Friday 24 December 2010

Serving Suggestions

For those of you struggling with the etiquette as you invite you family for Christmas lunch, here is the correct order in which the staff should attend to them:-


Among Gentlemen, who ought to be served according to their respective ranks.

(The footman should study the following tables of riority of rank among persons of distinction, a knowledge of which will enable him to evince peculiar tact in his situation, and save his master or mistress much trouble in directing him when waiting at table.)

1. Queen's Sons
2. Queen's Brothers
3. Queen's Uncles
4. Queen's Grandsons
5. Queen's Nephews
6. Archbishop of Canterbury
7. Lord High Chancellor
8. Archbishop of York
9. Lord Treasurer
10. Lord President of the Privy Council
11. Lord Privy Seal
12. Lord High Constable
13. Lord Great Chamberlain of England
14. Earl Marshal
15. Lord High Admiral
16. Lord Steward of the Household
17. Dukes according to their Patents
18. Marquesses
19. Dukes' eldest sons
20. Earls
21. Marquesses' eldest sons
22. Dukes' younger suns
23. Viscounts
24. Earls' eldest sons
25. Marquesses eldest sons
26. Bishop of London
27. Bishop of Durham
28. Bishop of Winchester
29. Bishops according to their seniority of consecration
30. Barons
31. Speaker of the House of Commons
32. Viscounts' eldest sons
33. Earls' younger sous
34. Barons eldest sons
35. Knights of the Garter
36. Privy Councillors
37. Chancellor of the Exchequer
38. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster
39. Lord Chief Justice of the Queen's Bench
10. The Master of the Rolls
41. The Vice Chancellor
42. The Lord Chief Justice of the Common Fleas
43. Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer
44. Judges and Barons of the Exchequer according to seniority
45. Knights Bannerets royal
46. Viscounts' younger sons
47. Barons' younger sons
48. Baronets
49. Knights Bannerets
50. Knights of the Bath Grand Crosses
51. Knights Commanders of the Bath
52. Knights Bachelors
53. Eldest sons of the eldest sons of peers
54. Baronets' eldest sons
55. Knights of the Garters' eldest sons
56. Bannerets' eldest sons
57. Knights of the Baths' eldest sons
58. Knights' eldest sons
59. Baronets' younger sons
60. Sergeants at law
61. Doctors, Deans, and Chancellors
62. Masters in Chancery
63. Companions of the Both
64. Esquires of the Queen's body
65. Gentlemen of the Privy Chamber
66. Esquires of the Knights of the Bath
67. Esquires by creation
68. Esquires by office or commission
69. Younger sons of the Knights of the Garter
70. Younger sons of Bannerets
71. Younger sons of Knights of the Bath
72. Younger sons of Knights Bachelors
73. Gentlemen entitled to bear arms
74. Clergymen not dignitaries
75. Barristers at Law
76. Officers of the Navy
77. Oficers of the Army
78. Citizens
79. Burgesses
80. Married men and widowers before single men of the same rank

Precedency among Ladies.

1. Daughters of the Queen
2. Wives of the Queen's sous
3. Wives of the Queen's brothers
4. Wives of the Queen's uncles
5. Wives of the eldest sons of dukes of the blood royal
6. Wives of the Queen's nephews
7. Duchesses
8. Marchionesses
9. Wives of the eldest sons of dukes
10. Daughters of dukes
11. Countesses
12. Wives of the eldest sons of marquesses
13. Daughters of marquesses
14. Wives of the younger sons of dukes
15. Viscountesses
16. Wives of the eldest sous of earls
17. Daughters of earls
18. Wives of the younger sons of marquesses
19. Wives of archbishops
20. Wives of bishops
21. Baronesses
22. Wives of the eldest sons of viscounts
23. Daughters of viscounts
24. Wives of the younger sons of earls
25. Wives of the sons of barons
26. Maids of honour
27. Wives of the younger sons of viscounts
28. Wives of the younger sons of barons
29. Wives of baronets
30. Wives of the knights of the garter
31. Wives of bannerets
32. Wives of knights grand crosses of the bath
33. Wives of knights commanders of the bath
34. Wives of knights bachelors
35. Wives of the eldest sons of the younger son, of peers
36. Wives of the eldest sons of baronets
37. Daughters of baronets
38. Wives of the eldest sons of knights of the garter
39. Wives of the eldest sons of tannerets
40. Daughters ei bannerets
41. Wives of the eldest sons of knights of the bath
42. Daughters of knights of the bath
43. Wives of the eldest sons of knights bachelors
44. Daughters of knights bachelors
45. Wives of the younger sons of baronets
46. Daughters of knights
47. Wives of the companions of the order of the bath
48. Wives of the esquires of the Queen's body
49. Wives of the esquires of the knights of the bath
50. Wives of esquires by creation
51. Wives of esquires by office
52. Wives of younger sons of knights of the garter
53. Wives of the younger sons of bannerets
54. Wives of younger sons of knights of the bath
55. Wives of the younger sons of knights bachelors
56. Wives of gentlemen entitled to bear arms
57. Daughters of esquires entitled to bear arms
58. Daughters of gentlemen entitled to bear arms
59. Wives of clergymen
60. Wives of barristers at law
61. Wives of officers in the navy
62. Wives of officers in the army
63. Wives of citizens
64. Wives of burgesses
65. Widows
66. Daughters of citizens
67. Daughters of burgesses

In addition to the above Regulations, observe

1. That preference is to be given to persons of superior age of the same rank.
2. That ladies of all ranks are to be served before their husbands.
3. That, among ladies, wives rank first, widows next, and unmarried ladies last.
4. That strangers are, in all cases, to be served first, and the young ladies of your own family last.
Note, also, that at public meetings in the country, preference is usually given to the lady of the greatest land-holder. 

The Footman, His Duties and How to Perform Them, 1855

Thursday 23 December 2010

The Housemaid, Her Duties and How to Perform Them

One last pre-Christmas digitisation - The Housemaid, Her Duties and How to Perform Them, a publication from 1870, which - I'm guessing - was perhaps intended to be handed out to servants by the mistress of the house, as much as to be purchased by aspiring servants (or their employers) for their own personal benefit. The bits I most like are the details on slops:

The pails and cloths which are used in this service are never, on any account whatever to be taken for any other purpose. It is not enough to empty out the dirty water which is left in the basins, and then to wipe the basins dry : the clean water that is left in the ewers and bottles must all be emptied out too, with a good rinsing, and fresh water put in every day. When everything is emptied into the pails, these pails must not be left standing so much as five minutes. They are a disagreeable sight; and besides, a great number of accidents have happened from persons falling over pails which the housemaid has left standing where they have no business to be. Heedless children, and old people, who do not see well, have caught many a fall in this way, for which the housemaid has had to blame herself. The pails should be carried down at once, emptied, and set standing bottom up to dry, and prevent any bad smell hanging about them. The housemaid will then carry up with her two pitchers or cans, the one with fresh soft water for the ewers, and the other with spring water for the bottles. From these all the ewers and bottles are to be filled, unless it be sweeping day. In such a case, instead of filling the vessels, Mary will put the bottle into the empty ewer, and the ewer into the basin : she will double up the towels, and lay them on the top of the ewer, and cover all with a cloth, that no dust may reach them from the sweeping of the floor.
And how lights were managed:

The use of gas in towns has in a great measure tended to lessen the use of candlesticks, and the recent introduction of lamps and hand lamps, in which mineral oil or petroleum is burnt, has tended even more to bring them into disfavour. Petroleum is preferable to animal oil, and even better than vegetable oil, as, being a spirituous oil, or one in which oil and spirit are in combination, it does not soil or grease to the extent to which purely fatty oils will. Benzoline requires careful usage from its aptness to explode if it come into contact with a lighted match, etc. The great objection to petroleum lies in its apparent oozing through the receptacle in the lamp in which it is placed, and imparting a coating of oil to it, which in due time trickles down the shaft of the lamp, rendering it most unpleasant to handle. The housemaid should never place a lamp in which petroleum is burned on the table without first wiping the shaft and oil well of the lamp with a soft cotton cloth, and the outside of the lamp should always be thoroughly wiped when the lamp is trimmed in the morning.
     The burners of gaseliers, etc., often get encrusted with dirt, owing to the settlement of dust on the exterior, which after being used a short time, gets covered with an oily residuum from the gas consumed. These should be carefully wiped, at least once a week, with a soft cotton cloth.
     Every part of a trimmed lamp should be as clean as a glass tumbler. If all the passages are not quite clear the air will not pass through, and the lamp will burn badly. If the glass chimney and shade are not as bright as a mirror, the flame will seem dim. If a drop of oil is left to soil the ladies' fingers, or to spot the table, the family have a right to be vexed with the housemaid. Many families have so great a dread and dislike of this kind of dirt, that they trim their lamps themselves—thus showing a want of confidence in the housemaid, which must grieve her very much, if she feels that she has deserved it.
     This part of her business being done, all the lights ready for night, and the shorter ends of candle being fixed on save-alls for kitchen use, Mary once more washes her hands, and goes to prepare the drawing-room, as she prepared the dining-room before breakfast.

If you read the whole thing, you'll find it also contrasts the role of a country servant with a town one - no massive revelations, but still quite detailed and interesting.

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Walking Down Piccadilly, 1870

A saunter down Piccadilly in 1870, courtesy of Fun.

