN. – Your case is a very extraordinary one. We cannot give a recommendation of any particular doctor, but may tell you the climate of the island of Sark (Channel Islands) is said to be most beneficial to sufferers from asthma Your handwriting is good. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

25 June 1881 - 'Seasonable Dress and How to Make It'

This month we learn that the Little Black Dress was as integral a part of a woman's wardrobe a century ago as it was today. 

Last month we mentioned the pretty old-fashioned ginghams had returned to fashion under the name of "Zephirs," and that they fully retained their former qualities of excellent wear and washing. Since then we have seen some charming dressed of pink, both plain, striped, and checked, which we must mention in the first instance. We always think how pleasant it is to be young, and to be able to wear a pink dress; they seem so becoming and suitable to the brightness of the fresh springtime of youth, that one feels glad when they are in fashion; and we like to clothe our human flowers with some of the lovely hues that our Maker uses for His "flowers of the field." Flowers and young girls should ever resemble innocence, purity and beauty.

These pretty dresses should be simply made. Both last month and this we have given suitable sketches for them – and the gatherings at the neck, sleeves, and front form a very pretty style. Nottingham lace is a good trimming for them, or Swiss embroidery; but they are quite as often made up with plaitings of the same, or bias bands turned up as a border, and sewn down on the outside with the sewing-machine. The bodices are made full, and gathered at the waist and neck, like the small figure in the June number.

The present seems to be an excellent time for purchasing black silks at moderate prices, and as a good black silk is unquestionably one of the best and most serviceable of dresses that any woman or girl can have, much care should be exercised in its selections. As far as we can see, about 5s per yard should purchase silk of good quality and wear, and there are several of the very best London drapers who both sell and recommend black silks at this price. We advise, when it is possible, that everyone who requires one should go to some well-known shop, and be guided by the advice there given in choosing. Very thick, ribbed, heavy silks should be avoided, and one of lighter texture be selected, as bright-looking on the surface as can be found. An old lady of our acquaintance used to choose black silk by holding it up to the light. If it looked of a greenish hue the silk was a good one, and she knew it would wear well. Another friend of ours takes up a fold of the silk between her finger and thumb, and, pressing it, makes a crease. If the crease should come out easily the silk is a good one; but if it remain, or should make a whitish mark, beware of purchasing it. We have ourselves found, however, that at a good draper's they will usually recommend a good article. Of course we make up our black and other silk dresses just now under great advantages, false or foundation skirts being used, generally made of alpaca, on which the silk may be suitable mounted as trimmings, kiltings, scarves and draperies; so we save the silk to the extent of four or five yards. Ten or twelve yards are nor generally sold for an ordinary short costume, so if we manage to make it at home, it will be seen that a black silk gown is within the reach of a very modest purse.

From an American source we glean a very clever and economical idea – i.e., that of having several plastrons or fronts to our "one black silk," which completely change its appearance, and give us walking, dinner, and evening dresses in one gown. The dress must, of course, be made en princesse in front, or the plastrons cannot be buttoned on. It forms the front of the bodice, and the apron or front breadth of the skirt, and is edged with button-holes if the buttons be on the dress, or hooks and eyes if preferred. One plastron may be of black velvet, edged with lace, or plain; high in the neck, and finished by a black lace frill. Another, for evening wear, might be of red, old gold, or violet satin, covered or trimmed with black or white lace, opening square or heart-shaped at the neck. A third might be of puffings or gathers, in damasse silk, brocade, or satin, to make it into a simple yet stylish walking-dress. A cuff or trimming  for the sleeves may also be arranged to match each plastron, such as a pair of long velvet cuffs to button on over the sleeves, with the black velvet one; or a pair of puffed sleeves to be sewn in with the coloured evening dress. The buttons may be of jet, and if they to be attached to the bodice and skirt they will do for every plastron.

Amongst the great boons to our clever readers, who are able to help themselves in trimming and altering dress, the fashionable Madras muslin must be named, a material which can be made useful in so many ways and over so many styles of dresses. The last time we saw an old black silk "done up," Madras muslin was the material used, and several of the pretty self-coloured sateens f last year have been remodelled this season with the aid of a few yards of this moderately-priced stuff. For an old half-worn coloured silk it is the very thing, and with a scarf tunic and draperies, gathered and puffed sleeves, and front, it becomes quite a new dress.

The fashion of coat bodices of different materials is a very useful and convenient one. They are made of velvet, velveteen, velvet broche, striped and chessboard velvet and satin. These last are all cheap now, as they are gone out of fashion, and the present stock is all reduced. Steel or silver buttons, or jet ones, are pretty, and no other trimming is requisite with them. We have recently seen some young ladies in the park in coat-bodices of red, or dull crimson cloth, with tiny gold buttons. These are worn with black silk, satin velveteen, or well-trimmed cashmere skirts. Also with cream-coloured and any fancy sateens which have red in the pattern. Perhaps this idea may be considered a happy one for a tennis club uniform, or a dress for the frequent lawn-tennis garden meetings, which constitute the chief amusement of the summer.

The Alsatian bows seem very great favourites with young girls, as well as older ones; and we have seen several very pretty turn-down hats decorated with one of these graceful bows on the top of the crown. They also form the great ornament of the favourite "Granny" and "Under the window" bonnets, which seem to be worn everywhere excepting in London.

Our illustration gives a lively party of girls enjoying themselves in a shrubbery. The dresses are all useful and pretty summer ones, which nearly any girl could arrange for herself. The figure standing by the table, with her hand upon it, wears a gingham, or zephyr costume, of pale blue, the trimmings being of Swiss embroidery. The bodice is gathered in front at the waist and on the shoulders; the sleeves are in rows of fine puffs all the way down; the over-skirt consists of two pointed shawl-shaped corners.

The second figure is made of cashmere and satin, the polonaise being of cashmere and the skirt of the same, trimmed with longitudinal plaitings of satin. The cape is of closely gathered satin, and is edged with a beaded fringe. The hat is a very small straw one with undulating wavy edges, and a spray of fern leaves, roses, and black velvet at the back.

The third figure wears a Mother Hubbard cloak of cashmere to match her dress, while the dress of number four is a brown beige, made up with a plaided or "shepherdess checked" beige of a darker colour. The hat is of white straw, trimmed with brown velvet, and brown ostrich tips shaded to yellow.

