“Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household; and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”—Proverbs, xxxi. 25–28.
1. As with the Commander of an Army, or the leader of any enterprise, so is it with the mistress of a house. Her spirit will be seen through the whole establishment; and just in proportion as she performs her duties intelligently and thoroughly, so will her domestics follow in her path. Of all those acquirements, which more particularly belong to the feminine character, there are none which take a higher rank, in our estimation, than such as enter into a knowledge of household duties; for on these are perpetually dependent the happiness, comfort, and well-being of a family. In this opinion we are borne out by the author of “The Vicar of Wakefield,” who says: “The modest virgin, the prudent wife, and the careful matron, are much more serviceable in life than petticoated philosophers, blustering heroines, or virago queens. She who makes her husband and her children happy, who reclaims the one from vice and trains up the other to virtue, is a much greater character than ladies described in romances, whose whole occupation is to murder mankind with shafts from their quiver, or their eyes.”
2. Pursuing this Picture, we may add, that to be a good housewife does not necessarily imply an abandonment of proper pleasures or amusing recreation; and we think it the more necessary to express this, as the performance of the duties of a mistress may, to some minds, perhaps seem to be 2 incompatible with the enjoyment of life. Let us, however, now proceed to describe some of those home qualities and virtues which are necessary to the proper management of a Household, and then point out the plan which may be the most profitably pursued for the daily regulation of its affairs.
3. Early Rising is one of the most Essential Qualities which enter into good Household Management, as it is not only the parent of health, but of innumerable other advantages. Indeed, when a mistress is an early riser, it is almost certain that her house will be orderly and well-managed. On the contrary, if she remain in bed till a late hour, then the domestics, who, as we have before observed, invariably partake somewhat of their mistress’s character, will surely become sluggards. To self-indulgence all are more or less disposed, and it is not to be expected that servants are freer from this fault than the heads of houses. The great Lord Chatham thus gave his advice in reference to this subject:—“I would have inscribed on the curtains of your bed, and the walls of your chamber, ‘If you do not rise early, you can make progress in nothing.’”
4. Cleanliness is also indispensable to Health, and must be studied both in regard to the person and the house, and all that it contains. Cold or tepid baths should be employed every morning, unless, on account of illness or other circumstances, they should be deemed objectionable. The bathing of children will be treated of under the head of “Management of Children.”
5. Frugality and Economy are Home Virtues, without which no household can prosper. Dr. Johnson says: “Frugality may be termed the daughter of Prudence, the sister of Temperance, and the parent of Liberty. He that is extravagant will quickly become poor, and poverty will enforce dependence and invite corruption.” The necessity of practising economy should be evident to every one, whether in the possession of an income no more than sufficient for a family’s requirements, or of a large fortune, which puts financial adversity out of the question. We must always remember that it is a great merit in housekeeping to manage a little well. “He is a good waggoner,” says Bishop Hall, “that can turn in a little room. To live well in abundance is the praise of the estate, not of the person. I will study more how to give a good account of my little, than how to make it more.” In this there is true wisdom, and it may be added, that those who can manage a little well, are most likely to succeed in their management of larger matters. Economy and frugality must never, however, be allowed to degenerate into parsimony and meanness.
6. The Choice of Acquaintances is very important to the happiness of a mistress and her family. A gossiping acquaintance, who indulges in the 3 scandal and ridicule of her neighbours, should be avoided as a pestilence. It is likewise all-necessary to beware, as Thomson sings,
“The whisper’d tale,
That, like the fabling Nile, no fountain knows;—
Fair-faced Deceit, whose wily, conscious eye
Ne’er looks direct; the tongue that licks the dust
But, when it safely dares, as prompt to sting.”
If the duties of a family do not sufficiently occupy the time of a mistress, society should be formed of such a kind as will tend to the mutual interchange of general and interesting information.
7. Friendships should not be hastily formed, nor the heart given, at once, to every new-comer. There are ladies who uniformly smile at, and approve everything and everybody, and who possess neither the courage to reprehend vice, nor the generous warmth to defend virtue. The friendship of such persons is without attachment, and their love without affection or even preference. They imagine that every one who has any penetration is ill-natured, and look coldly on a discriminating judgment. It should be remembered, however, that this discernment does not always proceed from an uncharitable temper, but that those who possess a long experience and thorough knowledge of the world, scrutinise the conduct and dispositions of people before they trust themselves to the first fair appearances. Addison, who was not deficient in a knowledge of mankind, observes that “a friendship, which makes the least noise, is very often the most useful; for which reason, I should prefer a prudent friend to a zealous one.” And Joanna Baillie tells us that
“Friendship is no plant of hasty growth,
Though planted in esteem’s deep-fixèd soil,
The gradual culture of kind intercourse
Must bring it to perfection.”
8. Hospitality is a most Excellent Virtue; but care must be taken that the love of company, for its own sake, does not become a prevailing passion; for then the habit is no longer hospitality, but dissipation. Reality and truthfulness in this, as in all other duties of life, are the points to be studied; for, as Washington Irving well says, “There is an emanation from the heart in genuine hospitality, which cannot be described, but is immediately felt, and puts the stranger at once at his ease.” With respect to the continuance of friendships, however, it may be found necessary, in some cases, for a mistress to relinquish, on assuming the responsibility of a household, many of those commenced in the earlier part of her life. This will be the more requisite, if the number still retained be quite equal to her means and opportunities.4
9. In Conversation, Trifling Occurrences, such as small disappointments, petty annoyances, and other every-day incidents, should never be mentioned to your friends. The extreme injudiciousness of repeating these will be at once apparent, when we reflect on the unsatisfactory discussions which they too frequently occasion, and on the load of advice which they are the cause of being tendered, and which is, too often, of a kind neither to be useful nor agreeable. Greater events, whether of joy or sorrow, should be communicated to friends; and, on such occasions, their sympathy gratifies and comforts. If the mistress be a wife, never let an account of her husband’s failings pass her lips; and in cultivating the power of conversation, she should keep the versified advice of Cowper continually in her memory, that it
“Should flow like water after summer showers,
Not as if raised by mere mechanic powers.”
In reference to its style, Dr. Johnson, who was himself greatly distinguished for his colloquial abilities, says that “no style is more extensively acceptable than the narrative, because this does not carry an air of superiority over the rest of the company; and, therefore, is most likely to please them. For this purpose we should store our memory with short anecdotes and entertaining pieces of history. Almost every one listens with eagerness to extemporary history. Vanity often co-operates with curiosity; for he that is a hearer in one place wishes to qualify himself to be a principal speaker in some inferior company; and therefore more attention is given to narrations than anything else in conversation. It is true, indeed, that sallies of wit and quick replies are very pleasing in conversation; but they frequently tend to raise envy in some of the company: but the narrative way neither raises this, nor any other evil passion, but keeps all the company nearly upon an equality, and, if judiciously managed, will at once entertain and improve them all.”
10. Good Temper should be cultivated by every mistress, as upon it the welfare of the household may be said to turn; indeed, its influence can hardly be over-estimated, as it has the effect of moulding the characters of those around her, and of acting most beneficially on the happiness of the domestic circle. Every head of a household should strive to be cheerful, and should never fail to show a deep interest in all that appertains to the well-being of those who claim the protection of her roof. Gentleness, not partial and temporary, but universal and regular, should pervade her conduct; for where such a spirit is habitually manifested, it not only delights her children, but makes her domestics attentive and respectful; her visitors are also pleased by it, and their happiness is increased.