There are few streets whose appearances at different times in the day vary more than that of Piccadilly. At early dawn groaning market-carts, cabbage-laden, and creaky-axled, toil slowly along it, the drivers. with a strange semi-rustic look, trudging beside  them. These carts are more pleasant to look at and smell just now than they will be later on their return journey from Covent Garden, lorded with manure for the market gardens.
    Presently, as it grows lighter, the early coffee-stall at Hyde Park corner vanishes like a goblin at the approach of day. The early work folk have passed to their labours, and partaken of the delicacies it offers, so its task is completed. Have any of our readers ever tasted the spirit, of mysterious manufacture, which is at times procurable at such stalls? If not, let us recommend them to abstain—it is needless to warn them against a second haste if they have once tasted and survived. It is said to be made out of old rope. and its choking capabilities are more painful in this form, we should think, than as an outward application to the throat.
    And now come the shop-girls tripping along, sprinkled with a few clerks whose business at the other end of the town calls them forth betimes. Later comes the luckier clerks of the West End, the Civil servants—fortunate fellows, who have the pleasure of surveying the aforesaid shop-girls, busily engaged in dressing the windows.
    By eleven or twelve the ordinary stream of life flowing eastward and westward occupies this broad channel, and it has little of special character until the afternoon. Then come the swells, the faultless swells, to saunter in the Park or take a turn in the Burlington. And where they are the Soiled Doves will gather, like the vultures about a carcass. They perceptibly leaven the Park, but they have the Arcade almost entirely to themselves. By some occult instinct, after a certain hour close on noon, ladies shun the covered promenade; even the girl of the period dares not carry her imitation of Lais so far as that!
    Meanwhile Piccadilly is densely crowded with carriages and horses of every description, from the aristocratic chariot to the plebeian 'bus. For there is a republicanism about Piccadilly which is not shared by other streets lying close upon it. It is more democratic than Bond Street and St. James's-street, while Pall Mall has nothing in common with it, and is so grand and so dull that one quite pities the War office clerks for not having a more lively view from their windows!
    The roadway of Piccadilly is crowded with fine equipages and shabby growlers, with the barouche of Rank, and the brougham of Beauty (not always unadorned) ; with the mail-phaeton of the guard's-man, and the hansom of the private not in the Guards; with the curricle, and the cab, and the cart.
    This is the time to see Piccadilly, for as its roadway is choked with vehicles so its pathway is crammed with pedestrians, of as many different classes as the vehicles. That is a peer of long creation— that is a bankrupt of yesterday's making. Here is a pure sweet woman, going mayhap on an errand of mercy—yonder trips painted Vice, going to spread its snares for gilded youth.
    Mind you, the street itself is a wonderful study, without a word about the people in it. Beginning from SWAN AND EDGAR'S, you pass that strange fossil the Geological Museum, and that recent formation the St. Jame's hall, which is a conglomerate of dinners, Christy Minstrels and other entertainments. St. James's Church, with its ugly modern sham-antique gate, and Burlington House with its present frontage, unpretentious in everything save ugliness, balance each other; and then comes the Egyptian hall, with the multifarious WOODIN, and the two huge Egyptian figures trying to pretend they don't notice what goes on in the Arcade over the way.
    Then you skirt the Wellington, and pause to weep over the departure of the good old coaching days outside the White Horse Cellar —then away, past FRANCATELLI'S by many a noble residence looking over the Green Park. More than one noted residence has of late changed hands„ and its noble owners have been succeeded by clubs. One has been kept closed and uninhabited for years! So you come to Apsley House, and the WELLINGTON statue, and the Park, and St. George's Hospital. That is the climax of Piccadilly—after that it dwindles, to lose all its individuality near Tattersall's.
    And as the street dwindles after Hyde Park Corner, so its glory dwindles as the evening closes in. The swells have gone home to dinner, the humble folk have gone home to tea. Later and later, the traffic diminishes in quantity, without improving in quality. Toward the small hours noisy cabfuls from the haunts in the Haymarket, which innocent people believe to have been quite extirpated by this time, awake the echoes of Piccadilly. They become fewer and farther between, until the clump of the policeman's boots is almost the only sound; and another day has completed its round in the existence of Piccadilly.
Fun, 1870

It's Like Piccadilly Circus down there

A 'comic section' of Piccadilly Circus, imagining an extension of London's underground domain, from Fun magazine in 1901. Note the dedicated mains for tea, coffee, cocoa and fizzy water, as well as sea-water, which the Victorian considered very healthy, for bathing purposes.

Monday 20 December 2010

Street Life

Three street 'characters' from Streetology of London, 1837:

Steady on!

So, what is this image, and what's it doing in this respectable blog - any ideas?

Now, maybe I just have a dirty mind, but doesn't it look quite - ahem - suggestive?

Read the text and you find 'Harry climbed upon Percy's shoulders and extended himself down his back; then stretching out his own legs and arms ...' and a good more detail beside.

Happily (or sadly, depending on your interests) this was not some homoerotic attempt at expanding the Kama Sutra, but rather the Strand magazine (1897) employing the 'Three Delevines', music-hall acrobats, in an attempt to display the entire alphabet in human form, an article called 'The Human Alphabet'. Here's the finished product:

It is interesting that my immediate reaction to this was to think about sex, and I wonder if the Victorian readership were equally suggestible in that regard. Probably not. Whilst you'll find many Victorians complaining about the very existence of female acrobats (wearing tights, no less!), I don't think I've ever heard any connection made between male acrobats and sexuality. If anyone can cite an example, I'd be interested to hear it.

Saturday 18 December 2010

The Living Dead

Probably the strangest Victorian piece of humour I have ever read. It's a satire, imagining the loss of friends, of youth, of enthusiasm, as a literal death. The result, however, is a Victorian London populated by zombies; and one of the most depressing things I've ever read. Indeed, you almost wonder about the author's mental state. If you have a gothic sensibility, read on:


     AN Irish gentleman of our acquaintance, when his new suit of mourning came home, began to moralize on the uncertainty of life. "Mortality," said he, "is more fleeting than the fashion of a coat. Who can say that his spirit may not cast off its garment of flesh, even before the gloss has departed from his new waistcoat. Alas! I ordered this mourning for my friend, and may yet be destined to wear it for myself!"
     We often laugh in the wrong place, and create the bulls we fancy we discover. It was easy to see, by the aid of a minute's reflection, that this was no blunder at all, except in sound. On the surface it is merely a ludicrous absurdity ; beneath that, lies a world of grave meaning, and lessons of the profoundest and most melancholy truth. The provocation to laugh is checked by a philosophic sigh.
     It is not, to be sure, the custom in civilized countries for men to go into mourning for their own loss; they only put on the suit of sorrow and solemnity when royalty, consanguinity, or friendship that leaves a legacy, expires ; but if it were the fashion for honest people in this world, to do by themselves as they do by others, what thousands who are now flashing in coats of many colours would suddenly appear before us clad in deep mourning! How would the delicacy of peach-blossom and flush of crimson subside into dreary sable, satins and velvets change to sad crape and the harlequinade of life become as a funeral procession. A nigrification almost universal would ensure, like swarms of fire-flies darkening into black beetles.
    Admit but the principle of adopting the same ceremonies in our own case which we observe towards our next of kin, and where is the conscientious man who might not be called upon to put on black as a slight tribute of respect to his departed self! Yea, hundreds who now dazzle the eye of the wondering multitude by the gaudiness of their equipages would be compelled to change their green and crimson liveries for a crow-colour; and we should see the footman, shorn of his finery, swinging behind the carriage in deep mourning for his deceased master grinning inside.
    Not a day passes (who will deny this?) that any man of common experience may not converse with a dozen defunct people. In a great city like London it is impossible to stir out on a fine day when the town is full, without seeing numbers of departed persons of one's acquaintance sauntering up and down in the sunshine;—without stopping here and there at the corners of streets to chat with the lamented dead, or nodding carelessly to them on the other side of the way. The people who have gone to their long homes years ago are very much abroad in this gay metropolis. We dined the other day in a party of fourteen merry-makers, well acquainted with each other; but to our certain knowledge nine of them were no more, and had been so for various periods of time, dating from the different circumstances of their career.
    It is very easy to object that all these deceased persons appear to be as much as ever in existence ; and, indeed, furnish evidence of their being actually alive by dining, walking, laughing, cheating, and the like. In all these respects, and forty others, they are living to the full as much as though they had never departed this life at all. Nevertheless they are all dead, and will so continue, until vitality is discovered in door-nails.
    The phrase which has long been current wherever the English language is spoken,  "dead and buried," was not circulated without a necessity for it. " Poor Bob is dead and buried," is an assertion wonderfully differing from " Poor Bob is dead." There is a warranty conveyed in the additional words which is much wanting in numbers of instances, and without it the fact may be moonshine. The burial is a clincher. The popular existence of the phrase is a proof that the demise is not usually held to be a settled thing until it is associated with interment.
    This very day were we discussing the three per cents with a city man, when on a sudden, memory turned back into old days, to trace the form and lineaments of an early chum. He was once the merriest little winged bird-like soul that ever sang songs half way between earth and heaven. Such assuredly was Little Piper. It was necessary to get up into the sky before you could catch him, but when caught he was your owe. So was all he had. He never knew the meaning of the word grasping, except when he had hold of a friend's hand, or jumped into a river (as he once did) to drag out a drowning lad three times his own weight and size.
     When he became a man, he was the boy as before. He called nothing his own but his faults, and never forgot anybody but himself, a person whom Little Piper rarely bestowed a thought upon. As he had emptied his pockets at school in making presents, and giving sixpences (in spite of lectures against such immoral practices) to begging mothers with hungry children crying and clinging about them ; so now on a larger scale he pursued the same plan, and was seldom without a happy face, save when he witnessed misery he could not relieve. Lucky was it for him that he could not give away the eyes out of his head ; for as loan or gift they would certainly have gone to some blind wanderer, and he would have contented himself with a pair of spectacles.
     And was it Little Piper with whom we this morning discoursed concerning the three per cents ? Let no discreet heart think it. This was Thomas Piper, Esq., of Upper-breeches-pocket-buildings, City. The Piper beloved of us, remembered, venerated, mourned—though not per coat and hat-band—died in 1830 on the Stock-exchange. He went there innocently enough one morning, and was never seen alive afterwards. And here is another Piper calling himself the same!
     As well pretend that the rising rocket and the descending stick are the same ; or that the Dick Withers of last year is the Dick Withers of this year.
     Last year's Dick was the most social, generous, and enjoying of bachelors ; surrounded by troops of gay friends, and as delighted to give them welcome as they were to seek it. He looked care in the face and laughed. When a pack of scowling, prowling, rascally thoughts wandered into his mind and would have settled there, he packed theta all off, like an ill-conditioned troop of gipsy plunderers from his pleasant fields and hedges. Nothing that was not honest and good-tempered had its abode with him. He was the first to enter into a frolic, and the last to get tired of it. He found out the right end of life—he lived and was jolly. A joke in those days never came amiss to him ; but a few months ago he tried his hand at a practical one, and married. Alas! he died on his wedding day.
     There is, however, a Dick Withers lurking somewhere or other in the holes and corners of domesticity, with a soul too narrow to be tenanted by more than a single sentiment—with a sterile heart that has but food for one passion at a time. He could only persuade himself that he was in love, by utterly abjuring friendship. He at once substituted uxoriousness for universal philanthropy, and cared in fact for the one human being merely because she had become part of himself.
     All his friends he dropped quietly ; as well the sharers of his secret thoughts, as the partners in his social enjoyments. All his doors he securely bolted ; and hospitality peeped through the keyhole to see who was coming, and to cry "not at home" to the visiter. No spree, no cigar, no whist; he forgot or abandoned all his old ideas of dances, concerts, and theatres ; he changed his side in politics, or had no politics at all ; and turning love's temple into a mausoleum, deliberately buried himself alive.
     Sheer insanity might attempt to discover some lurking resemblance between the two Dicks, and believe them to be one ; but reason rejects the proposition with scorn. True, the first Dick Withers did take a wife—(he was always so full of his fun) he just lived to wear his wedding -suit ; but his name should have appeared on the same day, and in the same paper, among the Deaths and the Marriages
     That all the signs and evidences of life capable of meeting together in one human specimen of vitality, afford no proof that death has not been there before them, is perfectly well known to every one who happens to be acquainted with our friend Rattleby. That his eyes are the fiercest in their frolicsome and extravagant glee of any in company, and his laugh always the loudest, however noisy and numerous the party, is an everywhere admitted fact ; but is all that wonderful and overwhelming display of life any evidence that Rattleby is still living? Are those boisterous spirits, that constant and rapid flow of humour, by which he makes all around him "certain they shall die of laughter," ten times in the hour, a testimony that Rattleby himself is not yet dead ? Is the elasticity of the lungs an argument against the dead-weight of the heart, and are spasms health ? If the real Rattleby be not deceased, death is a poetic fable. He still may go on to shout, caper, and toss of bumpers; but live as fast as he may he can never be alive again. As Dick Withers must be said to have finally quitted this life when he entered the state of matrimony, so may another man be as fatally cut off by being left out of a wedding. This was the lot of the royster, now in view. Poor Rattleby, who appears to have such quantities of existence to spare, died — beyond mistake, poor fellow — on the day Kate Fisher was married.
     His fate, varied by circumstances, is the fate of thousands surrounding him. When we say that they are not themselves, their story is but half told ; they are not so much as the semblance of themselves. It is impossible to regard them even as their own ghosts, so opposite in character, habit, and disposition, was the original now in the tomb to the living substance bearing the name of the deceased.
     Hear this lecturer upon humanity, whose charity and tenderness of heart is an affair of precept only, a subject to descant upon for personal objects. He died soon after he had taken his seat in Parliament, where he is still to be seen "as large as life."
     Look at this hoary gambler ; you cannot call his spasmodic mode of living an existence ; the truth is, that he was brought down from an honourable station years ago, by the misconduct of a beloved son, and perished in his prime.
     Here is a mother, childless now, but not seeming in outward show otherwise than living. She makes rational replies whenever she is addressed, smiles calmly when kindness shown to her appears to ask a smile, and bends her brow over a book of which she is not reading a single word. Hers is not a life. She died when the last of her children, a fair daughter in her sweet and early youth, was laid within the family grave.
     Go to the next public assembly, no matter for what object it may be called together ; or, what will serve the purpose as well, look from your window upon the passers-by. The unfortunate deceased are as two to one, and if they were to take it into their heads (skulls rather) to revolt, might at one fell swoop drive the living minority into their graves.
     Here comes an author, with an intense consciousness of his own existence-assured, with an emphasis beyond the force of myriads of affidavits, not only that he is living now, but that posterity, until time itself shall be no more, will be a witness of his glorious longevity. The delusion, if ludicrous, is sad too; the immortal has been dead ever since the night on which his tragedy was damned.
     Yet the prima donna who sweeps past him, shooting onward like a star, and seeming to breathe empyreal air, is surely living in every atom of the bright dust whereof she is formed. So indeed it would appear, for to the eye she is life all over, the personification of whatever can be comprehended in the idea of existence. But what a bad judge of visible facts the eye is, and how necessary is it sometimes to see with the heart. Viewed through that medium, sympathy proclaims her to have been some time deceased. When her darling sister, cleverer, younger, and handsomer than herself came out with such brilliant success at the other house, the vital spark fled. All talk of life after that, had about as much meaning in it as the song she excels in. She still gives, it must be admitted, the most startling tokens of an active and indestructible animation ; but these are only the mock-heroic contortions of the eel, after it has been neatly skinned, and cut carefully into inches.
     There is another popular phrase which clearly implies that death is not at all incompatible with a protracted stay within the precincts of existence. Poor So-and-so, say the commentators on mortality, "is dead and gone," intimating that to die is not necessarily to go, and that the defunct are not always the departed—"dead and gone" describes the double event, whenever that takes place—the exception and not the rule. The currency of the phrase strengthens our argument that dying and going are not synonymous terms, and that we may long continue to have crowds of the deceased for our intimate acquaintances.
     It is interesting to remark how varied are the periods of demise among the classes referred to, and how opposite are the causes which have rendered the obituary of the living so extensive. One who professes to be sixty-five, and vows that he has lived all those years, died at the age of forty, in consequence of his success in a duel with a near relative. Another, who conceives himself to have attained to middle age was in reality cut of in the very flower of his youth, by a shilling delicately introduced in his father's will. A third, a maiden, antiquated and thinner than all her tribe, by virtue of taking nothing but tea and cribbage, breathed her last—in spite of her hushed sigh, or her small sarcasm, that may seem to say she still survives--a long time ago, on the day when the gallant adventurer, who had twice danced with her after she was six-and-twenty, sailed for India without making the fondly expected offer.
     For a pair of positive existences, as far as first appearances go, we need look, no further than to this old sweeper at the crossing, and the occupant of the carriage rolling over it. Whosoever should conceive them to be actually living would decide wholly in the dark, and pronounce upon a case without a fact to judge it by. Sudden death overtook the unhappy cross-sweeper at the age of thirty, when he lost every sixpence of his large fortune; and the loller in the carriage expired in as sudden a manner at a later age, when he came quite unexpectedly into a fine estate. One lost a tin mine, and the other found a canal; both perished prematurely.
     Prosperity and adversity, satiated appetite, defeated ambition, brilliant success, wounded honour, blighted affection, filial ingratitude—the hundred incidents, dark or bright, which make up in their confused and yet consistent combination, the history of every human life—each of them, occurring at a critical moment, may bring the real finis long befog the story appears to have arrived at its conclusion. The cold, formal, appointed ending, is simply an affair for the apothecary and the gravedigger.
     The sentiment which first suggested the wearing of mourning was beautiful and holy ; but custom strips it of this sanctity ; its poetry has become a common-place ; and in the adoption of the ceremony the  heart silently heaving with sorrow and honour for the dead, has no concern. Still, if the fashion is to be continued, it may at least be turned to a higher use, and be made to serve sincerer ends. The suit of mourning is in few cases put on soon enough ! If we would invest the custom with grace and dignity, elevating it with moral sentiment, we should sometimes wear the black dress while the mourned is yet amongst us. Letters to old friends must then be written, often perhaps on black-bordered paper, indicating out regret for their loss ; and the crape upon the hat we touch to a former companion, as we pass him by, might be worn, poor moral skeleton! for himself.
     It is painful, after an absence of a few years to return to a family circle in which we had stored up a thousand friendly and affectionate memories—where we expected to find the bright deep wellspring of sympathy, bright, deep, and clear as of old—and see nothing there but dry sand; Time's glass pouring out its contents over and over again, only to increase the heap and make a desert of the garden, every hour adding a little handful to the disappointing, the desolate, the hideous waste.
     What a mockery of the heart, as we stand in the midst and look mournfully around, to attempt to persuade ourselves that we are amongst the living—merely because they all regularly breathe and wear no shroud! Count the faces there; in number, but in number only, they are the same; look into them for the old recognition, and the death's head is grinning. We feel that we have just shaken hands with the late Mr. Jones, who has forgotten to get himself buried. The set of friendship—in this case the ceremonial,—has sent a chill to the soul. The momentary contact with that cold nature was freezing; at the bare touch of his hand, we feel horrid rheumatism running up the right arm.
     It is the same as we proceed round the circle. The friends and companions of our youth are no more. The eldest son perished of a scarlet coat on obtaining a cornetcy, and the eldest daughter died a sadder death when she joined the saints. The remainder became defunct in succession, each in his own favourite way. When we take our leave, it is bidding adieu to the dead. The ordinary courtesies there would be anomalous and absurd to the last degree; for they must come in the form of inquiries concerning the departed — "How is your late lamented father?"  or, "I hope your deceased sisters will go to the opera on Tuesday."