The young lady who holds a branch, and faces the reader, is the wearer of one of the pretty old-fashioned gowns which have been revived from the fashions of our grandmothers. Any light-washing material may be chosen for it. Each of the four flounces are headed by a puffing of the same, with a very small amount of fullness. The bodice is full, and has a band on the waist, while the pretty fichu is crossed over it, which fastens at the back. The small leather satchel which hangs at the side represents one of the newest and most fashionable shapes in which they are worn.  It is made of yellow leather, and has a leathern girdle, to hang round the waist.

In the second illustration, we find an old lady and a very little girl; both are intended as suggestions; for, in spite of ours being a girls' paper, there is no doubt but that our readers include many who are no longer girls, and a considerable number of mammas who are glad of a small bit of advice. The cloak of the elderly lady is of silk or cashmere, and that of the little girl a "Mother Hubbard" of grey beige, with trimming of blue. However foolish-looking we may think them as garments, there is no doubt that little girls do wear them, and look very well in them too, but they are only suited to the promenade and the park, and for very best Sunday habiliments.

The illustration given of a cloak is one suitable to any age, and which is worn by quite young girls. They sometimes match the dress material, or are of black cashmere and satin, or of satin only. A thin material like grenadine will probably be used as the summer advances, if it should prove pleasant and warm.

The shaded or ombre satins, and aerophane crapes are much used  for the tops of toque hats, and they are very pretty indeed, as well as becoming. The gathered edges of the hats are made of black velvet.

Monday, 13 February 2017

25 June 1881 - 'The Difficulties of a Young Housekeeper and How She Overcame Them' by Dora Hope - Chapter Eight

"So your friend is to arrive to-day, is she, Madge?" said Mr Colville, one morning in June, as they sat at breakfast. "Miss – Miss Dolabella – let me see, what is her name?"

"Dorothy, papa; Dorothy Snow."

"Sweet thing in names, certainly," remarked Tom. "I say, Madge, what is she like?"

"Well, I have not seen her for more than two years, as, being my senior, she left school before I did, and we have never met since. But I used to admire her immensely; she was very tall and very dark and handsome, and I thought her very clever, but then I think schoolgirls always exaggerate the good qualities of their friends."

"H'm, glad she's nice-looking," said Tom, complacently, with a glance at the pier-glass, as he fingered his collar and tie delicately with his finger tips, to make sure they were arranged as they should be. Tom was at that age when, though exceedingly boyish in many ways, he still felt himself very much grown up and manly. He began to feel an interest in the cut of his coat, and displayed even anxiety about the shape of his hats.

"Oh, my dear boy, she will very soon crush you if you evince admiration, I'm quite sure," said Margaret, laughing. "Do is so splendidly strong and tall, she could pick you up in her finger and thumb, almost."

"May we call her Do, too, Madge?" asked Dick.

"No; of course, you must say Miss Snow, unless she tells you you need not. She used to be so teased about her name at school, they always used to call her Do Snow, but I beg you won't do that."

The meeting between the friends was hearty and warm, for though a correspondence had been kept up they had not seen one another since the old days at school, and there would be large arrears of talk to make up during Dorothy's fortnight visit.

Margaret knew quite well that her friend's home was a more luxurious one than her own. With plenty of servants, it was not likely that she would take any part in household matters herself, and Margaret could not help wondering what she would think of the innumerable duties which devolved upon the mistress of the Colville household.

The morning after Dorothy's arrival, Margaret, with some little hesitation, asked if she would excuse her for half an hour, and having no idea of attempting to hide anything of the sort, explained that she usually made the pastry herself instead of trusting it to a not very efficient maid.

To her surprise, Dorothy begged to be allowed to come and help, or at any rate look on, for her mother had lately taken up the idea of her learning all about cooking and cleaning, and so, having been "learning hard" lately, she would be delighted to continue her education.

Of course Margaret was only too pleased, and so it happened that some of their merriest times were spent by the two girls in the kitchen.

One morning, as Margaret was tying on her large apron and rolling up her sleeves preparatory to a plunge in the flour tub, Dorothy bethought her of certain items of cookery in which she considered herself proficient.

"Did you not say, Margery, the Trents are coming to supper to-night?" asked she.

"Yes, they are," replied Margaret, "I want you to see Mrs Trent, she is such a good friend to me."

"Oh, then, do let me make some delicacies for supper!" cried Dorothy. "You need not look so alarmed, I can make a select few dishes beautifully. Now, if you will consent, you shall have the loveliest jelly you ever tasted, which will cost a mere nothing. Do you happen to have any very cheap claret in the house? That as 10d a bottle will do."

"No, I fear we have not, but Betsy shall go and get a bottle; or stay, perhaps, as she is a teetotaller, she might not like the errand, so we will go ourselves as my pastry will not be required."

"But we must provide something else for supper besides. One jelly is hardly enough."

"No, hardly. Let me see, there will be cold lamb and mint sauce –"

"Will you not have a salad with mayonnaise sauce also? I feel competent for that; even mamma praises my mayonnaise sauce."

"That will do very nicely, and with a dish of gooseberry fool, I think there will be enough. We do not usually make much difference  for the Trents."

After their purchases were made the girls set to work at their cooking, Dorothy having borrowed one of Margaret's aprons and pairs of sleeves.

"Now, look here, Margery, you ought to learn how to make this jelly; it is so nice and cheap withal," said Dorothy, as she uncorked the bottle of wine. "See now, I simply put into my earthenware pot 1 oz of gelatine,  a fourpenny jar of red currant jelly, the rind and juice of one lemon, 3/4 lb loaf sugar, and the claret. They are to simmer gently till the gelatine is melted, and then boil for five minutes. That is the whole process. Now I strain it into this mould, which has been standing in cold water meanwhile, and there you are."

"That is an easily made jelly, certainly," said Margaret, admiringly; "and I must say it looks nice too."

"I should think it was nice indeed!" Dorothy exclaimed. "At home, when we want it specially good, we put in a small cupful of brandy also. And when the jelly is turned out we pour round it some cream, sweetened and flavoured with almond or anything we choose. But it is quite good enough for ordinary occasions without these expensive adjuncts."

"Now,  for the mayonnaise sauce, Do. But would it not be better to leave the making of that til nearer the time?"

"Oh, no, it will not matter; of course, we will not pour it over the salad till just before supper. You have to put the yolk of an egg into a basin, so oh dear, how difficult it is to separate the yolk and white!) also a little white pepper and salt, and a quarter teaspoonful of mustard. Then you mix them well together."