11. On the Important Subject of Dress and Fashion we cannot do better than quote an opinion from the eighth volume of the “Englishwoman’s 5 Domestic Magazine.” The writer there says, “Let people write, talk, lecture, satirize, as they may, it cannot be denied that, whatever is the prevailing mode in attire, let it intrinsically be ever so absurd, it will never look as ridiculous as another, or as any other, which, however convenient, comfortable, or even becoming, is totally opposite in style to that generally worn.”
12. In Purchasing Articles of Wearing Apparel, whether it be a silk dress, a bonnet, shawl, or riband, it is well for the buyer to consider three things: I. That it be not too expensive for her purse. II. That its colour harmonize with her complexion, and its size and pattern with her figure. III. That its tint allow of its being worn with the other garments she possesses. The quaint Fuller observes, that the good wife is none of our dainty dames, who love to appear in a variety of suits every day new, as if a gown, like a stratagem in war, were to be used but once. But our good wife sets up a sail according to the keel of her husband’s estate; and, if of high parentage, she doth not so remember what she was by birth, that she forgets what she is by match.
To Brunettes, or those ladies having dark complexions, silks of a grave hue are adapted. For Blondes, or those having fair complexions, lighter colours are preferable, as the richer, deeper hues are too overpowering for the latter. The colours which go best together are green with violet; gold-colour with dark crimson or lilac; pale blue with scarlet; pink with black or white; and gray with scarlet or pink. A cold colour generally requires a warm tint to give life to it. Gray and pale blue, for instance, do not combine well, both being cold colours.
13. The Dress of the Mistress should always be adapted to her circumstances, and be varied with different occasions. Thus, at breakfast she should be attired in a very neat and simple manner, wearing no ornaments. If this dress should decidedly pertain only to the breakfast-hour, and be specially suited for such domestic occupations as usually follow that meal, then it would be well to exchange it before the time for receiving visitors, if the mistress be in the habit of doing so. It is still to be remembered, however, that, in changing the dress, jewellery and ornaments are not to be worn until the full dress for dinner is assumed. Further information and hints on the subject of the toilet will appear under the department of the “Lady’s-Maid.”
The advice of Polonius to his son Laertes, in Shakspeare’s tragedy of “Hamlet,” is most excellent; and although given to one of the male sex, will equally apply to a “fayre ladye:”—
“Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express’d in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man.”
14. Charity and Benevolence are duties which a mistress owes to herself as well as to her fellow-creatures; and there is scarcely any income so small, but something may be spared from it, oven if it be but “the widow’s mite.” It is to be always remembered, however, that it is the spirit of charity 6 which imparts to the gift a value far beyond its actual amount, and is by far its better part.
True Charity, a plant divinely nursed,
Fed by the love from which it rose at first,
Thrives against hope, and, in the rudest scene,
Storms but enliven its unfading green;
Exub’rant is the shadow it supplies,
Its fruit on earth, its growth above the skies.
Visiting the houses of the poor is the only practical way really to understand the actual state of each family; and although there may be difficulties in following out this plan in the metropolis and other large cities, yet in country towns and rural districts these objections do not obtain. Great advantages may result from visits paid to the poor; for there being, unfortunately, much ignorance, generally, amongst them with respect to all household knowledge, there will be opportunities for advising and instructing them, in a pleasant and unobtrusive manner, in cleanliness, industry, cookery, and good management.
15. In Marketing, that the Best Articles are the Cheapest, may be laid down as a rule; and it is desirable, unless an experienced and confidential housekeeper be kept, that the mistress should herself purchase all provisions and stores needed for the house. If the mistress be a young wife, and not accustomed to order “things for the house,” a little practice and experience will soon teach her who are the best tradespeople to deal with, and what are the best provisions to buy. Under each particular head of Fish, Meat, Poultry, Game, &c., will be described the proper means of ascertaining the quality of these comestibles.
16. A Housekeeping Account-book should invariably be kept, and kept punctually and precisely. The plan for keeping household accounts, which we should recommend, would be to make an entry, that is, write down into a daily diary every amount paid on that particular day, be it ever so small; then, at the end of the month, let these various payments be ranged under their specific heads of Butcher, Baker, &c.; and thus will be seen the proportions paid to each tradesman, and any one month’s expenses may be contrasted with another. The housekeeping accounts should be balanced not less than once a month; so that you may see that the money you have in hand tallies with your account of it in your diary. Judge Haliburton never wrote truer words than when he said, “No man is rich whose expenditure exceeds his means, and no one is poor whose incomings exceed his outgoings.”
When, in a large establishment, a housekeeper is kept, it will be advisable for the mistress to examine her accounts regularly. Then any increase of expenditure which may be apparent, can easily be explained, and the housekeeper will have the satisfaction of knowing whether her efforts to manage her department well and economically, have been successful.
17. Engaging Domestics is one of those duties in which the judgment of the mistress must be keenly exercised. There are some respectable registry-offices, where good servants may sometimes be hired; but the plan rather to be recommended is, for the mistress to make inquiry amongst her 7 circle of friends and acquaintances, and her tradespeople. The latter generally know those in their neighbourhood, who are wanting situations, and will communicate with them, when a personal interview with some of them will enable the mistress to form some idea of the characters of the applicants, and to suit herself accordingly.
We would here point out an error—and a grave one it is—into which some mistresses fall. They do not, when engaging a servant, expressly tell her all the duties which she will be expected to perform. This is an act of omission severely to be reprehended. Every portion of work which the maid will have to do, should be plainly stated by the mistress, and understood by the servant. If this plan is not carefully adhered to, domestic contention is almost certain to ensue, and this may not be easily settled; so that a change of servants, which is so much to be deprecated, is continually occurring.
18. In obtaining a Servant’s Character, it is not well to be guided by a written one from some unknown quarter; but it is better to have an interview, if at all possible, with the former mistress. By this means you will be assisted in your decision of the suitableness of the servant for your place, from the appearance of the lady and the state of her house. Negligence and want of cleanliness in her and her household generally, will naturally lead you to the conclusion, that her servant has suffered from the influence of the bad example.
The proper course to pursue in order to obtain a personal interview with the lady is this:—The servant in search of the situation must be desired to see her former mistress, and ask her to be kind enough to appoint a time, convenient to herself, when you may call on her; this proper observance of courtesy being necessary to prevent any unseasonable intrusion on the part of a stranger. Your first questions should be relative to the honesty and general morality of her former servant; and if no objection is stated in that respect, her other qualifications are then to be ascertained. Inquiries should be very minute, so that you may avoid disappointment and trouble, by knowing the weak points of your domestic.
19. The Treatment of Servants is of the highest possible moment, as well to the mistress as to the domestics themselves. On the head of the house the latter will naturally fix their attention; and if they perceive that the mistress’s conduct is regulated by high and correct principles, they will not fail to respect her. If, also, a benevolent desire is shown to promote their comfort, at the same time that a steady performance of their duty is exacted, then their respect will not be unmingled with affection, and they will be still more solicitous to continue to deserve her favour.
20. In giving a Character, it is scarcely necessary to say that the mistress should be guided by a sense of strict justice. It is not fair for one lady to recommend to another, a servant she would not keep herself. The benefit, too, to the servant herself is of small advantage; for the failings which she possesses will increase if suffered to be indulged with impunity. It is hardly necessary to remark, on the other hand, that no angry feelings on the part of a mistress towards her late servant, should ever be allowed, in the slightest degree, to influence her, so far as to induce her to disparage her maid’s character.