Laman Blanchard, New Monthly Magazine and Humorist, 1844

Professor Elliott's Family


Nicholls' Patent Automatic Shut-Up Seats

Nothing particularly funny about this from the Era 1894, but I love the art-work, so here it is (click to zoom) ...

The Pigs of Celebrities

In 1899 the Strand magazine, never one to miss a trick, came up with the idea of asking famous Victorians to draw a pig blindfolded, in order to reveal the inner works of their souls — a sort of comic porcine graphology, if you will. The article was entitled 'The Pigs of Celebrities'.

Here is a selection of results, with the accompanying text, from some of the game souls who participated:
"Turning to the "pig literary," he must be wanting in imagination indeed who fails to trace in Dr. Conan Doyle's spirited little sketch the resemblance to the immortal and lamented Sherlock Holmes. That pig is evidently 'on the scent' of some baffling mystery. Note the quick and penetrating snout, the alert ears, thrown back in the act of listening, the nervous, sensitive tail, and the expectant, eager, attitude. The spirit of the great detective breathes in every line and animates the whole."

"To get a blindfold pig from a celebrated artist is rare indeed, and I doubt whether an R.A. has ever been known to draw one. We may feel the more grateful, then to that famous veteran, Sir John Tenniel, for his unexampled goodness in giving us a specimen from his own unrivaleld pencil. It is the work of an artist, indeed, and even Sir John himself seems rather proud of it, for he writes "I have much pleasure in sending you my picture of a 'Piggee' drawn in pencil (blindfold) and duly signed. The result, as I need hardly say, fill me with wonder and admiration. It is simply an amazing fluke."

"Referring to his pig, Mr. Maxim writes: 'I have just a suspicion that the pigs that are so well drawn in your album are by people who had their eyes partly open. The trouble with my pig is that my eyes were too tightly closed." But nobody will find fault with Mr. Maxim's animal on that score or on any other. It bears the imprint of his matchless genius, and is certainly suggestive of the action of his incomparable gun."

Mr. Maxim was, of course, the inventor of the maxim gun (or machine-gun, to you and me). One can only hope that he wasn't casting doubt on the honesty of Sir John Tenniel and his 'fluke' (I remain agnostic ... artists out there ... could you draw that pig blindfold?).

The author of this article is one 'Gertude Bacon'. Whatever her true name, I feel that she earned her fee.

Thursday 16 December 2010

Pies and Puddings

More from the delightful Cassells Household Guide, c. 1880 ... in interesting range of Christmas pies and puddings (the original appears in various sections, which I have run together below)  ...


We now propose to give recipes and directions for the making and preparing of some of the dishes which usually form the staple of an English dinner at Christmas time.
    Roast Beef—For roasting, the sirloin of beef is considered the prime joint. Before it is put upon the spit, the meat must be washed, then dried with a clean cloth ; cover the fat with a piece of white paper fastened on with string. Make up a good strong fire, with plenty of coals put on at the back. When the joint is first put down, it should be about ten inches from the fire, and then gradually drawn nearer. Baste it continually all the time it is roasting, at first with a little butter or fresh dripping, afterwards its own fat will be sufficient. About ten minutes before it is to be taken up, sprinkle over it a little salt, dredge it with flour, and baste it until it is nicely frothed. The time it will take in roasting depends upon the thickness of the piece ; a piece of sirloin weighing about fifteen pounds should be roasted for three hours and a half, while a thinner piece, though of the same weight, may be done in three hours. It must also be remembered that it takes longer to roast when newly killed than when it has been kept, and longer in cold weather than in warm.
    Roast Turkey.—For preparing a turkey for cooking, be careful to remove all the plugs, and singe off the hairs. Put into the breast a stuffing made of sausage-meat, with the addition of bread-crumbs mixed together with the yolks of two eggs beaten up ; rub the whole bird with flour and set it down to roast. It should be continually basted with butter, and when nearly done, which may be known by seeing the steam drawing towards the fire, it must be dredged with flour, and again basted. Serve in a dish with gravy, garnished with sausage or forcemeat balls. Bread sauce, which is served in a sauce tureen, is eaten with it.
    Plum Pudding without Eggs.—Take a table-spoonful of flour, a quarter of a pound of suet finely minced, half a pound of grated bread, about a couple of ounces of brown sugar, and half a pound of currants cleaned and dried ; a glass of brandy may, if you choose, be added. Mix the ingredients with sufficient milk to make them into a stiff batter, and boil in a cloth for four hours. With the addition of half a pound of stoned raisins and a little candied peel, the same pudding will be very niced baked.
Plum Pudding.—Take one pound of currants carefully cleaned and dried, one pound of raisins stoned and chopped, one pound of flour, one pound of beef suet finely minced, six eggs well beaten up, one ounce of candied orange-peel, half an ounce of candied lemon-peel chopped small, half a pound of brown sugar, and a teacupful of cream, the grated peel of one lemon, and half a large nutmeg grated; one glass of brandy may also be added. Mix the solid ingredients well together in the flour, adding the liquids afterwards. Tie the pudding in a cloth or mould, put it into a copper of boiling water, and keep it boiling for seven hours. When it is taken out, strew grated loaf sugar over the top, and serve. If a mould is used, it should be as deep and narrow as possible.
    Another Recipe.—Half a pound of currants, half a pound of raisins stoned, three table-spoonfuls of flour, three tablespoonfuls of bread grated fine, six ounces of beef suet minced, eight eggs beaten up, five ounces of brown sugar, a small grated nutmeg, a pinch of salt, three cloves pounded, and half a teaspoonful of ground allspice; a glass of brandy may be added, if it be liked ; mix all the ingredients carefully together, and boil for three or four hours


CHRISTMAS FARE (continued from p. 304).

    A Plum Pudding (economical).—Take one pound of raisins opened and stoned, six eggs, a claret-glass of rum or brandy, a quarter of a pound of minced beef suet, a pound of flour, half a pound of sugar, a teaspoonful of salt, the peel of a lemon shred fine or chopped, and a quarter of a pound of bread-crumbs. Half a pound of well-washed currants will make your pudding still better. Stir in with these as much new milk as will bring the paste to the proper consistency. Then lay a pudding-cloth in a basin, dust the inside well with flour, pour the pudding into it, tie it up with string, not too tight, leaving a little room for it to swell ; throw it into a large boiler, or small copper full of boiling water, let it boil galloping not less than four hours, though five are better. Do not turn it out of the napkin on to the dish until immediately before it is wanted, in order that it may go to table light. If sauce be required, make some melted butter, and stir into it a table-spoonful of sugar and a glass of brandy, if you like the flavour. This quantity made into two puddings, will cook more speedily and thoroughly.
    A smaller Plum Pudding (reasonable).—Mix together three eggs beaten well, one teaspoonful of salt, half a pint of new milk, a quarter of a pound of chopped beef suet half a pound of raisins stoned and chopped, two ounces of well-washed currants, two ounces of powdered sugar, half a nutmeg, grated, and ten cloves, an ounce and a half of candied citron-peel ; one wine-glass of brandy is an optional addition. The quantity of flour and bread-crumbs added will depend upon the richness required in the pudding.
    Family Plum-Pudding (very palatable)—from "Wholesome Fare."—Beat up four eggs well, add to them, first, half a pint of new milk and a teaspoonful of salt ; then mix in half a pound of beef suet chopped very fine, a pound of raisins stoned and chopped, a quarter of a pound of currants, a quarter of a pound of brown sugar, one nutmeg grated, one ounce of candied peel cut into thin small strips. Stir all well together, and add another half-pint of new milk ; then beat in sufficient flour to make it a stiff paste. You may add a glass of brandy and a glass of white wine. Tie it up and boil it—if in a mould or basin, five hours, if in a cloth, four ; but the pudding is better, as well as more shapely, when boiled in h mould or basin. It may be enriched by blanched almonds, and a larger proportion of currants and candied peel ; but too rich a pudding will hardly hold together, and is apt to fall to pieces when turned out on the dish. For sauce, make some good melted butter ; put in some loaf sugar, and, for those who are fond of it, a glass each of white wine and brandy, and a dessert-spoonful of noyeau or any other favourite liqueur at hand. Let it just boil up after mixing, then pour half of it over the pudding, and serve the rest in a hot sauce-boat. This pudding may be made with the grated crumb of household bread, as well as with flour. It is better so, if to be eaten cold. Plum-puddings may be made a fortnight, or even longer, before they are wanted, and, indeed, will be all the mellower for the keeping, if they be hung up in a dry place where they will not mould.
    Plum Pudding with Apples.—Stone and chop fine two ounces of raisins, take four ounces of apples minced very small, four ounces of currants cleaned and dried, four ounces of grated bread, two of loaf sugar pounded, half a nutmeg grated, and a small quantity of candied orange and lemon-peel. Mix all these well together with four eggs, beaten up, and an ounce and a half of melted butter just warm.
    Sauce for Plum Pudding.—Warm about two or three table-spoonfuls of sweet cream, and mix it with the yolks of two eggs, add a table-spoonful of sugar, season with grated nutmeg and stir over the fire till it is quite hot, but take care not to let it boil. For those who like it, wine, brandy, cr rum, about three table-spoonfuls of either may be added.
    Mince-meat for Mince Pies.—Mix well together half a pound of raisins, stoned and chopped small; half a pound of currants washed ; half a pound of chopped beef suet ; ten or a dozen apples peeled, cored, and chopped ; a quarter of a pound of lean beef without skin or fat, boiled and chopped ; one nutmeg grated, and a teaspoonful of allspice ; a quarter or half a pound of candied peel, according to the richness desired, chopped. Put them into an earthen jar with a close-fitting cover, and pour a pint of brandy over them. Stir up these ingredients from time to time. Mince-meat is best made a fortnight or three weeks before it is wanted.
    Mince Pies.—Of suet, chopped very fine and sifted, two pounds ; currants, two pounds ; raisins, one pound ; apples, two pounds ; bread, half a pound ; moist sugar, one and a quarter pounds ; red and white wine, mixed, three-quarters of a pint ; a glass of brandy (these two last according to taste) : the peel of two small lemons, and the juice of one ; four ounces of candied orange-peel, cut. Mix, with cinnamon, mace, nutmeg, and salt to the taste. if preferred, omit the bread, substituting two biscuits.
    Old-fashioned Mince-meat.—Take a pound of beef, a pound of apples, two pounds of suet, two pounds of sugar, two pounds of currants, one pound of candied lemon or orange-peel, a quarter of a pound of citron, and an ounce of fine spices ; mix all these together, with half an ounce of salt, and the rinds of six lemons shred fine. See that the ingredients are thoroughly incoporated, and add brandy or wine according to your taste.