"How much salad oil shall you allow?" asked Margaret, looking on with much interest.

"I believe tastes differ about that, but I have been instructed that 1/4 pint is about right. It must not be put in all at once, you observe, but just very slowly, drop by drop, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon, until about half of it is used. Next, I put in the least little drop of vinegar, Tarragon and the ordinary kind mixed, and then go on very slowly adding the remainder of the oil. There, this is turning out very well, as smooth as cream, and yet not oily-looking. Now it ought to have a teaspoonful of whipped cream added, but perhaps town milk does not yield cream?"

"Yes, it does, more or less," answered Margaret, fetching a basin from the pantry. "Betsy always puts it to stand when it comes in, and though the cream is not as thick as it might be, still we should not fancy our tea and coffee without it. Why, how clever you are, Do; and you pretended to be such an ignoramus."

"So I am; I have very nearly come to the end of my cooking capabilities already, and I know simply nothing of the management of a house. Now we must put this sauce in the very coolest place you have till it is wanted, and then, please, let me watch you make the gooseberry fool."

Margaret began by putting the green gooseberries into a jar with a little water, and a good deal of sugar.

This was set in a saucepan of boiling water, which was let boil till the fruit was soft enough to mash. After being reduced to a pulp, it was worked through a colander into a basin. Next some cold milk and cream should have been added, but as the latter was not plentiful, Margaret used a little corn flour instead. Allowing a pint of milk to the same measure of pulp, she put it on to boil, then mixed the corn flour (in the proportion of one teaspoonful to each pint of milk) in a cup of cold milk, and added it to the rest in the saucepan. After boiling, it was slowly stirred into the fruit. Margaret then tasted it, and made a wry face at the sourness.

"What, sour after all that sugar?" exclaimed Dorothy.

"Yes, it does take such a quantity," Margaret replied, as she added more, "and it is simply uneatable if you stint the sugar. Now you have seen the whole mystery of a gooseberry fool, so when I have told Betsy to be sure and put plenty of sugar to the mint sauce suppose we have a run round the garden before dinner?"

Mr Colville unexpectedly joined them at that meal. AS this was a very rare occurrence, he said he would be treated as a guest, and refused to take the head of the table, which post Margaret was anxious to vacate, declaring she would be far too nervous to carve with her father looking on.

"But you carve splendidly, Madge; I have often noticed and admired your skill," said Dorothy.

"I do better than some girls, I think, because it is not usually considered necessary for them to know how. I was determined to learn, because I have to do it so often."

"And it is certainly a very useful accomplishment," said Dorothy; "one feels so utterly stupid at having to refuse if asked."

"It is still worse to make the attempt and fail," remarked Mr Colville. "You know, Miss Snow, many people, ladies particularly, think it quite enough if they are able to cut a joint to pieces, anything beyond that they consider gluttonous Epicureanism. Of course, one undoubtedly enjoys one's dinner more if it be well cut, but the chief thing is that a joint goes twice as far, so it is most economical. And, as old Dr Kitchener says, 'A dextrous carver will help half-a-dozen people in half the time one of your would-be-thought polite folks wastes in making civil faces to a guest.'"

"What delightfully plain speaking," laughed Dorothy.

"The, every carver ought to know which is considered the best part of whatever he may be serving," continued Mr Colville, "for some people would be quite offended if, when dining out, they were not helped to, for instance, some of the thin part of salmon as well as the thick, or the fins of turbot, or if they had any other part than the wing of a fowl, the back of a hare, or the breast of turkey. However, I must defer the rest of my discourse on the merits of good carving til a more favourable opportunity, for I see it is time I were off."

The next day the two girls had betaken themselves to a pretty summer-house in the garden for a chat after dinner, when Betsy brought some letters to them which the postman had just left.

The summer-house was a rustic and, it must be added, an unsteady-looking erection. It had been built, at great pains and labour, by Tom and Dick, as a pleasant surprise for their father on his return from a recent short absence from home. They intended the family to have tea in it on the evening of Mr Colville's arrival; but Margaret thought she detected a slightly slanting tendency about the walls, and trembled  for the safety of her pretty tea-set, and likewise of their own heads. So she suggested tea on the lawn, from whence they could look at the summer-house, and, as she pointed out, see it much better than if they were inside. And a happy thing it was that her idea was carried out, for during their merry meal Dick stepped into the edifice, sand, to prove its strength, rashly shook one of the uprights with both hands. The whole affair tottered for an instant, and then entirely collapsed, burying the young architect in its ruins. The hapless youth, when extricated, was found to be unhurt (save in his mind, which was considerably wounded), and with the aid of a carpenter the summer-house once more reared its head in beauty and strength, surpassing its original state.

In fact, it could now be pronounced safe, and here it was that Margaret and Dorothy sat to read their letters that fine June day.

"Do you know, I think Betsy must have had a letter from her dear baker, she looked so beaming," said Dorothy. "I have heard from home, and mamma says she hopes I shall one day blossom forth into another such model young housekeeper as you are. But she does not seem very sanguine about it, I must confess."

"Now, Do, don't you flatter me so; pray, what have you been saying to Mrs Snow about me? I must write and tell her the truth. My letter is from Joanna, and I think I will read it out lout to you, because whether you like it or not, it will be very useful for your education. I asked a number of questions the last time I wrote, and she says, in answer to one apropos of my bill file, 'By all means keep your paid and receipted bills, all of them, excepting those for very trifling sums. Put them o file till the end of the quarter, then take them off, and having labelled and stitched them together, put them away in some safe place.

"For cool summer drinks nothing is better than different sorts of 'ades'. The nicest possible lemonade is made thus: - Remove the peel and every scrap of white, and also the pips, from three lemons, Slice them and lay them, with the peel of one, in a quart jug. Add half a pound or more of loaf-sugar, and fill the jug with boiling water. When cold, this is just as good as some of the complicated lemonades. Another pleasant drink is made by substituting  for the lemon slices of apples, peeled and cored. This does not require so much sugar and a squeeze of lemon improves it. Again, raspberry vinegar and water with lemon juice is very agreeable. All these are immensely improved by the addition of a lump of ice.

"Then you asked me, I think, about preserving –"

"Yes, I did," put in Margaret, "but I changed my mind, and am now going to be content with the fruit I bottled."

"I should like to hear about it, though, please," said Dorothy. "It may come in useful some day."