21. The following Table of the Average Yearly Wages paid to domestics, with the various members of the household placed in the order 8 in which they are usually ranked, will serve as a guide to regulate the expenditure of an establishment:—
|When not found
|The House Steward||From||£40 to £80||—|
|The Valet||25 to 50||From||£20 to £30|
|The Butler||25 to 50||—|
|The Cook||20 to 40||—|
|The Gardener||20 to 40||—|
|The Footman||20 to 40||15 to 25|
|The Under Butler||15 to 30||15 to 25|
|The Coachman||—||20 to 35|
|The Groom||15 to 30||12 to 20|
|The Under Footman||—||12 to 20|
|The Page or Footboy||8 to 18||6 to 14|
|The Stableboy||6 to 12||—|
|When no extra
allowance is made for
Tea, Sugar, and Beer.
|When an extra
allowance is made for
Tea, Sugar, and Beer.
|The Housekeeper||From||£20 to £45||From||£18 to £40|
|The Lady’s-maid||12 to 25||10 to 20|
|The Head Nurse||15 to 30||13 to 26|
|The Cook||14 to 30||12 to 26|
|The Upper Housemaid||12 to 20||10 to 17|
|The Upper Laundry-maid||12 to 18||10 to 15|
|The Maid-of-all-work||9 to 14||7½ to 11|
|The Under Housemaid||8 to 12||6½ to 10|
|The Still-room Maid||9 to 14||8 to 12|
|The Nursemaid||8 to 12||5 to 10|
|The Under Laundry-maid||9 to 14||8 to 12|
|The Kitchen-maid||9 to 14||8 to 12|
|The Scullery-maid||5 to 9||4 to 8|
These quotations of wages are those usually given in or near the metropolis; but, of course, there are many circumstances connected with locality, and also having reference to the long service on the one hand, or the inexperience on the other, of domestics, which may render the wages still higher or lower than those named above. All the domestics mentioned in the above table would enter into the establishment of a wealthy nobleman. The number of servants, of course, would become smaller in proportion to the lesser size of the establishment; and we may here enumerate a scale of servants suited to various incomes, commencing with—
About £1,000 a year—A cook, upper housemaid, nursemaid, under housemaid, and a man servant.
About £750 a year—A cook, housemaid, nursemaid, and footboy.
About £500 a year—A cook, housemaid, and nursemaid.
About £300 a year—A maid-of-all-work and nursemaid.
About £200 or £150 a year—A maid-of-all-work (and girl occasionally).
22. Having thus indicated some of the more general duties of the mistress, relative to the moral government of her household, we will now give a few specific instructions on matters having a more practical relation to the position which she is supposed to occupy in the eye of the world. To do this the more clearly, we will begin with her earliest duties, and take her completely through the occupations of a day.
23. Having risen early, as we have already advised (see 3), and having given due attention to the bath, and made a careful toilet, it will be well at once to see that the children have received their proper ablutions, and 9 are in every way clean and comfortable. The first meal of the day, breakfast, will then be served, at which all the family should be punctually present, unless illness, or other circumstances, prevent.
24. After Breakfast is over, it will be well for the mistress to make a round of the kitchen and other offices, to see that all are in order, and that the morning’s work has been properly performed by the various domestics. The orders for the day should then be given, and any questions which the domestics desire to ask, respecting their several departments, should be answered, and any special articles they may require, handed to them from the store-closet.
In those establishments where there is a housekeeper, it will not be so necessary for the mistress, personally, to perform the above-named duties.
25. After this General Superintendence of her servants, the mistress, if a mother of a young family, may devote herself to the instruction of some of its younger members, or to the examination of the state of their wardrobe, leaving the later portion of the morning for reading, or for some amusing recreation. “Recreation,” says Bishop Hall, “is intended to the mind as whetting is to the scythe, to sharpen the edge of it, which would otherwise grow dull and blunt. He, therefore, that spends his whole time in recreation is ever whetting, never mowing; his grass may grow and his steed starve; as, contrarily, he that always toils and never recreates, is ever mowing, never whetting, labouring much to little purpose. As good no scythe as no edge. Then only doth the work go forward, when the scythe is so seasonably and moderately whetted that it may cut, and so cut, that it may have the help of sharpening.”
Unless the means of the mistress be very circumscribed, and she be obliged to devote a great deal of her time to the making of her children’s clothes, and other economical pursuits, it is right that she should give some time to the pleasures of literature, the innocent delights of the garden, and to the improvement of any special abilities for music, painting, and other elegant arts, which she may, happily, possess.
26. These Duties and Pleasures being performed and enjoyed, the hour of luncheon will have arrived. This is a very necessary meal between an early breakfast and a late dinner, as a healthy person, with good exercise, should have a fresh supply of food once in four hours. It should be a light meal; but its solidity must, of course, be, in some degree, proportionate to the time it is intended to enable you to wait for your dinner, and the amount of exercise you take in the mean time. At this time, also, the servants’ dinner will be served.
In those establishments where an early dinner is served, that will, of course, take the place of the luncheon. In many houses, where a nursery dinner is provided for the children at about one o’clock, the mistress and the elder portion of the family make their luncheon at the same time from the same joint, or whatever may be provided. A mistress will arrange, according to circumstances, the serving of the meal; but the more usual plan is for the lady of the house to have the joint brought to her table, and afterwards carried to the nursery.
27. After Luncheon, Morning Calls and Visits may be made and received. These may be divided under three heads: those of ceremony, friendship, and congratulation or condolence. Visits of ceremony, or courtesy, which occasionally merge into those of friendship, are to be paid under various circumstances. Thus, they are uniformly required after dining at a friend’s house, or after a ball, picnic, or any other party. These visits should be short, a stay of from fifteen to twenty minutes being quite sufficient. A lady paying a visit may remove her boa or neckerchief; but neither her shawl nor bonnet.
When other visitors are announced, it is well to retire as soon as possible, taking care to let it appear that their arrival is not the cause. When they are quietly seated, and the bustle of their entrance is over, rise from your chair, taking a kind leave of the hostess, and bowing politely to the guests. Should you call at an inconvenient time, not having ascertained the luncheon hour, or from any other inadvertence, retire as soon as possible, without, however, showing that you feel yourself an intruder. It is not difficult for any well-bred or even good-tempered person, to know what to say on such an occasion, and, on politely withdrawing, a promise can be made to call again, if the lady you have called on, appear really disappointed.
28. In Paying Visits of Friendship, it will not be so necessary to be guided by etiquette as in paying visits of ceremony; and if a lady be pressed by her friend to remove her shawl and bonnet, it can be done if it will not interfere with her subsequent arrangements. It is, however, requisite to call at suitable times, and to avoid staying too long, if your friend is engaged. The courtesies of society should ever be maintained, even in the domestic circle, and amongst the nearest friends. During these visits, the manners should be easy and cheerful, and the subjects of conversation such as may be readily terminated. Serious discussions or arguments are to be altogether avoided, and there is much danger and impropriety in expressing opinions of those persons and characters with whom, perhaps, there is but a slight acquaintance. (See 6, 7, and 9.)
It is not advisable, at any time, to take favourite dogs into another lady’s drawing-room, for many persons have an absolute dislike to such animals; and besides this, there is always a chance of a breakage of some article occurring, through their leaping and bounding here and there, sometimes very much to the fear and annoyance of the hostess. Her children, also, unless they are particularly well-trained and orderly, and she is on exceedingly friendly terms with the hostess, should not accompany a lady in making morning calls. Where a lady, however, pays her visits in a carriage, the children can be taken in the vehicle, and remain in it until the visit is over.