     Plum Porridge or Broth was the forerunner of plum pudding. It was once in great repute as a favourite Christmas dish. It must have been a complicated mixture of savoury and sweet, and was thus made in the time of Queen Anne :—Take a leg of beef and a piece of the neck, and put it into three or four gallons of water, boil it four hours, and then put in two pounds of currants, three pounds of raisins of the sun, and three pounds of stewed prunes, and let them boil one hour ; then force through a cullender two pounds of stewed prunes, grate a twopenny white loaf, mix it with some of the broth, and add to it the pulp of the prunes, one ounce of cinnamon, half • an ounce of nutmeg grated, and a quarter of an ounce of beaten cloves and mace. Put all these into the broth ; let it boil a quarter of an hour, stirring it lest it burn ; then put in a quart of claret and half a pint of sack, and sweeten it to your taste. Put in a little salt ; then have some white bread cut in dice, which put into the basin or tureen. Lay in the middle a piece of the meat, and put in the broth.
     Two centuries ago every well-to-do family made a Christmas pie or shred pie, "a most learned mixture of neats' tongues, chickens, eggs, sugar, raisins, &c." They ought to be confined to the season of Christmas. No modern receipts are similar, and the less meat they contain the better. The following is a well-tried and much approved one, and has been handed down in the same family for generations :—"A pound of beef suet, chopped fine ; a pound of raisins, stoned ; a pound of currants, cleaned dry ; a pound of apples, chopped fine ; two or three eggs ; allspice, beat very fine, and sugar to your taste ; a little salt, and as much brandy and wine as you like." A small piece of citron in each pie is an improvement.
     Raised Pies for Christmas.—To make the paste for raised pies, put two ounces of butter into a pint of boiling water, which mix while hot with three pounds of flour into a strong but smooth paste ; put it into a cloth to soak until nearly cold ; then knead it, and raise it to the required shape. To raise a pie well requires considerable practice. It is best done by putting one hand in the middle of the crust, and keeping the other close on the outside, till you have worked it into the round or oval shape required. The lid is then to be rolled out. For these pies, the poultry and game should be boned and highly seasoned with salt, pepper, and very little pounded mace ; the bird should then be put into a dish or raised crust, and the space round it filled with savoury forcemeat ; , butter should then be spread on the top, the cover put on, and the pie baked till done, when it should be filled up with richly-flavoured gravy and jelly. With the addition of green truffles, and the breast being lined with bacon, the above will closely resemble a Perigord pie. Raised pies should be served on a fine napkin. The top of these pies are mostly used as covers, to be taken off when brought to table, and put on when removed, so that they should be made with a knob or ornament to serve as a handle.
     For a raised pork pie, make a raised crust from three to four inches high ; pare off the rind and remove the bone from a loin of pork, cut it into chops, flatten them, and season them with chopped or powdered sage, black pepper, and salt, and pack them closely into the crust ; then put on the top, and pinch the edge ; brush the crust with yolk of egg, and bake two hours in a slow oven. When done, remove the lid, pour off the fat, and add some seasoned gravy ; or the pork may be put into a dish, covered with crust, and baked ; or it may be cut into dice and seasoned. When a hog is killed, this pie may be made of the trimmings ; but there should be no bone, as the meat must be packed closely, fat and lean alternately.
     For a raised ham pie, soak a small ham, boil it an hour, cut off the knuckle, then remove the rind, trim the bacon, and put it into a stewpan, with veal gravy and white wine to cover it. Simmer it till nearly done, when take it out and let it cool. Then make a raised crust, spread on it some veal forcemeat, put in the ham, and fill round it with forcemeat, cover with crust, and bake slowly about an hour. When done, remove the cover, glaze the top of the ham, and pour round it the stock the ham was stewed in, having strained and thickened it, and seasoned it with cayenne pepper.
     For a raised pheasant or partridge pie, cut up two pheasants or partridges, and fry them lightly in butter with a few spoonfuls of mushrooms, truffles, parsley, and very little shalot, seasoned with pepper and salt. Then line a raised crust with veal forcemeat, to which have been added finely-chopped truffles ; put in the joints of the pheasants or partridges when cold—first the legs and rumps, next four truffles cut asunder, then the fillets and breasts, and more truffles—add the seasoning in which the birds were fried, and cover with slices of fat bacon and paste. Bake the pie in a quick oven an hour and a half, and when done remove the cover and skim off the fat, and pour in brown sauce, with finely-minced truffles. and serve without the cover.
     For hare pie, cold, cut up the hare, season it with pepper and salt ; prepare a forcemeat with the parboiled liver of the hare, shred bacon, minced sweet herbs, onion, pepper, and mace. Make it into balls, which lay with sliced hard-boiled egg-yolks between the joints of the hare. Bake it in a dish or raised crust, and when cold fill up with savoury jelly.
     For pigeon pie, stuff four or six pigeons with a forcemeat of parsley, bread-crumbs, and butter, seasoned with pepper and salt. Lay them in the dish breast downwards, upon a rump-steak, adding the yolks of four or six hard-boiled eggs and a gill of water. Lay on the top another steak, cover with puff-paste, brush it over with the yolk of egg, and put in the centre of it three neatly-trimmed feet of the pigeons, or one foot on each side. Bake about an hour. Or the stuffing may be omitted, and the pigeons cut in halves.
     Mince-meat.—Take four pounds of raisins, stoned, and four pounds of currants, washed clean, four pounds of apples, six pounds of suet, and half a fresh ox-tongue, boiled, half a pound of candied orange-peel, ditto candied lemon, and a quarter of a pound of citron, all chopped ; the juice of three oranges and three lemons, with the peel of two grated; half a pound of moist sugar, two glasses of brandy, two of sherry, one nutmeg grated, a spoonful of pounded cinnamon, and half an ounce of salt. Mix all these well together, put the whole into jars, and keep it tied over with bladder. A little of this mixture baked in tart-pans with puff-paste forms mince-pies. Or peel, core, and chop finely a pound of sound russet apples, wash and pick a pound and a half of currants, stone half a pound of raisins, and let both these be chopped small. Then take away the skin and gristle from a pound of roast beef, and carefully pick a pound of beef suet ; chop these well together. Cut into small pieces three-quarters of a pound of mixed candied orange, citron, and lemon peel; let all these be well stirred together in a large pan. Beat or grind into powder a nutmeg, half an ounce of ginger, and a quarter of an ounce of cloves, the same of allspice and coriander seeds ; add half an ounce of salt, and put these into the pan, mixing them thoroughly. Grate the rinds of three lemons, and squeeze the juice over half a pound of fine Lisbon sugar, mixed with the lemon peel; pour over this two gills of brandy and half a pint of sherry. Let these ingredients be well stirred, then cover the pan with a slate ; and when about to use the mince-meat take it from the bottom of the pan. Or, to make mince-pies without meat, carefully prepare as before directed a pound and a half of fresh beef suet, and chop it as small as possible; stone and chop a pound and a half of Smyrna raisins; well wash and dry on a coarse cloth two pounds of currants ; peel, core, and cut small three pounds of russet apples ; add a quarter of an ounce of mixed cinnamon and mace in powder, four cloves powdered, a pound and a half of powdered sugar, a teaspoonful of salt, the juice of a lemon and its peel finely grated, and a tablespoonful of mixed candied fruit cut very small. Let all the above be well mixed together, and remain in the pan a few days. When you are about to make mince-pies, throw a gill of brandy and the same of port wine into the pan, and stir together the mince. Line the required number of patty-pans with properly-made paste ; fill from the bottom of the pan, cover, and bake quickly.
     Lemon Mince-meat is made as follows :—Peel thinly two lemons, and boil the peels till tender enough to be beaten into a paste; to which add four sharp apples, peeled and chopped, half a pound of chopped suet, one pound of currants, and half a pound of good moist sugar. Mix the whole well together, adding the juice of two lemons, and two ounces of candied orange, lemon, and citron peel, cut small