"Well, here are Joanna's sentiments on the subject: - 'Let the fruit be perfectly dry when you gather it – that is to say, no rain ought to have fallen for at least twenty-four hours previously. If it should chance to be showery weather, so that you cannot keep to this rule, boil the fruit an extra long time, or it will soon be mouldy. The fruit should be preserved as soon as possible after gathering. Use good sugar; it is economy in the end, as it requires less skimming, and hence there is less waste. As a rule, allow 1lb of sugar to one quart of fruit. Very economical people do not add the sugar till the fruit has boiled some time, and all the skimming is done; but I do not think the preserve would be thoroughly sweet, nor would it, I fancy, keep equally well. If you use a brass pan, be sure it is perfectly clean and dry; the least dirt or moisture left in it after the last time of using will have a produced verdigris, which, as doubtless you know, is deadly poison.'

"If you ever have to preserve, Do, take my advice and use an earthenware pan – then there is no danger of verdigris, and it would be much easier to clean," remarked Margaret. "But Joanna mentions the brass one because she knows we have one. Let me see – where was I? Oh, here is the place:- 'Have a good red fire – not a blazing one. Let the preserve boil as fast as possible, but be careful it does not boil over. Stir all the time with a wooden spoon, removing the scum as it rises. When it thoroughly boils, do not stir violently or you will mash the fruit, and the beauty of preserve is to keep it whole and distinct. If you leave off stirring, the fruit will stick to the bottom of the pan in a mass, and the whole will be spoilt. When it has boiled fast about twenty minutes, try a little on a plate; if it sets in five minutes or so, it is done enough. Pour it into pots, and when cold, cover it down. The best and simplest way of covering is to take a piece of paper the right size, brush it well over with white of egg slightly beaten, and press it over the pot. It will adhere firmly, and is quite airtight. An improvement to strawberry jam is to add red currant juice. Stew the currants in a jar in a cool oven till the juice is thoroughly out; strain it, and pour it into the strawberries, allowing the same proportion of sugar as for other fruit.'"

"Are you tired of this instructive letter, Do?" asked Margaret, laying down the third sheet. "Please say if you are. You see I ask so many questions, that Joanna's letters are necessarily rather long."

"No, indeed, I am not tired; pray go on if there is any more of the same nature."

"'Beans are in season now,'" continued Margaret. "'Gather them before they are quite full grown and throw them at once, after shelling, into boiling salt and water, with a bunch of summer savory, which is boiled with them, as mint is with peas. When done serve them in a vegetable-dish, with a piece of butter stirred amongst them, or else make a tureen of melted butter, in which is chopped the cooked savory.

"Arthur tells me that beans and bacon are quite an aristocratic dish now! I always considered it a very homely one. The two should be cooked separately, as the bacon spoils the colour of the beans. Put the former into cold, and the latter into *boiling water, when cooking them.

"Now I come to 'lastly', which is the rather unpleasant subject of the dust-bin. You must be most particular that no greens, cabbage leaves, and such like are thrown in, neither should there be scraps of meat or bone. In fact, try to keep it free from everything from which a disagreeable odour could arise. Then it must be cleared regularly once a week during the summer; do not on any account let it go longer, and now and then have the inside whitewashed. You might occasionally also throw in a little chloride of lime."

"There, Do, I hope you feel a great deal the better for hearing all of that?"

"Oh, Madge, I think it is well to be you to have such a sister. What would you do without her?"

"Indeed, I do not know," answered Margaret, folding up her letter. "But, you know, I feel dreadfully dependent on my friends, for in the least difficulty I always go, at least, write to Joanna. Then Mrs Melrose, the 'lady with ideas,' as you call her, is very kind in giving me hints; and then as to Mr Trent –"

"And as to Mr Trent?" interrogated Dorothy, mimicking her friend's done.

"Well," said Margaret stiffly, "I don't know that Mr Trent's acquaintance is of vital importance to my housekeeping."

"Oh, Madge, why you are ungrateful after the cunning way in which he extricated the stopper from the decanter last night."

"Did he do so?  It must have been whilst I was upstairs with Mrs Trent."

"Yes, it was most firmly fixed; we all tried in vain, when Wilfrid, with charming modesty, said he thought he could get it out. I fetched, at his direction, a basin of hot water, in which he plunged the neck of the decanter, tapping it gently on each side. Still it would not come out, so the ingenious thing asked for some oil, of which he put the last drop round the stopper, just where it enters the bottle, held it before the fire for a minute, and out it came in a twinkling!"

"Oh, it was rather sharp, perhaps," replied Margaret; "but it was a pity to spoil the sherry by mixing it with oil."

"Now, Madge, you are in a very contrary frame of mind. There was not much wine in the decanter, and it was not spoilt, because I very quickly wiped the inside of the neck with a clean serviette from the sideboard drawer. And even if it did taste oily, it could be used perfectly well for cookery. So you may just as well admit that Wilfrid Trent is a very clever, ingenious, handsome, good and altogether nice fellow; certainly he would admit the same and a good deal more of you."

"Particularly the 'fellow' part of it!" retorted Margaret. "No, Do; the first time he saw me I was most shamefully untidy and floury, being in the middle of pastry-making, and that filled him with a repulsion for me that he has never conquered."

But a merry look in the girl's eyes either belied her words, or else proved the fact in no way affected her peace of mind.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

18 June 1881 - 'How to Wash and Dress the Baby' by Ruth Lamb - Chapter Two

Perhaps someone who reads the title of this paper may be inclined to inquire, "Why do you write the baby, as if there were but one baby instead of millions in the world?"

Ah! Every mother knows why; and every loving-hearted young nurse knows why. "My baby," says the young mother, "is the baby of all the world." And "our baby" is the same to the members of the household, if they are of the right sort.

Knowing, as I do, how many mothers of all ages, as well as their daughters, come to the pages of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER, or apply to its editor, for information on all sorts of domestic subjects, I am most anxious to be of use both to them and their young folk. I feel especial sympathy for those who, until they became mothers, never had anything to do with the practical management of little children. Members of large families pick up their experience quite naturally amongst the little brothers and sisters, and the children of the elder ones furnish in turn a baby school for girl aunts. But where a girl is placed as I was (the latest-born and only survivor of a small family, whose only opportunity of nursing was with a borrowed baby, if there happened to be one in a neighbour's house) she is not likely to be very skilful in the management of a first arrival, at any rate, when she becomes a wife and mother.