29. For Morning Calls, it is well to be neatly attired; for a costume very different to that you generally wear, or anything approaching an evening dress, will be very much out of place. As a general rule, it may be said, both in reference to this and all other occasions, it is better to be under-dressed than over-dressed.
A strict account should be kept of ceremonial visits, and notice how soon your visits have been returned. An opinion may thus be formed as to whether your frequent visits are, or are not, desirable. There are, naturally, instances when the circumstances of old age or ill health will preclude any return of a call; but when this is the case, it must not interrupt the discharge of the duty.
30. In Paying Visits of Condolence, it is to be remembered that they 11 should be paid within a week after the event which occasions them. If the acquaintance, however, is but slight, then immediately after the family has appeared at public worship. A lady should send in her card, and if her friends be able to receive her, the visitor’s manner and conversation should be subdued and in harmony with the character of her visit. Courtesy would dictate that a mourning card should be used, and that visitors, in paying condoling visits, should be dressed in black, either silk or plain-coloured apparel. Sympathy with the affliction of the family, is thus expressed, and these attentions are, in such cases, pleasing and soothing.
In all these visits, if your acquaintance or friend be not at home, a card should be left. If in a carriage, the servant will answer your inquiry and receive your card; if paying your visits on foot, give your card to the servant in the hall, but leave to go in and rest should on no account be asked. The form of words, “Not at home,” may be understood in different senses; but the only courteous way is to receive them as being perfectly true. You may imagine that the lady of the house is really at home, and that she would make an exception in your favour, or you may think that your acquaintance is not desired; but, in either case, not the slightest word is to escape you, which would suggest, on your part, such an impression.
31. In Receiving Morning Calls, the foregoing description of the etiquette to be observed in paying them, will be of considerable service. It is to be added, however, that the occupations of drawing, music, or reading should be suspended on the entrance of morning visitors. If a lady, however, be engaged with light needlework, and none other is appropriate in the drawing-room, it may not be, under some circumstances, inconsistent with good breeding to quietly continue it during conversation, particularly if the visit be protracted, or the visitors be gentlemen.
Formerly the custom was to accompany all visitors quitting the house to the door, and there take leave of them; but modern society, which has thrown off a great deal of this kind of ceremony, now merely requires that the lady of the house should rise from her seat, shake hands, or courtesy, in accordance with the intimacy she has with her guests, and ring the bell to summon the servant to attend them and open the door. In making a first call, either upon a newly-married couple, or persons newly arrived in the neighbourhood, a lady should leave her husband’s card together with her own, at the same time, stating that the profession or business in which he is engaged has prevented him from having the pleasure of paying the visit, with her. It is a custom with many ladies, when on the eve of an absence from their neighbourhood, to leave or send their own and husband’s cards, with the letters P. P. C. in the right-hand corner. These letters are the initials of the French words, “Pour prendre congé,” meaning, “To take leave.”
32. The Morning Calls being paid or received, and their etiquette properly attended to, the next great event of the day in most establishments is “The Dinner;” and we only propose here to make a few general remarks on this important topic, as, in future pages, the whole “Art of Dining” will be thoroughly considered, with reference to its economy, comfort, and enjoyment.
33. In giving or accepting an Invitation for Dinner, the following is the form of words generally made use of. They, however, can be varied in proportion to the intimacy or position of the hosts and guests:—12
Mr. and Mrs. A—— present their compliments to Mr. and Mrs. B——, and request the honour, [or hope to have the pleasure] of their company to dinner on Wednesday, the 6th of December next.
November 13th, 1859.
R. S. V. P.
The letters in the corner imply “Répondez, s’il vous plaît;” meaning, “an answer will oblige.” The reply, accepting the invitation, is couched in the following terms:—
Mr. and Mrs. B—— present their compliments to Mr. and Mrs. A——, and will do themselves the honour of, [or will have much pleasure in] accepting their kind invitation to dinner on the 6th of December next.
November 18th, 1859.
Cards, or invitations for a dinner-party, should be issued a fortnight or three weeks (sometimes even a month) beforehand, and care should be taken by the hostess, in the selection of the invited guests, that they should be suited to each other. Much also of the pleasure of a dinner-party will depend on the arrangement of the guests at table, so as to form a due admixture of talkers and listeners, the grave and the gay. If an invitation to dinner is accepted, the guests should be punctual, and the mistress ready in her drawing-room to receive them. At some periods it has been considered fashionable to come late to dinner, but lately nous avons changé tout cela.
34. The Half-hour before Dinner has always been considered as the great ordeal through which the mistress, in giving a dinner-party, will either pass with flying colours, or, lose many of her laurels. The anxiety to receive her guests,—her hope that all will be present in due time,—her trust in the skill of her cook, and the attention of the other domestics, all tend to make these few minutes a trying time. The mistress, however, must display no kind of agitation, but show her tact in suggesting light and cheerful subjects of conversation, which will be much aided by the introduction of any particular new book, curiosity of art, or article of vertu, which may pleasantly engage the attention of the company. “Waiting for Dinner,” however, is a trying time, and there are few who have not felt—
“How sad it is to sit and pine,
The long half-hour before we dine!
Upon our watches oft to look,
Then wonder at the clock and cook,
* * * * *
And strive to laugh in spite of Fate!
But laughter forced soon quits the room,
And leaves it in its former gloom.
But lo! the dinner now appears,
The object of our hopes and fears,
The end of all our pain!”
In giving an entertainment of this kind, the mistress should remember that it is her duty to make her guests feel happy, comfortable, and quite at their ease; and the guests 13 should also consider that they have come to the house of their hostess to be happy. Thus an opportunity is given to all for innocent enjoyment and intellectual improvement, when also acquaintances may be formed that may prove invaluable through life, and information gained that will enlarge the mind. Many celebrated men and women have been great talkers; and, amongst others, the genial Sir Walter Scott, who spoke freely to every one, and a favourite remark of whom it was, that he never did so without learning something he didn’t know before.
35. Dinner being announced, the host offers his arm to, and places on his right hand at the dinner-table, the lady to whom he desires to pay most respect, either on account of her age, position, or from her being the greatest stranger in the party. If this lady be married and her husband present, the latter takes the hostess to her place at table, and seats himself at her right hand. The rest of the company follow in couples, as specified by the master and mistress of the house, arranging the party according to their rank and other circumstances which may be known to the host and hostess.
It will be found of great assistance to the placing of a party at the dinner-table, to have the names of the guests neatly (and correctly) written on small cards, and placed at that part of the table where it is desired they should sit. With respect to the number of guests, it has often been said, that a private dinner-party should consist of not less than the number of the Graces, or more than that of the Muses. A party of ten or twelve is, perhaps, in a general way, sufficient to enjoy themselves and be enjoyed. White kid gloves are worn by ladies at dinner-parties, but should be taken off before the business of dining commences.
36. The Guests being Seated at the Dinner-table, the lady begins to help the soup, which is handed round, commencing with the gentleman on her right and on her left, and continuing in the same order till all are served. It is generally established as a rule, not to ask for soup or fish twice, as, in so doing, part of the company may be kept waiting too long for the second course, when, perhaps, a little revenge is taken by looking at the awkward consumer of a second portion. This rule, however, may, under various circumstances, not be considered as binding.