Wednesday 15 December 2010


A strange and probably not overly useful diagram from an article 'A Woman's Chance of Marriage' in the Strand magazine, 1898, by John Holt Schooling. The Victorians did love their statistics:

Women Who Fascinate

Advertisers have always tried to trade on women's body image ... here's an advert from the Strand, 1903 ... click to, erm, expand:

The Victorians and Edwardians on the Move

A nice little title from Shire just popped through my door [hint to publishers: will consider any Victorian freebies!] entitled The Victorians and Edwardians on the Move, by John Hannavy. It's a brief summary of all the different modes of transport available in the late nineteenth/early twentieth century, and covers everything from railways, to walking,
to steam engines, to balloons, together with copious images, like the one I've added right (showing how much luggage you could fit on an omnibus, if truly pressed!). Some of the images, taken from colourised postcards, are a little - forgive the word - pedestrian; but many are smashing, ranging from a 1904 wedding party in Auchmithie (east coast of Scotland) to the torpedo-like first military dirigible, seen at Crystal Palace in 1907. The price at £9.99 is quite high for a small pocket book (127pages) but some of the numerous photographs are very interesting and you'll come away with a good basic grounding in Victorian transport ... a neat little Christmas present, perhaps?

How to Decorate Your Home for Christmas, c1880


THE materials to be used include all kinds of evergreens, everlasting flowers, and coloured and gilt papers. It is a strange thing that though mistletoe is used in the decoration of houses, not a sprig of it is put into a church. But in house decoration no Christmas would be thought complete if there did not hang in hall or dining-room a bunch of its curiously-forked branches, with their terminal pairs of nerveless pale-green leaves, and white crystalline berries.
     Holly is of course the special tree of the season. Its leaves bent into various curves, its thorny points, and its bunches of coral-red berries make it the prince of evergreens. Let it be conspicuous throughout the decorations. It is a good plan to strip off the berries, and use them strung in bunches, as the berries get hidden when the sprigs are worked into wreaths and devices ; and the berries, bent into little bunches, dotted about the festoons here and there, look very effective.
     Ivy must be introduced with care. Small single leaves come in with good effect in small devices, or to relieve a background of sombre yew or arbour vitae. The young shoots of the common ivy are best, or of the kind which grows up trees and old walls, which are very dark and glossy, with a network of light-coloured veins.
     Laurel is a very useful green in sprays, and the single leaves may be applied with excellent effect in wreaths, or overlapping one another in borders. The variegated ancuba makes a pleasing variety in the colour.
     Yews and Arbor Vitae are useful, especially the small sprays of them, for covering the framework of devices.
    Myrtle and Box also are pretty in narrow borderings, into which coloured everlasting flowers may be introduced. The black bunches of ivy berries may sometimes be used with advantage, to give points of contrast in the decorations. Of course if chrysanthemums, Christmas roses, primulas, and camellias can be obtained, the general effect is heightened, and the decoration becomes more elaborate and more elegant. The best wreaths for decorating the banisters of a house, or any pedestals, pillars, or columns, are those made in a rope of evergreen sprigs. There are several ways in which such wreaths are made. One way is as follows :—Get a rope or stout cord, of proper length, and a quantity of twine and a handful of evergreen twigs. Begin at one end of the rope, which should be attached firmly to something. Dispose a bunch of the twigs round the rope, and tie them on with the twine; then dispose another bunch so that the leaves may conceal the stalks of those already on, and give the twine a turn round them, fastening it with a running knot, and so on until the rope is rushed. This must be done at the fastening of each bunch of twigs. Another way very frequently adopted is, in place of a rope, to use only a piece of stout twine to run rough the wreath, so as to prevent its falling to pieces, and instead of twine to tie the twigs on, to use fine wire, which must be firmly twisted round the twigs.
     In all kinds of wreaths the thickness of the wreath must be carefully regulated at the outset, and evenly maintained throughout, and care should be taken that all the foliage turned in one direction, especially where two persons are working at the same rope. The wreaths may be made of one kind of evergreen only, or of any number of kinds mixed : the latter has the better effect. There should be an equal mixture of the fine kinds, as yew, box, &c., to keep the wreath light and sprayey. Whether the berries are left on the holly twigs, or threaded and attached at intervals, is, of course, according to the taste of the decorator. If threaded, they are best fastened among the oily leaves in bunches about as large as the natural clusters, so as to imitate their natural effect.
     In fastening the wreath to the pillars, take care not to put it on upside down, as foliage must never be placed in a direction contrary to that of its growth. When small chaplets or wreaths are constructed, each should be made by one person, as the effect is frequently spoilt by the two ends not matching, or it is otherwise wanting in uniformity. When the wreaths are finished, and before they are hung up, they should be kept in some cool place, or else they shrivel up; if necessary, a little water may be sprinkled over them.
     If holly berries are scarce, a good substitute may be found in rose hips, which may have a small piece of wire passed through them as a stalk, and several twisted together. The fallen holly berries, strung on wire, made into rings, and slipped over the leaves, are very effective; also split peas, glued on here and there in the shape of small rosettes, look like golden flowers, and they may be made to resemble holly berries by pouring over them red sealing-wax melted in spirits of wine.
     Where definite shapes are required, there are several methods of accomplishing the desired effect. Some use a groundwork of tin or perforated zinc.
     If outline forms are employed, to be covered with leaves or flowers, these will be best coloured black. The method of arranging the leaves and flowers will depend in a great measure upon individual taste. If it is required to use masses of berries in such a manner that it would be inconvenient or difficult to fasten them together by any other means, paint the places required to be filled in with a stiff coat of glue, very hot, and drop the berries upon it. When the glue is dry they will be found to adhere.
     Holly strung has a very good effect. It is very quickly done, and looks like a rich cord when finished, and all the banisters in a house may be draped in holly. It is made by threading a packing-needle with the required length of twine, and stringing upon it the largest and most curly-looking holly leaves, taking care to pass the needle through the exact centre of each leaf. Flat borderings, to lie flat along panels of cabinets, doorways, mirrors, and the backs of sideboards, should be made of leaves sewn in strips on brown paper, or yards of buckram, cut in strips and sewn together to the required lengths. Garlands or half-wreaths (Fig. 1) are best made on barrel hoops for their foundation. For making letters there is nothing that bends to the shape of the letters so well as crinoline wires. Single letters are best cut out in brown paper, and the leaves sewn on with a needle and thread.
     Rice decoration is very effective, and looks like carved ivory. The required shape should be cut out in cartridge-paper, and firmly glued down to its intended foundation, and then covered with a coating of thick warm paste, or very strong white gum, into which the rice grains must be dropped, and arranged so as to lie closely and regularly together, and the whole left until it is perfectly stiff and dry. Immortelles, and other coloured dried flowers, may be used in the same manner. The best plan of applying the rice is first to take a small quantity in a paper funnel and scatter it over the design till dry. Pour on more gum, then scatter the rice on again, and repeat the process till the proper thickness and evenness are obtained. When finished, a sharp penknife will remove all superfluous grains. Monograms made in this way, if the shadows are picked out with Indian ink, roughly put on, give a very good effect. Alternate letters of rice and sealing-wax berries look very fanciful and gay.
     Mottoes and monograms in white cotton wool have the effect of snow. They are produced by cutting out the letters in thick white paper, and pasting over them an even piece of clean white cotton wool, which is, when dry, pulled out so as to give it a fluffy or snowy appearance. The letters should afterwards be carefully trimmed with a sharp pair of scissors, and mounted on a ground of coloured paper.

     If there is a lamp in the dining-room supported by chains, holly wreaths twisted round the chains look well; while a chaplet round the base, and a small basket filled with mistletoe, suspended from the centre of the base, look very effective. Borders of evergreens may be placed along the back of the sideboard, and if there be a mirror in it a small chaplet in the centre, and seeming to join the borders, looks very pretty. Pictures and mirrors can be framed with made-up borders of evergreens. Where these are square, borders arranged in the shape of Oxford frames will look very pretty. If the entrance-hall be in panels, narrow borderings of box and ivy look well, laid on all round, and in the centre half-hoops or chaplets, or a monogram. Scrolls, with mottoes, bidding people to be welcome and happy, either laid on bright-coloured calicoes, with holly borderings, or else merely the word "Christmas," done in laurel leaves, and variegated with immortelle flowers. Even in the bedrooms the frames of pictures and mirrors can be edged with wreaths.
     In Fig. 4 will be found a bold and effective device for a large space, as, for example, the end wall of an entrance-hall or landing. The cross-pieces are stout sticks, the size of which must be regulated by the space intended to be filled ; and it will be found advisable to join them in the centre by a cross joint, otherwise they will be very awkward to manage. They can then be wreathed with holly and misletoe, as shown in the figure. The legend surrounding them is made of letters in gilt paper, pasted on to coloured cardboard, and the figure of the robin is cut out in cardboard and painted.
     The monogram in Fig. 2 signifies Christmas, and is very pretty made either of leaves and berries, or moss glued on cardboard, and edged with three different shades of immortelles. The border is made of bosses of different coloured immortelles, and the outside row of star-points with fern fronds. Fig. 1 is a bordering for the cornice of a hall or large room and is made of laurel leaves and  rosettes of coloured paper or immortelles. In Fig. 3 the trefoil is made of holly leaves, and the border of laurel.
     In our decorations we must not forget the dining-room table when our guests gather round it. A very pretty centre-piece is made by covering an inverted basin with moss, into which insert sprigs of holly quite thick until it forms a pyramid of holly. On the top place a figure of Old Father Christmas (which may be bought at any bazaar or sugar-plum shop) and instead of the holly sprig he generally holds in his hand, place a small spray of misletoe. A great many lights are required, where fir and holly are much used, in table decoration, otherwise the effect is heavy and gloomy.
     These hints will make it an easy task to adorn the house for Christmas; but half the pleasure consists is inventing new devices, and giving scope to one's taste and ingenuity, new ideas springing up and developing themselves as the occasion arises, till the worker finds delight in the work, and is thus best rewarded for the toil.
Cassells Household Guide

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Joke Sampler

' "I never see you at the play nowadays" -- "I prefer to stay at home." -- "Ah, I suppose you think there's no plays like home." ' 

" 'See here, waiter, I've found a button in my salad.' - 'That's all right, sir, it's part of the dressing.' "

"A morally-conducted family should have an upright piano."