Shall I ever forget my own awkwardness under such circumstances; my utter ignorance of the thousand little ways of making a baby comfortable; my yearning love towards the pink-faced girlie, and matronly pride in the possession of this living treasure, which an empire's wealth would not have sufficed to purchase?

Mingled with such thoughts was a lamentable sense of my own insufficiency and inability to discharge fitly the sacred trust which the possession of the helpless babe entailed upon me. And, as I lay in weakness, and saw skilful hands occupied about my little one and knew my deficiencies, even as regarded the care of its tender frame, other solemn thoughts crossed my mind about the living immortal soul of which that was the only covering.

"Lo! Children are an heritage of the Lord," says the inspired Psalmist, and this baby girl was, then, the first instalment which He had given to me. How comforting was the sweet thought that followed; "He who has bestowed will also teach me to treasure His gift and to nurse this child for Him!" I felt then, as I do still after many years, that if there is one human being who, more than another, needs to be instant in prayer, it is surely the mother to whom such a sacred charge is entrusted.

I smile sometimes when I look at the tall girls who call me mother, and who now, in the way of stature, look down on me, yet who run with willing feet in my service, and to save mine a needless step. I smile because I think of the time when I was their willing slave by night and by day, and far more frightened of the first, in her baby years, than all my children put together have ever been of me. But love is a good teacher – especially maternal love – and it is often said that babies bring that into the world with them, or they would never be cared for as they are.

I am not going to write directions suitable  for the first few weeks of an infant's life. During that early period it is usually under the care of an experienced or professional nurse. Even in the poorest of homes, when the parents' means are so small the mother cannot afford to pay  for the constant attendance of such a person, there is always some kindly neighbour who, without fee or reward, undertakes to wash and dress the baby.

My first advice shall be as to the preparation of the nurse for her work. Take to it in yourself a cleanly person and a good temper, which latter finds its outward reflection in a bright, cheerful countenance. Even the few weeks' old baby shows a marvellous susceptibility to externals, and it would be difficult to say how soon it begins to imitate, or to manifest pleasure at what it sees, if that be pleasant.

On the contrary, who has not noticed the shock which a baby receives from the sound of a harsh voice, or the sight of a sullen, angry face? I have seen a little creature gaze searchingly at its mother's countenance and, if there were no answering smile, the dear eyes have seemed to lose their dancing light, the sorrowful "pet lip," and perhaps a burst of crying has followed. The more intelligent the infant the more sensitive it is to what some would call trifles.

So, dear nurses, go to your care of the baby as to a real labour of love, and let the love shine in your faces, be heard in the ring of your voices, and be manifested by the absence of all impatience or hastiness of temper, even if you should have a very cross baby to deal with. Poor wee things! They cannot tell their troubles, and depend on it, if the baby is "fractious" it has some good reason for it, though you may not be able to find it out. So let your bright face, your endearing words, your cheery song, coax away the puckers from the face of your little charge if all these will do it. But in no case let its cross face be a reflection of your own.

Have nothing about you that can possibly hurt the little one. Rings, brooches, watch-chains, floating ribbons, and ornaments of all kinds are needless and out of place when you are busy with baby. Let your hair be smooth and tidy. Examine your dress to see that no stray pin has been stuck on the belt or waist, and that your sleeves are tucked up and fastened so that you neither get them wet nor have them loose and flapping about in baby's face.

Put on a wide flannel apron, of which every nurse should have two – "one to wash the other" – then you will always have a clean one for present use.

Be calm and patient about your work, neither hurrying nor occupying too much time over the washing and dressing business. Handle the little one very tenderly. Even if your work be one of necessity rather than of inclination, let the infant's helplessness pl with you; for member, a little impatience, a sudden jerk of those delicate limbs, might cause injury to your charge, and to yourself life-long repentance.

Inexperienced nurses are apt to become frightened and flurried if a baby cries, kicks, and screams. But, if the little one is in a passion, there is all the more need  for the nurse to be calm, and to oppose patience and firmness to its struggle and clamour. Keep thoroughly master of yourself, dear young nurse, and you will manage baby all the more easily.

Have every requisite ready to your hands before you begin, and let each article of clothing be so placed as to come in its proper turn; so that there may be no rummaging amongst garments, or running about to seek something that ought to be close at your side when wanted. Such neglect tries baby's patience, exposes him to the risk of cold, and you to blame for your want of system and forethought.

Mind that baby, when undressed or in the bath, is not exposed to a draught of cold air. You may guard against this by extemporising a screen in the shape of a clothes'-horse with a sheet or quilt thrown over it.

Here I would say a few words about the clothing of infants. It, as well as the bedding, should combine lightness with warmth. It is of far more importance that it should be plentiful in quantity, and good in quality, so as to secure cleanliness by frequent changes and comfort in the use, than very elaborate in workmanship, or much ornamented.

If much trimming is used, by all means let it be in the shape of soft cambric frills or narrow torchon lace.

Muslin work – especially if a laundress is so ill-advised as to stiffen it in order to make it set well – is a great cause of irritation to an infant's tender neck and arms.

A good nurse will pass her finger round the bands and along the seams of all clothing that is likely to come in contact with the child's skin. If she finds any roughness or sharp points, she rubs them before putting on the garment.

This is not the place to enumerate the articles which compose an infant's wardrobe; but I should like to mention one. The little lawn or cambric shirts worn during the first few weeks are usually made open in the front, from top to bottom. I have always used and recommended a shirt made of one width of the linen, with a single seam at the side, but open on the shoulders, on each of which it fastens with a small linen button and loop. It is slipped over the head so easily; there is no twisting of arms to get them into sleeves; it is quickly fastened, and, when on, it keeps its place and looks pretty, which is more than can be said of the old-fashioned open article, with its useless laps and generally untidy effect.

As a baby should not only be washed, but have a bath every morning, the vessel used should be large enough to hold it comfortably, but rather shallow. The temperature of the water should be about 90 deg., but, as young nurses have not always a thermometer at hand, they should try it with the back of the hand, or, as I have seen some old nurses do, with the tip of the tongue. The whole hand is not a safe test, especially if it be one accustomed to work, s the skin becomes hardened and can bear much greater heat or cold than it would be safe to use for an infant's bath.

I have read some terrible cases of suffering, and even loss of life, which have been caused by the carelessness of young nurses in not ascertaining the water was of a proper temperature before putting in the child.