It is not usual, where taking wine is en règle, for a gentleman to ask a lady to take wine until the fish or soup is finished, and then the gentleman honoured by sitting on the right of the hostess, may politely inquire if she will do him the honour of taking wine with him. This will act as a signal to the rest of the company, the gentleman of the house most probably requesting the same pleasure of the ladies at his right and left. At many tables, however, the custom or fashion of drinking wine in this manner, is abolished, and the servant fills the glasses of the guests with the various wines suited to the course which is in progress.
37. When Dinner is finished, the Dessert is placed on the table, accompanied with finger-glasses. It is the custom of some gentlemen to wet a corner of the napkin; but the hostess, whose behaviour will set the tone to all the ladies present, will merely wet the tips of her fingers, which will serve all the purposes required. The French and other continentals have a habit of gargling the mouth; but it is a custom which no English gentlewoman should, in the slightest degree, imitate.
38. When Fruit has been taken, and a glass or two of wine passed round, the time will have arrived when the hostess will rise, and thus give 14 the signal for the ladies to leave the gentlemen, and retire to the drawing-room. The gentlemen of the party will rise at the same time, and he who is nearest the door, will open it for the ladies, all remaining courteously standing until the last lady has withdrawn. Dr. Johnson has a curious paragraph on the effects of a dinner on men. “Before dinner,” he says, “men meet with great inequality of understanding; and those who are conscious of their inferiority have the modesty not to talk. When they have drunk wine, every man feels himself happy, and loses that modesty, and grows impudent and vociferous; but he is not improved, he is only not sensible of his defects.” This is rather severe, but there may be truth in it.
In former times, when the bottle circulated freely amongst the guests, it was necessary for the ladies to retire earlier than they do at present, for the gentlemen of the company soon became unfit to conduct themselves with that decorum which is essential in the presence of ladies. Thanks, however, to the improvements in modern society, and the high example shown to the nation by its most illustrious personages, temperance is, in these happy days, a striking feature in the character of a gentleman. Delicacy of conduct towards the female sex has increased with the esteem in which they are now universally held, and thus, the very early withdrawing of the ladies from the dining-room is to be deprecated. A lull in the conversation will seasonably indicate the moment for the ladies’ departure.
39. After-dinner Invitations may be given; by which we wish to be understood, invitations for the evening. The time of the arrival of these visitors will vary according to their engagements, or sometimes will be varied in obedience to the caprices of fashion. Guests invited for the evening are, however, generally considered at liberty to arrive whenever it will best suit themselves,—usually between nine and twelve, unless earlier hours are specifically named. By this arrangement, many fashionable people and others, who have numerous engagements to fulfil, often contrive to make their appearance at two or three parties in the course of one evening.
40. The Etiquette of the Dinner-party Table being disposed of, let us now enter slightly into that of an evening party or ball. The invitations issued and accepted for either of these, will be written in the same style as those already described for a dinner-party. They should be sent out at least three weeks before the day fixed for the event, and should be replied to within a week of their receipt. By attending to these courtesies, the guests will have time to consider their engagements and prepare their dresses, and the hostess will, also, know what will be the number of her party.
If the entertainment is to be simply an evening party, this must be specified on the card or note of invitation. Short or verbal invitations, except where persons are exceedingly intimate, or are very near relations, are very far from proper, although, of course, in this respect and in many other respects, very much always depends on the manner in which the invitation is given. True politeness, however, should be studied even amongst the nearest friends and relations; for the mechanical forms of good breeding are of great consequence, and too much familiarity may have, for its effect, the destruction of friendship.
41. As the Ladies and Gentlemen arrive, each should be shown to a room exclusively provided for their reception; and in that set apart for the 15 ladies, attendants should be in waiting to assist in uncloaking, and helping to arrange the hair and toilet of those who require it. It will be found convenient, in those cases where the number of guests is large, to provide numbered tickets, so that they can be attached to the cloaks and shawls of each lady, a duplicate of which should be handed to the guest. Coffee is sometimes provided in this, or an ante-room, for those who would like to partake of it.
42. As the Visitors are announced by the Servant, it is not necessary for the lady of the house to advance each time towards the door, but merely to rise from her seat to receive their courtesies and congratulations. If, indeed, the hostess wishes to show particular favour to some peculiarly honoured guests, she may introduce them to others, whose acquaintance she may imagine will be especially suitable and agreeable. It is very often the practice of the master of the house to introduce one gentleman to another, but occasionally the lady performs this office; when it will, of course, be polite for the persons thus introduced to take their seats together for the time being.
The custom of non-introduction is very much in vogue in many houses, and guests are thus left to discover for themselves the position and qualities of the people around them. The servant, indeed, calls out the names of all the visitors as they arrive, but, in many instances, mispronounces them; so that it will not be well to follow this information, as if it were an unerring guide. In our opinion, it is a cheerless and depressing custom, although, in thus speaking, we do not allude to the large assemblies of the aristocracy, but to the smaller parties of the middle classes.
43. A Separate Room or Convenient Buffet should be appropriated for refreshments, and to which the dancers may retire; and cakes and biscuits, with wine negus, lemonade, and ices, handed round. A supper is also mostly provided at the private parties of the middle classes; and this requires, on the part of the hostess, a great deal of attention and supervision. It usually takes place between the first and second parts of the programme of the dances, of which there should be several prettily written or printed copies distributed about the ball-room.
In private parties, a lady is not to refuse the invitation of a gentleman to dance, unless she be previously engaged. The hostess must be supposed to have asked to her house only those persons whom she knows to be perfectly respectable and of unblemished character, as well as pretty equal in position; and thus, to decline the offer of any gentleman present, would be a tacit reflection on the master and mistress of the house. It may be mentioned here, more especially for the young who will read this book, that introductions at balls or evening parties, cease with the occasion that calls them forth, no introduction, at these times, giving a gentleman a right to address, afterwards, a lady. She is, consequently, free, next morning, to pass her partner at a ball of the previous evening without the slightest recognition.
44. The Ball is generally Opened, that is, the first place in the first quadrille is occupied, by the lady of the house. When anything prevents this, the host will usually lead off the dance with the lady who is either the highest in rank, or the greatest stranger. It will be well for the hostess, even if she be very partial to the amusement, and a graceful dancer, not to participate in 16 it to any great extent, lest her lady guests should have occasion to complain of her monopoly of the gentlemen, and other causes of neglect. A few dances will suffice to show her interest in the entertainment, without unduly trenching on the attention due to her guests. In all its parts a ball should be perfect,—
“The music, and the banquet, and the wine;
The garlands, the rose-odours, and the flowers.”
The hostess or host, during the progress of a ball, will courteously accost and chat with their friends, and take care that the ladies are furnished with seats, and that those who wish to dance are provided with partners. A gentle hint from the hostess, conveyed in a quiet ladylike manner, that certain ladies have remained unengaged during several dances, is sure not to be neglected by any gentleman. Thus will be studied the comfort and enjoyment of the guests, and no lady, in leaving the house, will be able to feel the chagrin and disappointment of not having been invited to “stand up” in a dance during the whole of the evening.
45. When any of the Carriages of the Guests are announced, or the time for their departure arrived, they should make a slight intimation to the hostess, without, however, exciting any observation, that they are about to depart. If this cannot be done, however, without creating too much bustle, it will be better for the visitors to retire quietly without taking their leave. During the course of the week, the hostess will expect to receive from every guest a call, where it is possible, or cards expressing the gratification experienced from her entertainment. This attention is due to every lady for the pains and trouble she has been at, and tends to promote social, kindly feelings.