"What is the proper way of addressing the Admiral of the Fleet?" -- "Your warship."

" 'How did you come out of that scrape with your wife?' 'As usual, I apologised for being right.' " 

"A lady wrote the following letters at the bottom of her flour barrel: O I C U R M T."

"The net to catch a man matrimonially : The brunette."

' "Yes, Roberts fell off a 50ft ladder, wasn't hurt a bit." "I don't believe it!" "Quite true, fell off the bottom rung." '

Lady: 'Captain, how do you navigate across the ocean?'-'By this compass. It always points north.' Lady: 'But what if you want to go south?'

" 'Say, boy, what is the quickest way to the railway-station?' -- 'Run.' "

"Why is a field of grass like someone older than yourself? Because it is pasturage."

"Son: 'What makes the world go round, Papa?' Father:'Usually about four whiskies, my boy.' " 

"A man full of drink is like an omnibus conductor: he always thinks there is room for one more." 

"A forthcoming event : One that succeeds three others."

"Why is a confirmed invalid like an inveterate beer-drinker? Because he is always ale-ing!" 

"Bakers are generous. They never keep all the bread they knead."

"Running expenses:- children."

"There is nothing that so increases a man's desire to work in the garden as his discovery that his wife has misplaced the rake."

"JOHN: 'Elvira, do you love me or is it my money?' ELVIRA: 'John, I love you both.'"

"WIFE: 'You loved me before we were married!' HUSBAND: 'Well, now it's your turn!' "

Sunday 12 December 2010

Train Your Moustache

An 1901 advertisement containing four classic Victorian moustaches:

Underwear, 1901

Practical underwear from 1901 ...

Foot's Bath Cabinet

We all could do with one of these ... note the reading-stand!

Toilet Mask

Here's an article to improve female pulchritude from the Strand, 1901, which, frankly, scares me:

Shop Front

Here's an advert from 1900 showing a very typical Victorian shop-front ...

Saturday 11 December 2010

A Shocking Cure

Were all Victorian electric devices actually intended as sex toys? There is a modern tendency to make this suggestion; but I'm not sure if it's entirely true. However, when one talks of a machine that 'stimulates the functions of the various organs, increases their secretions' ... hmm ...

All Fat People Can be Cured!

A blunt advert from the Strand magazine, 1896. Note the first endorsement: "Gentlemen - I have had some boxes of your Tablets for my wife and she has derived great benefit from them." Ah, that's old-fashioned chivalry, no?

Friday 10 December 2010

Student Loans, 1906

This article, as ever, is full of astonishing parallels with the current debate (although I suppose we must concede that debate is over) and astonishing differences. [nb. Naturally, women do not feature in 1906]. The author decries entrance exams and scholarships ("Superior mental gifts are an advantage, not a merit giving claim to extra privileges") and supports - you guessed it - student loans (albeit split between parent's income and students' future income). Just when you think, however, that the article is a patrician, technocratic view of higher education, you get the amazing final paragraph ... the late Victorians/Edwardians may have been ruthless elitists, but at least they were cultured elitists, and I rather respect them for that.