Soap of a non-irritating quality and a soft sponge must be used. If the infant is quite young, the left hand must be placed below its neck so as to support the head above water. The whole body, including the head, should be well soaped and then gently sponged, care being taken to rinse well all the little folds and creases, so that nothing impure or irritating be retained there. Soft, half-worn towels of nursery diaper are the best to dry with, and this should be tenderly done with due consideration  for the delicate skin. The moisture should be absorbed from all bends and creases by gentle pressure – never by rubbing; though the back had limbs will be all the better for a little friction with the hand. Baby likes this when he is first undressed and after washing, and enjoys stretching his round limbs on his nurse's knee whilst she gives them a gentle chafing within reach of the warmth of a fire.

All the creases below the arms, knees, in the dimpled neck, behind the ears, between the thighs and body should be well powdered to prevent the chafing of the skin, and this ought to be done after every change of clothing or sponging, by night or day. A very able and experienced medical man, who has written a valuable work, within a very small compass, on sick and other nursing, advises the use of powdered starch for what we call puffing the baby.

Considering how much we have heard of the introduction of deleterious ingredients into what are called "violet powders," we must recognise the wisdom of this advice. It is of no consequence whether the powder is perfumed or not, but it is of the greatest importance that it should be pure and harmless. The powdering must never be neglected if baby's skin has been damped, so whenever sponging is requisite, the puff is also absolutely necessary.

One occasionally sees the scalp of an infant covered or patched with an unsightly crust. This is usually the result of insufficient or careless washing. At the first sign of it, the spot should be anointed with a bit of pure lard or a little olive oil. This will soften the crust, and it will generally come off during washing; but great care must be taken not to use any degree of violence to remove it. The simple application named and persistent cleanliness are the proper remedies both to take it away and prevent its recurrence.

A quite young baby needs, as I have already said, the supporting hand of the nurse to keep the head above water. An older infant that can sit up strongly and has learned to kick about in and enjoy the water, equally needs the watchful eye of the nurse, and should never be left in the bath for a moment.

A very little water and a very short time have proved sufficient to drown an infant before now, during the momentary absence of the nurse.

In fastening the clothes, use as few pins as possible, and let the pins be well-made safety pins. Wherever strings, buttons, and loops, or a stitch can be used instead, by all means substitute one of these. Always have a needle and thread beside you during the dressing process.

A second bath at night is not necessary, only light sponging o nurse's knee. The head should not be wetted I' evening, and after the morning bath the hair should be gently but thoroughly dried, and brushed with a very soft brush. Warm or tepid water is necessary during the first two or three years of a child's life, perhaps even longer in the cases of delicate children.

It is astonishing how very soon infants may be taught habits of cleanliness and regularly in taking food and rest. These things depend almost wholly on the care and attention bestowed by those who have the charge of them. Remember, dear mothers and young nurses, that it is from you, who are always about it, the little one receives its first and most durable impressions, whether for good or evil, and as regards both mind and body. Can you, then, e too careful with respect to what you do for it; or too prayerful and watchful over yourself in order that from you it may receive nothing but what is good?

After the bath a baby is generally ready for its food, and the meal is pretty certain to be followed by its morning sleep. If the mother nurses her infant herself and a young helper has washed and dressed it, the latter should put away the articles that are done with, empty and dry the bath, and expose night clothes and towels, if possible, to the open air. Never be in a hurry to wrap up clothing or cover up beds. Let them have plenty of fresh air, or at least as much as you can possibly give them. I ought to have said the moment baby is taken out of his cot, the bed should be shaken up and all the bedding spread out and thus exposed. It is an excellent plan to have two sets of sheets in use, one for nights and the other for days; then this airing can be well carried out.

Often, when travelling in Switzerland, I have been struck with the carefulness of the people in airing their beds. As you pass through a village in the early morning, if you look from the windows of the diligence, you will see the beds, which are small, light and much more portable than ours, hanging from every casement. They are turned over and exposed for hours to the fresh air and light, a process which must tend greatly to their purification and to the health of those who use them.

By all means imitate as far as possible this excellent example, and though our cumbrous beds cannot be hung out in like manner, we may give them the benefit of frequent exposure to air and light.

Baby's little bed or mattress, from its small size, has a better chance than any other, so let him have the full advantage of this.

In my next chapter I shall try to give simple instructions on "How to Nurse the Baby."

Monday, 6 February 2017

11 June 1881 - Answers to Correspondents - Miscellaneous

RITA – We must again request our correspondents not to ask the same questions over and over again, as we have not time or leisure to answer a question more than once, and it is wearisome to general readers. "Noblesse oblige" is a French proverb to signify that more is expected of those in high position and superior advantages than of their inferiors.

WATER WITCH – It is impossible to say whether the planets are inhabited or not, but we believe the last opinion formed by scientific men is that if they be, the people must be entirely different to ourselves.

M.F. – The "Onion Fair" at Birmingham takes place at about the end of August, or the early part of Spetember, the time probably being that when the onions ripen, and are taken from the soil. We hope you will continue all your studies, as no little girl could be sufficiently educated at fourteen.

CLARICE – Instructions can be given as to the usages of society in regard to some things, but no lessons can ensure "an attractive and pleasing manner." What is artificial and not habitual or natural cannot be attractive to those most worth pleasing. Habitual manner must be the expressions of the mind and heart. It is not usual to leave the room in parting with a visitor, except it be a friend so intimate that you chat with her to the door, or a stranger whom it would be advisable to see out.

DROFFIG – The lines are not worth printing. It is kindest to give a plain answer, as you can employ your time and good feeling in a better way.

A.B. – You are deficient in grammar, when you say that someone "wishes an introduction to my sister and I." Do not also be deficient in prudence.

A MAID IN TROUBLE – It would be well if you were as troubled about the inside of your head as the outside; spelling and writing are very poor.  For the hair any stimulating spirit may be as effective as bay rum.

Friday, 3 February 2017

11 June 1881 - 'Literary Work for Girls' by An Editor's Wife

The question of remunerative employment for women is becoming every day a more absorbing one. The time has, we believe, almost – would that we could say quite! – gone by when work of any and every sort was considered a degradation to a woman gently born and reared. Poets in all ages have sung glibly enough of the dignity of labour, but it is hard for us to realise the dignity when we find ourselves tabooed and thrust down in the social scale by virtue of our work.

Happily, this nineteenth century, which has so many evil things to answer for, has at any rate done us good service in materially altering the aspect from which women's labour is regarded. There is nothing so ennobling and invigorating to the mind as good honest work, whether undertaken of necessity or simply as a right use of the time placed at our disposal.