46. Having thus discoursed of parties of pleasure, it will be an interesting change to return to the more domestic business of the house, although all the details we have been giving of dinner-parties, balls, and the like, appertain to the department of the mistress. Without a knowledge of the etiquette to be observed on these occasions, a mistress would be unable to enjoy and appreciate those friendly pleasant meetings which give, as it were, a fillip to life, and make the quiet happy home of an English gentlewoman appear the more delightful and enjoyable. In their proper places, all that is necessary to be known respecting the dishes and appearance of the breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper tables, will be set forth in this work.
47. A Family Dinner at Home, compared with either giving or going to a dinner-party, is, of course, of much more frequent occurrence, and many will say, of much greater importance. Both, however, have to be considered with a view to their nicety and enjoyment; and the latter more particularly with reference to economy. These points will be especially noted in the following pages on “Household Cookery.” Here we will only say, that for both mistress and servants, as well in large as small households, it will be found, by far, the better plan, to cook and serve the dinner, and to lay the tablecloth and the sideboard, with the same cleanliness, neatness, and scrupulous exactness, whether it be for the mistress herself alone, a small family, or for “company.” If this rule be strictly 17 C adhered to, all will find themselves increase in managing skill; whilst a knowledge of their daily duties will become familiar, and enable them to meet difficult occasions with ease, and overcome any amount of obstacles.
48. Of the Manner of Passing Evenings at Home, there is none pleasanter than in such recreative enjoyments as those which relax the mind from its severer duties, whilst they stimulate it with a gentle delight. Where there are young people forming a part of the evening circle, interesting and agreeable pastime should especially be promoted. It is of incalculable benefit to them that their homes should possess all the attractions of healthful amusement, comfort, and happiness; for if they do not find pleasure there, they will seek it elsewhere. It ought, therefore, to enter into the domestic policy of every parent, to make her children feel that home is the happiest place in the world; that to imbue them with this delicious home-feeling is one of the choicest gifts a parent can bestow.
Light or fancy needlework often forms a portion of the evening’s recreation for the ladies of the household, and this may be varied by an occasional game at chess or backgammon. It has often been remarked, too, that nothing is more delightful to the feminine members of a family, than the reading aloud of some good standard work or amusing publication. A knowledge of polite literature may be thus obtained by the whole family, especially if the reader is able and willing to explain the more difficult passages of the book, and expatiate on the wisdom and beauties it may contain. This plan, in a great measure, realizes the advice of Lord Bacon, who says, “Read not to contradict and refute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.”
49. In Retiring for the Night, it is well to remember that early rising is almost impossible, if late going to bed be the order, or rather disorder, of the house. The younger members of a family should go early and at regular hours to their beds, and the domestics as soon as possible after a reasonably appointed hour. Either the master or the mistress of a house should, after all have gone to their separate rooms, see that all is right with respect to the lights and fires below; and no servants should, on any account, be allowed to remain up after the heads of the house have retired.
50. Having thus gone from Early Rising to Early Retiring, there remain only now to be considered a few special positions respecting which the mistress of the house will be glad to receive some specific information.
51. When a Mistress Takes a House in a new locality, it will be etiquette for her to wait until the older inhabitants of the neighbourhood call upon her; thus evincing a desire, on their part, to become acquainted with the new comer. It may be, that the mistress will desire an intimate acquaintance with but few of her neighbours; but it is to be specially borne in mind that all visits, whether of ceremony, friendship, or condolence, should be punctiliously returned.18
52. You may perhaps have been favoured with letters of introduction from some of your friends, to persons living in the neighbourhood to which you have just come. In this case inclose the letter of introduction in an envelope with your card. Then, if the person, to whom it is addressed, calls in the course of a few days, the visit should be returned by you within the week, if possible. Any breach of etiquette, in this respect, will not readily be excused.
In the event of your being invited to dinner under the above circumstances, nothing but necessity should prevent you from accepting the invitation. If, however, there is some distinct reason why you cannot accept, let it be stated frankly and plainly, for politeness and truthfulness should be ever allied. An opportunity should, also, be taken to call in the course of a day or two, in order to politely express your regret and disappointment at not having been able to avail yourself of their kindness.
53. In Giving a Letter of Introduction, it should always be handed to your friend, unsealed. Courtesy dictates this, as the person whom you are introducing would, perhaps, wish to know in what manner he or she was spoken of. Should you receive a letter from a friend, introducing to you any person known to and esteemed by the writer, the letter should be immediately acknowledged, and your willingness expressed to do all in your power to carry out his or her wishes.
54. Such are the onerous Duties which enter into the position of the mistress of a house, and such are, happily, with a slight but continued attention, of by no means difficult performance. She ought always to remember that she is the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega in the government of her establishment; and that it is by her conduct that its whole internal policy is regulated. She is, therefore, a person of far more importance in a community than she usually thinks she is. On her pattern her daughters model themselves; by her counsels they are directed; through her virtues all are honoured;—“her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband, also, and he praiseth her.” Therefore, let each mistress always remember her responsible position, never approving a mean action, nor speaking an unrefined word. Let her conduct be such that her inferiors may respect her, and such as an honourable and right-minded man may look for in his wife and the mother of his children. Let her think of the many compliments and the sincere homage that have been paid to her sex by the greatest philosophers and writers, both in ancient and modern times. Let her not forget that she has to show herself worthy of Campbell’s compliment when he said,—
“The world was sad! the garden was a wild!
And man the hermit sigh’d, till woman smiled.”
Let her prove herself, then, the happy companion of man, and able to take unto herself the praises of the pious prelate, Jeremy Taylor, who says,—“A good wife is Heaven’s last best gift to man,—his angel and minister of graces innumerable,—his gem of many virtues,—his casket of jewels—her 19 voice is sweet music—her smiles his brightest day;—her kiss, the guardian of his innocence;—her arms, the pale of his safety, the balm of his health, the balsam of his life;—her industry, his surest wealth;—her economy, his safest steward;—her lips, his faithful counsellors;—her bosom, the softest pillow of his cares; and her prayers, the ablest advocates of Heaven’s blessings on his head.”
Cherishing, then, in her breast the respected utterances of the good and the great, let the mistress of every house rise to the responsibility of its management; so that, in doing her duty to all around her, she may receive the genuine reward of respect, love, and affection!
Note.—Many mistresses have experienced the horrors of house-hunting, and it is well known that “three removes are as good (or bad, rather) as a fire.” Nevertheless, it being quite evident that we must, in these days at least, live in houses, and are sometimes obliged to change our residences, it is well to consider some of the conditions which will add to, or diminish, the convenience and comfort of our homes.
Although the choice of a house must be dependent on so many different circumstances with different people, that to give any specific directions on this head would be impossible and useless; yet it will be advantageous, perhaps, to many, if we point out some of those general features as to locality, soil, aspect, &c., to which the attention of all house-takers should be carefully directed.
Regarding the locality, we may say, speaking now more particularly of a town house, that it is very important to the health and comfort of a family, that the neighbourhood of all factories of any kind, producing unwholesome effluvia or smells, should be strictly avoided. Neither is it well to take a house in the immediate vicinity of where a noisy trade is carried on, as it is unpleasant to the feelings, and tends to increase any existing irritation of the system.
Referring to soils; it is held as a rule, that a gravel soil is superior to any other, as the rain drains through it very quickly, and it is consequently drier and less damp than clay, upon which water rests a far longer time. A clay country, too, is not so pleasant for walking exercise as one in which gravel predominates.
The aspect of the house should be well considered, and it should be borne in mind that the more sunlight that comes into the house, the healthier is the habitation. The close, fetid smell which assails one on entering a narrow court, or street, in towns, is to be assigned to the want of light, and, consequently, air. A house with a south or south-west aspect, is lighter, warmer, drier, and consequently more healthy, than one facing the north or north-east.