CONCURRENTLY with the determination to put our national elementary education upon a stable and rational basis has come the resolve not only to deal generously and thoroughly with secondary general and technical education, but also to give ample national assistance to advanced technological training. The difference between "technical " and "technological " training—a difference of definition of the accepted meanings of two words—is now agreed to be that the former refers to such training in applied arts and handicrafts as promotes the practical efficiency of artisans and other workers in the various industries, while the latter supplies the full scientific knowledge and skill required in those who have in their hands the management of the works where these industries are carried on, the guidance of such industrial operations onwards towards improved detail methods, and the investigations needed to invent, test, and develop new industrial processes. The difference is similar to that between the various grades of the clerical staff in a purely trading business and the commercial financiers who must manage such business ; and similar to that between those who do the manipulative routine work in medicine and in law and the full-blown medical and legal professionals. "Technological" simply means "professional" as applied to scientific industries, and the superior social standing of "professionals" in law, medicine, and divinity over those in manufacturing industry is now non-existent, or is fast disappearing.
     With regard to the three kinds of education and training, namely (a) general elementary and secondary, (b) technical, and (c) technological and professional, there are four fundamental facts which are sufficiently obvious to allow of them being taken as universally accepted axioms. The first is that good general education is so desirable as to be fairly called, in our present stage of civilisation, a rational necessity for every child, male and female, in the nation, and that it should be carried on from the elementary to the secondary stage with just as many children as the nation can possibly afford means for. This is an entirely national interest, because the reason for the universal desirability of such general education is simply to make all the children into good citizens, useful and not dangerous, to the community. This being the national interest in it, it is evident that systematic teaching of the duties of citizenship and general morality is the most essential desideratum in such general education.
     The second obvious fact is that advanced technological or professional education must be an addition to technical training ; it is not independent of this latter ; it is, indeed, impossible except when reared as a superstructure upon the basis of technical knowledge. It is certainly true that no man or woman professional can ever reach to the consummate practical technical skill attained by the best of those who spend their lives in purely technical work. But every one who has any intimate knowledge of industry now freely admits that the pure scientist who has never had a technical training is of zero utility in the management and guidance of any industry whatever, however scientific its character. If any industrial interests are foolishly entrusted to his care, they are doomed to rapid ruin. We are here dealing with education or the preparatory processes making men fit for their work in the world ; not with the final results of their life-labours. In this preparatory process, technical training cannot be omitted from the curriculum of the technological student if his scientific knowledge and skill is to be useful to industry.
     Thirdly, it is obvious that those who ought to receive general and technical training are almost as numerous as the nation itself ; while those who can be usefully given technological professional education are a comparatively small number. The proportion of the nation who have ability and can find opportunity to turn such education to useful account has probably increased but little during the last half century, and will probably increase in the future very slowly, if at all.
     The fourth elementary truth which may be accepted as axiomatic is that, for the prosperity and progress of the nation as a whole, both classes of men, the many with good general and technical training and the few with high technological education superadded to these, are equally essential. It is futile to speculate as to the relative importance of the two ; each of them is (under modern industrial conditions) helpless, and therefore of no importance, by itself, and without the co-operation of the other. It follows that it is the duty of the modern civilised State to promote both classes of education.
     The general education costs relatively little even when of the best standard ; but not so little as is usually supposed, because a rational modern education must include the teaching of the natural sciences as well as languages and mathematics, and this involves considerable material equipment. The material equipment required for the technical training is much more costly. Since both are required for the great bulk of the people, it serves no good purpose to inquire closely into the relative costs of general and technical schooling ; but it is important to note that the total cost of the two per scholar taught is much beyond what could possibly be paid for it by the poorest of the parents, in spite of the great economies effected by co-operation of the whole nation in the task of education. It follows as a necessary consequence that the richest classes must pay for the education of the poorest classes. There is some intermediate class which, in the forms of direct payment of school fees and in taxation, just pays the real cost of the education of its children. But it has always been the actual fact that, partly by taxation and partly by individual gifts, the rich have paid the costs of the education of the poor. Of course it is perfectly just that they should do so, and that they should be compelled to do so in so far as they do not voluntarily fulfil this duty, because they have grown rich by help of the labours of the poor. But the inequality of the incidence of the cost in respect of general and technical education is by no means extreme. That is to say, a moderately low-incomed man, say of £300 to £500 income, probably pays in school fees and in education rates and taxes, the full real cost of the training of his children in these two grades.
     But when we come to high technological education the disproportion between real actual cost per scholar and the direct payment made by each scholar receiving it becomes extreme. No individual scholar, whether he be of the very richest or of poor parents, pays more than a mere fraction of the cost of what he receives. Some years ago the present writer estimated the real cost to be about three times the fees paid. The ratio has increased since then, and it is practically certain to increase still further. It may soon reach a ratio of six to eight because of three causes: (1) The rapid increase of costly material equipment deemed necessary, and the higher salaries paid to first-class specialist teachers ; (2) The growing conviction that it is a comparatively small number of scholars of this class that is really needed ; and (3) the already fairly well settled principle that this small number must, in order to secure the desired results, be selected in order of intellectual capacity, which involves making the education available for students who can pay only very moderate fees. A moderate estimate of the cost in salaries, wages, laboratory equipment and materials, and general management, including capital cost and upkeep of buildings, is from £150 to £200 per scholar per year. The excess over the fees paid is supplied by endowments, that is, by gifts, and in a smaller proportion by contributions from national taxation. It is expected that the contribution from taxation will be largely increased.
     The question now is whether it is advisable to make this practically free gift of a high special education to a small selected number of the people, and what are the rights of the people at large in the settlement of this question ?
     One part of this problem is, in the opinion of the writer, easy to consider, although the conclusion is opposite to that at present reached by most people. The institutions now giving this education justify their policy by an appeal to democratic sentiment in throwing their doors open to all corners of all classes on equal terms, and making those terms as low as possible. That is, the scale of fees is made as small as will suffice, along with the endowments, to balance income with expenditure. But the practical effect of the procedure is wholly the reverse of democratic. The scale of fees fixed on this principle is so high that only the fairly well-to-do, say those with incomes over £600 to £1000 (according to the College or University in question), can afford to pay them ; while really rich people are absolved from payments on behalf of their children, which they are both easily able and perfectly willing to make. The poor and moderately poor are excluded, and the abundantly rich are gratuitously endowed. This anomaly is sometimes defended on the one side by saying that the funds come mostly from generous bequests by members of this richest class, and that there is no unfairness in favouring, to some extent, members of this class, the number of such favoured students being always, after all, a small proportion of the whole : and on the other side by quoting the provision of scholarships for the intellectually meritorious among the poor. These appear to be only manufactured excuses for evident and glaring anomalies. It formed no part of the main intention or desire of the munificent and abundantly rich benefactor to endow his equally rich neighbours. Although he may have been persuaded that there was no easy way of avoiding doing this, his main aim has undoubtedly always been to give a share of the advantages of his wealth to the less fortunate of his fellow-countrymen. The system has the incidental disadvantage of fostering the idea among students and their parents that they actually do pay for what they get, and are not the recipients of favours in return for which they owe duties and compensations. The loyalty of the "old student " to his alma mater is founded upon personal affection and respect for his teachers and upon pleasant memories of student comradeships, and seldom, if ever, upon the idea that he has contracted an actual material debt to the institution and to the society which supports it.
     A fairer method of procedure would be to scale the normal fees to equality with the real actual total cost of what is given for them. At such normal fees the education should be open to all comers without entrance examination. If a rich man has a somewhat dull and stupid son or daughter, why should he be precluded, by the imposition of a severe intellectual entrance examination, from the performance of his very natural duty and desire to brighten the prospects, or to lessen the inutility, of his child by a process which will almost certainly do his child good and for which he is able and anxious to pay ?
     The number of rich men who will do this is small, and their sons will not supply all the intellectual material required for the industrial needs of the nation, although they may supply some of it. The bulk of this material, selected by effective tests as the most suited to fulfil the national requirements, will come from parents who cannot pay the whole cost. The portion which they cannot pay must be borne by others, and, since it is a national necessity to have a certain quantity of this material fully trained, the excess of cost, to the extent to which it is not covered by voluntary endowments, must clearly be defrayed out of national taxation. By what mode can this best be done ? The method adopted ought to be effective in securing the object aimed at, which is the best possible skilled guidance and promotion of the industries of the country, and it ought to be just to the taxpayers.
     The writer has no sympathy with the idea that students should receive scholarships as a matter of right on account of intellectual superiority. It may be a duty to the State devolving upon them to go through the training here contemplated, and to do in after life the work it fits them for ; but there are no personal rights involved in the question, except that undoubtedly no such student can have a right to accept such training at the cost of others and afterwards to neglect to use it for the purpose for which it has been given. Personal rights may depend upon, and arise out of, moral merits. They cannot be due to intellectual apart from moral superiority. Superior mental gifts are an advantage, not a merit giving claim to extra privileges. Mental superiority, trained or untrained, helped or unassisted, gives power throughout life to reap the greater share of the profits of industry. If there be any moral claim for special assistance from the State, such claim could surely be urged with greater justice on behalf of those who are less well equipped in brain power. High technological education is claimed as essential only for "Directors" and "Leaders " of industry. These leaders throughout life take as remuneration for their work a disproportionate share of the profits of industry, and take it by right. Their share may not be disproportionate to the material value of their work, but it is disproportionate to the amount of labour and fatigue, mental or physical, involved. Nature gives them from the beginning and throughout life an advantage, and if the State gives them still further special privileges, it ought to be clearly understood that this is done for the advantage of the nation at large, and not for that of the persons upon whom these privileges are bestowed.
     In the first place, then, except for those who pay in fees the full real cost of the education, entrance to the colleges giving high technological training should be restricted to the number estimated to fulfil the national requirements by tests sufficiently severe to effect this restriction. There should be no graded scale of fees, but only the one normal scale covering the whole real cost. There should be no free scholarships. But out of voluntary endowments and contributions derived from national taxation, there should be paid such parts of the normal fees payable ss the parents cannot afford to pay. Such payments of part fees should be made by way of loan, not to the parents, but to the students themselves. The re-payment of the loan should be arranged so as not to press at all upon the recipient during the first years of his industrial career, and so as not to hamper his successful progress at any stage of it. If, for instance, ten per cent. of the excess of his declared income over £300 were legally recoverable from him in repayment of the loan, and if voluntary repayment quicker than this were encouraged by making the amount repayable accumulate at compound interest, the desired object would be fulfilled. He would be hampered by no heavy log hung round his neck, and in most cases the debt would be quickly paid off with little effort. As to the proportion of college fees to be paid by loan from the college funds, this should be fixed in accordance with the parents' income. It will be found that if the parents be called on to pay direct five per cent, of their income, up to the limit of the full normal fee or whole real cost, this will not inflict hardship on any one, and will exact from parents no sacrifice out of proportion to the advantages gained by their son or sons. It would mean an annual payment of £10 from a man of £200 income, and of £150 from one of £3000 income. It would be advantageous not to exact payment of more than this five per cent. of income on account of more than one son or daughter receiving training, although the excess fees paid by loan would, of course, be payable in respect of each scholar.
     The writer's experience is, that freeing the parents wholly of liability for fees has usually the worst possible effect upon the student. And the student's idea that he receives this high and expensive education by virtue of his own personal right makes him a nuisance at college, and not infrequently turns him eventually into a thorough-going ne'er-do-weel after leaving college. The student should feel that he is specially privileged : he should feel to the full his responsibility for making the utmost possible use of the privileges granted him ; and he should feel also throughout his career that he owes a substantial debt to be repaid as quickly as possible for the steady maintenance of the national educational system which has helped him upwards. If these ideas of responsibility to the nation in the important positions these men are trained to, and of debt due to the institutions which have trained them, are cultivated so as to become normal among the men of this class, it will be rapidly discovered that they will, directly and indirectly, contribute to the future development of these institutions far more than the bare repayment of the money loan contracted by them.
     It has often been objected that the remission of fees in proportion to the parents' lack of income is objectionable, first because of the difficulty of getting true statements of income, and secondly because it is apt to create invidious and humiliating distinctions among the students who ought to fraternise as equals. The second objection will not apply to the system of loans here proposed. When a man arranges a loan from his banker, neither he nor his banker informs the whole circle of his acquaintances of the arrangement made. Mention of the fee-loans need not be made outside the privacy of the college treasury ledger. On the other band, free scholarships on the existing plan are always widely advertised, and the worst of them is that they are often given where they are not needed. Then why should it be more difficult to obtain a true sworn statement of income for this purpoce than for the collection of income-tax? The personal income-tax returns do not now give the true individual incomes in respect of dividends, &c., &c. ; but it used to do so with a fair approximation to accuracy. And no material harm or injustice would arise from making the minimum payment by parents £8, or 5 per cent. of £160, the minimum income which has to be declared for taxation.
     The essential aims of the suggestions here made are: (1) to ensure that the high training given to a small number of selected men and women shall be earnestly turned to real account in the general interests of the nation at large; (2) to make the scheme for defraying the costs very easy to the parents of the scholars beet fitted for such training, so that none of the best material shall be lost on account of the inability of parents to pay; (3) to remove, as far as is compatible with efficiency, the ultimate burden of the cost from the shoulders of the tax-payers, who in the bulk are poor and receive relatively small shares of the profits of industry, on to those of the men who reap relatively large shares of these profits because of this high training so given them by the State; (4) to make the repayment by the recipients of these benefits so easy as not to interfere with their personal prosperity and industrial utility; and (5) to minimise the total expenditure, and avoid wasteful expenditure, in this direction by restricting the number so trained to the requirements of the nation.
     The arguments and plans set forth here apply to high training in any or all the professions which are materially profitable to those who engage in them; manufacturing, commerce, law, medicine.
     They will not apply to several professions which do not bring high remuneration to their highly-educated members. Literature and music, divinity and pastoral work, the study and promotion of philosophy and of pure science, are such professions. They are certainly necessary for the welfare and progress of mankind, and mast be provided for, but on different principles to those applying to the remunerative professions. The bulk of the work done in them, including popular novel writing, popular preaching, and popular newspaper editing, is, and will probably remain, low-class, and sufficient provision is made for it in the universal general secondary education. But high-class work in these professions yields a nation's most precions possessions, and the men who do it are seldom paid for their work enough to provide them with food and clothing. It is evidently the duty of the State to provide for the highest possible education of these men on principles entirely distinct from those expounded in this paper.


     Westminster Review, June 1906