There is no such powerful incentive to perseverance and thoroughness as keeping before our eyes some definite object to be attained by our labour, and there are no such impartial critics of our work as those who gauge it by its market value, entirely apart from all sentiment whatsoever.

This is in itself as strong an argument as needs be why girls should, if they be disposed, turn their attention to remunerative work, even supposing other considerations to be absent.

The scriptural view of the matter the "labourer is worthy of his hire," applies indiscriminately to all sorts and grades of labourers, whether they be men or women, labourers from necessity or from a sense of responsibility; and she who labours well and thoroughly, with due qualifications for her task, deserves and is pretty sure to gain the hire which Christ Himself has declared to be her due.

"Well and thoroughly." Here is the great secret of women's work, and in no case does it apply more forcibly than with regard to the branch of work we have chosen as the subject of this paper.

"Surely literary work is the most pleasant of all ways of earning money," I have heard many a girl say. "There is no going from home among strangers, or weary plodding to and fro in all weathers, and no wear and tear of refractory children, as in the case of a governess, no terror-inspiring examinations and outlay for being taught, as with telegraph clerks, no expensive course of lessons or stern apprenticeship, as with art needlework, designing, or even such work as millinery and dressmaking. If only a girl possesses a talent for writing she can sit quietly at home and make money with comparative ease, and if she is really clever she gets known, and then see how well she is paid. How fortunate to be able to gain a livelihood with such ease!"

And then if the girl is of an energetic turn of mind she will very likely sit down and dash off a few verses or a story, and feeling quit assured that she has read many in print that were no better, she dispatches it to the editor of any magazine she happens to take in, and impatiently, yet hopefully, awaits the result. This is tolerably sure to be a refusal. The literary aspirant is cast down and somewhat indignant. She is so sure that many compositions not in any degree better than hers have been printed somewhere. She sends her manuscript off again in another direction with the same result. Then she arrives at the conclusion that editors are the most blind, unfair set of beings in existence. They might at any rate have deigned to say why they refused her composition. She throws down her pen in supreme disgust, utterly disheartened, and very probably never taken it up for literary composition again.

Now, granting that her own estimate of her work was right, which, however, it is little likely to be, any more than the estimate of admiring friends, and that her verses or story were really equal in merit to others she has seen in print, is there any reason, apart from the blindness and exclusiveness of editors, why she should have failed? This is the question that we will endeavour fully to answer in this paper.

I will quite agree with my would-be literary girl that writing is a pleasant and profitable occupation, well adapted from many points of view for supplying a means of income without the attendant disagreeables attaching to many other employments. I will add, that never at any time was there such a field open to the literary worker as at this moment when magazines are multiplied and "of making books there is no end."

But I can go with her no farther. Literary work is not easy, at any rate to a vast number of those who live by it; it cannot be entered upon without training, and it requires much more than mere talent. The thorough practical training  for the work is even more advantageous than a decided talent devoid of cultivation, although I will not be rash enough to affirm that talent is unnecessary. But that it is useless without training I am firmly persuaded. On another point, too, I must differ from my disheartened girl friend. Editors are by no means the dragons that many people paint them. What they may have been in past days, I cannot say, but my own experience is that they are as a rule most kind and courteous, and only too ready to accept a manuscript that really meets the requirements of their magazine in all their particulars; for, incredible as it sounds, the number that comes under this category is surprisingly small.

My girl readers would not wonder that their MSS have received such summary treatment, if they could see the formidable pile of papers lying each morning on an editor's table. I should like the discontented literary aspirant to have practical experience of the work of examining, sorting, reading, and returning just for one day, and her only wonder will be the editor has not thrown her manuscript with a score or two of others at once into the waste paper basket, without even going through the brief form of rejection which has so roused her indignation. Fancy, if you can, the Editor of THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER writing some twenty or thirty such letters every day as the following, besides having to wade through the twenty or thirty accompanying MSSS, in every style of undecipherable handwriting, and probably varying in length from a page to a fair sized volume:-

"DEAR MADAM, - I am extremely sorry to be obliged to return your MS. In the first place, the story is three times as long as the greatest length we allow for short stories, and only about a third of the length required for a serial. Besides this, the interest is not sufficiently maintained, the characters are too unreal, and the whole tendency of the plot so extremely romantic that I am afraid it would give our girls very false notions of life. The writing, too, bears evidence of inexperience, the composition of many sentences being even grammatically incorrect. Under these circumstances I am compelled most reluctantly to reject your story. I would willingly accept it, so far as I am concerned, for I am sure you have taken great pains, and there are many very pretty ideas in it; but I am afraid the girls would not consider it sufficiently interesting, and that their parents would not approve the tone. Unfortunately, we are obliged to consider these points, as we would rather sell THE GIRL'S OWN PAPER than give it away. If you would quite alter the plot of your story, making it more practical, and in some way connecting the incidents; if you could make the conversation less frivolous and the characters a little more sensible, and if you would alter all the sentences that are not well expressed, I should be happy then to look at it again.

"With many apologies for wounding your feelings, I remain, dear madam,

"Your humble servant,


There, girls! It looks rather weak in print, doesn’t it, but isn't that the sort of letter that you really wanted? And I can assure you that would be but a mild criticism of the inappropriateness of most amateur contributions sent to editors. Besides these, there is another class of contributions quite as useless, but far more distracting. Every editor knows them only too well. Shall I give you one brief example?

"DEAR SIR, - I send you herewith a MS., which I earnestly entreat you to accept. I am in the sorest need – an aged curate with a large family and small income. The long illness and recent death of my wife has reduced me to penury. My own health is failing, and, the new rector of this parish not requiring my services, I am thrown destitute upon the world. My only hope is that I may by happen be able to maintain my family until I obtain something else. Unless I have ten pounds by next Friday my belongings will have to be sold. Oh, sir, in the name of that religion which your paper so ably advocates, help me to avoid starvation, beggary, and disgrace. There is nothing before me but the workhouse, unless you can give me a start in your valued paper. I beseech you do not dash away my last hope…"

How do you think the editor feels over a letter like this? The article is perhaps some abstruse theological treatise, deeply learned, no doubt, but containing, maybe, extraordinary views which no one would look at, unless they emanated from some celebrated man. If the editor were to accept it no one would read his paper, and he knows very well if he gives this poor man the least encouragement he will probably be deluged with other similar compositions. He can, therefore, only return it, with the usual short form of rejection which seems so cruelly hopeless to the disappointed author. Yet if the editor were to make it his business to instruct would-be litterateurs in the art of writing, what would become of his magazine, or when, indeed, would the girls get their paper? And this is no overdrawn picture. Even more distressing circumstances than this are brought to an editor's notice, so that he is not unfrequently tempted to afford the help out of his own pocket which he dares not supply in his editorial capacity.