Great advances have been made, during the last few years, in the principles of sanitary knowledge, and one most essential point to be observed in reference to a house, is its “drainage,” as it has been proved in an endless number of cases, that bad or defective drainage is as certain to destroy health as the taking of poisons. This arises from its injuriously affecting the atmosphere; thus rendering the air we breathe unwholesome and deleterious. Let it be borne in mind, then, that unless a house is effectually drained, the health of its inhabitants is sure to suffer; and they will be susceptible of ague rheumatism, diarrhœa, fevers, and cholera.
We now come to an all-important point,—that of the water supply. The value of this necessary article has also been lately more and more recognized in connection with the question of health and life; and most houses are well supplied with every convenience connected with water. Let it, however, be well understood, that no house, however suitable in other respects, can be 20 desirable, if this grand means of health and comfort is, in the slightest degree, scarce or impure. No caution can be too great to see that it is pure and good, as well as plentiful; for, knowing, as we do, that not a single part of our daily food is prepared without it, the importance of its influence on the health of the inmates of a house cannot be over-rated.
Ventilation is another feature which must not be overlooked. In a general way, enough of air is admitted by the cracks round the doors and windows; but if this be not the case, the chimney will smoke; and other plans, such as the placing of a plate of finely-perforated zinc in the upper part of the window, must be used. Cold air should never be admitted under the doors, or at the bottom of a room, unless it be close to the fire or stove; for it will flow along the floor towards the fireplace, and thus leave the foul air in the upper part of the room, unpurified, cooling, at the same time, unpleasantly and injuriously, the feet and legs of the inmates.
The rent of a house, it has been said, should not exceed one-eighth of the whole income of its occupier; and, as a general rule, we are disposed to assent to this estimate, although there may be many circumstances which would not admit of its being considered infallible.
55. As second in Command in the House, except in large establishments, where there is a house steward, the housekeeper must consider herself as the immediate representative of her mistress, and bring, to the management of the household, all those qualities of honesty, industry, and vigilance, in the same degree as if she were at the head of her own family. Constantly on the watch to detect any wrong-doing on the part of any of the domestics, she will overlook all that goes on in the house, and will see that every department is thoroughly attended to, and that the servants are comfortable, at the same time that their various duties are properly performed.
Cleanliness, punctuality, order, and method, are essentials in the character of a good housekeeper. Without the first, no household can be said to be well managed. The second is equally all-important; for those who are under the housekeeper will take their “cue” from her; and in the same proportion as punctuality governs her movements, so will it theirs. Order, again, is indispensable; for by it we wish to be understood that “there should be a place for everything, and everything in its place.” Method, too, is most necessary; for when the work is properly contrived, and each part arranged in regular succession, it will be done more quickly and more effectually.
56. A necessary qualification for a housekeeper is, that she should be thoroughly able to understand accounts. She will have to write in her books an accurate registry of all sums paid for any and every purpose, all the current expenses of the house, tradesmen’s bills, and other extraneous matter. As we have mentioned under the head of the Mistress (see 16), a housekeeper’s accounts should be periodically balanced, and examined by the head of the house. Nothing tends more to the satisfaction of both employer and employed, than this arrangement. “Short reckonings make long friends,” stands good in this case, as in others.
It will be found an excellent plan to take an account of every article which comes into the house connected with housekeeping, and is not paid for at the time. The book containing these entries can then be compared with the bills sent in by the various tradesmen, so that any discrepancy can be inquired into and set right. An intelligent housekeeper will, by this means, too, be better able to judge of the average consumption of each article by the household; and if that quantity be, at any time, exceeded, the cause may be discovered and rectified, if it proceed from waste or carelessness.
57. Although in the department of the Cook, the housekeeper does not generally much interfere, yet it is necessary that she should possess a good knowledge of the culinary art, as, in many instances, it may be requisite for her to take the superintendence of the kitchen. As a rule, it may be stated, that the housekeeper, in those establishments where there is no house steward or man cook, undertakes the preparation of the confectionary, attends 22 to the preserving and pickling of fruits and vegetables; and, in a general way, to the more difficult branches of the art of cookery.
Much of these arrangements will depend, however, on the qualifications of the cook; for instance, if she be an able artiste, there will be but little necessity for the housekeeper to interfere, except in the already noticed articles of confectionary, &c. On the contrary, if the cook be not so clever an adept in her art, then it will be requisite for the housekeeper to give more of her attention to the business of the kitchen, than in the former case. It will be one of the duties of the housekeeper to attend to the marketing, in the absence of either a house steward or man cook.
58. The Daily duties of a Housekeeper are regulated, in a great measure, by the extent of the establishment she superintends. She should, however, rise early, and see that all the domestics are duly performing their work, and that everything is progressing satisfactorily for the preparation of the breakfast for the household and family. After breakfast, which, in large establishments, she will take in the “housekeeper’s room” with the lady’s-maid, butler, and valet, and where they will be waited on by the still-room maid, she will, on various days set apart for each purpose, carefully examine the household linen, with a view to its being repaired, or to a further quantity being put in hand to be made; she will also see that the furniture throughout the house is well rubbed and polished; and will, besides, attend to all the necessary details of marketing and ordering goods from the tradesmen.
The housekeeper’s room is generally made use of by the lady’s-maid, butler, and valet, who take there their breakfast, tea, and supper. The lady’s-maid will also use this apartment as a sitting-room, when not engaged with her lady, or with some other duties, which would call her elsewhere. In different establishments, according to their size and the rank of the family, different rules of course prevail. For instance, in the mansions of those of very high rank, and where there is a house steward, there are two distinct tables kept, one in the steward’s room for the principal members of the household, the other in the servants’ hall, for the other domestics. At the steward’s dinner-table, the steward and housekeeper preside; and here, also, are present the lady’s-maid, butler, valet, and head gardener. Should any visitors be staying with the family, their servants, generally the valet and lady’s-maid, will be admitted to the steward’s table.
59. After Dinner, the housekeeper, having seen that all the members of the establishment have regularly returned to their various duties, and that all the departments of the household are in proper working order, will have many important matters claiming her attention. She will, possibly, have to give the finishing touch to some article of confectionary, or be occupied with some of the more elaborate processes of the still-room. There may also be the dessert to arrange, ice-creams to make; and all those employments call for no ordinary degree of care, taste, and attention.
The still-room was formerly much more in vogue than at present; for in days of “auld lang syne,” the still was in constant requisition for the supply of sweet-flavoured waters for the purposes of cookery, scents and aromatic substances used in the preparation of the toilet, and cordials in cases of accidents and illness. There are some establishments, however, in which distillation is still carried on, and in these, the still-room maid has her old duties to perform. In a general way, however, this domestic is immediately concerned with the housekeeper. For the latter she lights the fire, dusts her room, prepares the breakfast-table, and waits at the different meals taken in the housekeeper’s room (see 58). A still-room maid may learn a very great deal of useful knowledge from her intimate connection with the housekeeper, and if she be active and intelligent, may soon fit herself for a better position in the household.
60. In the Evening, the housekeeper will often busy herself with the necessary preparations for the next day’s duties. Numberless small, but still important arrangements, will have to be made, so that everything may move smoothly. At times, perhaps, attention will have to be paid to the breaking of lump-sugar, the stoning of raisins, the washing, cleansing, and drying of currants, &c. The evening, too, is the best time for setting right her account of the expenditure, and duly writing a statement of moneys received and paid, and also for making memoranda of any articles she may require for her storeroom or other departments.