Therefore I say that if an editor even looks at all the MSS and letters he receives he is very good, but if he returns what is unsuitable he is a paragon of kindness. This is the honest opinion of one who has had some experience both of rejecting and being rejected. Then, what is wanted to enable a girl to use her pen profitably? First, ability; secondly, TRAINING; thirdly, powers of discrimination and observation.

I need not dwell much upon ability. Although it is the first thing, it is in some respects the least of the three essentials: that is to say, a comparatively small amount of ability combined with the other two qualifications will go further than a large amount of ability devoid of the. A vivid imagination is very necessary to the writer of fiction, but if unaccompanied by education and experience it will be of little use to her, whereas these two latter would very likely enable her to write plain, practical articles without the aid of the former, especially if she be possessed of sound common sense. Patience and perseverance, I need hardly say, are needed by authors of every class.

We see, then, that although exceptional talent is undoubtedly required to make an exceptional writer, the absence of any extraordinary intellectual ability need not be regarded as an entire disqualification.

Now, to come to the question of training; and this is indeed a wide and important side of my subject. It has indeed been the point where women's work has generally failed, though I am glad to see each day is carrying us on the right direction, and opening the eyes of women to its importance. We must always remember the fact that there are always more, far more, girls willing to work than there are openings for them. Thus the best qualified, as a matter of course, come best off. "As a rule those who can supply what is really required, meet with those who will purchase their merchandise. It is inferior workers whose labour brings no profit," says an experienced writer upon the question of women's work, and her remarks are as true of literary as of any other branch of work.

When boys set themselves to learn a business, the same writer remarks, they bend all their energies to the accomplishment of the end they have in view. All other matters are made subservient to it. But girls imagine they can take up an occupation without any sort of special training. Is it any wonder that women's work is regarded from quite a different standpoint, and depreciated often beyond its just value? Another lady of great experience says:- "Partial training has been the ruin of many attempts to gain new employment for women. It is often spoken of as desirable that they should do 'a little work,' but the 'little' which is meant to apply to the matter of quantity is transferred to that of quality, and this effectually bars the way to success.  It is very undesirable to see a lowered standard for women's work, and yet what reason is there to expect the attainment of a higher one in any way, but with the same amount of time and labour given by young men?" Another writer says:- "After an experience of life, neither very small nor very brief, I must candidly confess that my difficulty in trying to help my own sex has not been so much to find work as workers – women who can be relied upon – first to know how really to do what they profess, and next to have conscientiousness and persistency in doing it."

It is needless to multiply examples. All those who have deeply considered the subject have arrived at the same conclusion – that want of training is a principal cause of want of success to women-workers.

In the case of literary work, how is such training to be effected, supposing, for instance, the girl's education is considered finished before the idea of writing has occurred to her?

In the first place, if she is not already well qualified in that direction, she ought persistently to follow up the study of composition, which she can easily do with the aid of such books as are to be had, if she have ordinary intelligence. In the next place, she must read widely and observantly good literature in order that she may obtain command of language, that she may acquire the habit of looking at a subject from diverse points of view, and form an enlightened opinion upon men and things, for we are all of us, even the most original minds, greatly influenced and educated by the thoughts of the great men and women who have gone before us. An authoress of some reputation once said to me, "Nothing displays to you your own ignorance more vividly than writing. I was quite overwhelmed with my own ignorance when I began to write. I was continually finding myself landed, unconsciously, as it were, upon subjects of which I felt I was too ignorant to speak with authority, and in the midst of a paper upon some particular topic, I would find my thoughts had carried me along to side questions, necessary to be considered, but which I was obliged to stop and carefully study before I could write accurately."

Does not every girl reader perceive how this literary aspirant was giving herself the very training she required?

A very necessary point in magazine writing is to be able to say what you have to say in a given space. It is excellent practice to choose a subject, and allow yourself a certain number of sheets or lines in which to treat of it, rigidly adhering to the space assigned, while at the same time endeavouring to state the whole matter clearly, concisely, fully, and attractively. If the article fails in any one of these points, the author should regard it as she would an ill-worked problem in Euclid – only fit to be destroyed – and set herself to work out the problem over again. Does this seem very discouraging? Without such patient labour, no success can be hoped for.

And when our girl author has conquered the difficulties of composition, has acquired the art of expressing herself clearly and fluently, and has by a diligent course of reading acquainted herself with the views of distinguished thinkers upon all sorts of subjects, and learned moreover to think out a subject clearly and logically for herself, what more is required of her before she may attempt to send an article to an editor with a reasonable chance of success? Why, the practical application of the qualifications she already possesses to the subject she has in hand.

To explain more fully what I mean: it will be best to glance at the principal reasons why articles and stories intended for magazines meet with rejection, even when they are carefully and thoughtfully written. One great reason is inappropriateness of subject, or a treatment foreign to the expressed or understood policy and lines of the journal; and another, scarcely less important, is the matter of length, most amateur papers being written with an utter disregard to the nice balancing of articles and stories in a periodical journal which may be almost termed the alphabet of editorial work.

Here it is the powers of observation and discrimination must come in. The magazine writer must be able to observe what are the tendencies and scope of the journal she hopes to write for, and about what space is allotted to the kind of paper she proposes to write. She must then cast about for a subject, which, while being sufficiently original, will, she believes, be one likely to fall in with the editor's ideas of suitability; and everything depends upon her nice discrimination of this point. It is not so much what best pleases her as what is most likely to please that particular portion of the community for whose delectation the journal exists. This quick perception of the fitness of things is as invaluable as it is indispensible to a successful magazine writer.

So far I have confined myself to the consideration of magazine writing, because the field of literature is not only one of the widest and most diversified, but also because it yields the quickest return for a certain amount of labour. There are, I should say, few literary aspirants who would be so rash as to attempt the gigantic task of writing a book until they had gained some sort of footing by the publication of less ambitious efforts. The consideration of the best way to proceed with such an undertaken as a continued story or work of fiction is too wide to enter upon here, and must be reserved for a future article.