Periodically, at some convenient time,—for instance, quarterly or half-yearly, it is a good plan for the housekeeper to make an inventory of everything she has under her care, and compare this with the lists of a former period; she will then be able to furnish a statement, if necessary, of the articles which, on account of time, breakage, loss, or other causes, it has been necessary to replace or replenish.
61. In concluding these remarks on the duties of the housekeeper, we will briefly refer to the very great responsibility which attaches to her position. Like “Cæsar’s wife,” she should be “above suspicion,” and her honesty and sobriety unquestionable; for there are many temptations to which she is exposed. In a physical point of view, a housekeeper should be healthy and strong, and be particularly clean in her person, and her hands, although they may show a degree of roughness, from the nature of some of her employments, yet should have a nice inviting appearance. In her dealings with the various tradesmen, and in her behaviour to the domestics under her, the demeanour and conduct of the housekeeper should be such as, in neither case, to diminish, by an undue familiarity, her authority or influence.
Note.—It will be useful for the mistress and housekeeper to know the best seasons for various occupations connected with Household Management; and we, accordingly, subjoin a few hints which we think will prove valuable.
As, in the winter months, servants have much more to do, in consequence of the necessity there is to attend to the number of fires throughout the household, not much more than the ordinary every-day work can be attempted.
In the summer, and when the absence of fires gives the domestics more leisure, then any extra work that is required, can be more easily performed.
The spring is the usual period set apart for house-cleaning, and removing all the dust and dirt, which will necessarily, with the best of housewives, accumulate during the winter months, from the smoke of the coal, oil, gas, &c. This season is also well adapted for washing and bleaching linen, &c., as, the weather, not being then too hot for the exertions necessary in washing counterpanes, blankets, and heavy things in general, the work is better and more easily done than in the intense heats of July, which month some recommend for these purposes. Winter curtains should be taken down, and replaced by the summer white ones; and furs and woollen cloths also carefully laid by. The former should be well shaken and brushed, and then pinned upon paper or linen, with camphor to preserve them from the moths. Furs, &c., will be preserved in the same way. Included, under the general description of house-cleaning, must be understood, turning out all the nooks and corners of drawers, cupboards, lumber-rooms, lofts, &c., with a view of getting rid of all unnecessary articles, which only create dirt and attract vermin; sweeping of chimneys, taking up carpets, painting and whitewashing the kitchen and offices, papering rooms, when needed, and, generally speaking, 24 the house putting on, with the approaching summer, a bright appearance, and a new face, in unison with nature. Oranges now should be preserved, and orange wine made.
The summer will be found, as we have mentioned above, in consequence of the diminution of labour for the domestics, the best period for examining and repairing household linen, and for “putting to rights” all those articles which have received a large share of wear and tear during the dark winter days. In direct reference to this matter, we may here remark, that sheets should be turned “sides to middle” before they are allowed to get very thin. Otherwise, patching, which is uneconomical from the time it consumes, and is unsightly in point of appearance, will have to be resorted to. In June and July, gooseberries, currants, raspberries, strawberries, and other summer fruits, should be preserved, and jams and jellies made. In July, too, the making of walnut ketchup should be attended to, as the green walnuts will be approaching perfection for this purpose. Mixed pickles may also be now made, and it will be found a good plan to have ready a jar of pickle-juice (for the making of which all information will be given in future pages), into which to put occasionally some young French beans, cauliflowers, &c.
In the early autumn, plums of various kinds are to be bottled and preserved, and jams and jellies made. A little later, tomato sauce, a most useful article to have by you, may be prepared; a supply of apples laid in, if you have a place to keep them, as also a few keeping pears and filberts. Endeavour to keep also a large vegetable marrow,—it will be found delicious in the winter.
In October and November, it will be necessary to prepare for the cold weather, and get ready the winter clothing for the various members of the family. The white summer curtains will now be carefully put away, the fireplaces, grates, and chimneys looked to, and the house put in a thorough state of repair, so that no “loose tile” may, at a future day, interfere with your comfort, and extract something considerable from your pocket.
In December, the principal household duty lies in preparing for the creature comforts of those near and dear to us, so as to meet old Christmas with a happy face, a contented mind, and a full larder; and in stoning the plums, washing the currants, cutting the citron, beating the eggs, and Mixing the Pudding, a housewife is not unworthily greeting the genial season of all good things.
62. “The Distribution of a Kitchen,” says Count Rumford, the celebrated philosopher and physician, who wrote so learnedly on all subjects connected with domestic economy and architecture, “must always depend so much on local circumstances, that general rules can hardly be given respecting it; the principles, however, on which this distribution ought, in all cases, to be made, are simple and easy to be understood,” and, in his estimation, these resolve themselves into symmetry of proportion in the building and convenience to the cook. The requisites of a good kitchen, however, demand something more special than is here pointed out. It must be remembered that it is the great laboratory of every household, and that much of the “weal or woe,” as far as regards bodily health, depends upon the nature of the preparations concocted within its walls. A good kitchen, therefore, should be erected with a view to the following particulars. 1. Convenience of distribution in its parts, with largeness of dimension. 2. Excellence of light, height of ceiling, and good ventilation. 3. Easiness of access, without passing through the house. 4. Sufficiently remote from the principal apartments of the house, that the members, visitors, or guests of the family, may not perceive the odour incident to cooking, or hear the noise of culinary operations. 5. Plenty of fuel and water, which, with the scullery, pantry, and storeroom, should be so near it, as to offer the smallest possible trouble in reaching them.
The kitchens of the Middle Ages, in England, are said to have been constructed after the fashion of those of the Romans. They were generally octagonal, with several fireplaces, but no chimneys; neither was there any wood admitted into the building. The accompanying cut, fig. 1, represents the turret which was erected on the top of the conical roof of the kitchen at Glastonbury Abbey, and which was perforated with holes to allow the smoke of the fire, as well as the steam from cooking, to escape. Some kitchens had funnels or vents below the eaves to let out the steam, which was sometimes considerable, as the Anglo-Saxons used their meat chiefly in a boiled state. From this circumstance, some of their large kitchens had four ranges, comprising a boiling-place for small boiled meats, and a boiling-house for the great boiler. In private houses the culinary arrangements were no doubt different; for DuCange mentions a little kitchen with a chamber, even in a solarium, or upper floor.
63. The Simplicity of the Primitive Ages has frequently been an object of poetical admiration, and it delights the imagination to picture men living upon such fruits as spring spontaneously from the earth, and desiring no other beverages to slake their thirst, but such as fountains and rivers supply. Thus we are told, that the ancient inhabitants of Argos lived principally on pears; that the Arcadians revelled in acorns, and the Athenians in figs. This, of course, was in the golden age, before ploughing began, and when mankind enjoyed all kinds of plenty without having to earn their bread “by the sweat of their brow.” This delightful period, however, could not last for ever, and the earth became barren, and continued unfruitful till Ceres came and taught the art of sowing, with several other useful inventions. The first whom she taught to till the ground was Triptolemus, who communicated his instructions to his countrymen the Athenians. Thence the art was carried into Achaia, and thence into Arcadia. Barley was the first grain that was used, and the invention of bread-making is ascribed to Pan.
The use of fire, as an instrument of cookery, must have been coeval with this invention of bread, which, being the most necessary of all kinds of food, was frequently used in a sense so comprehensive as to include both meat and drink. It was, by the Greeks, baked under the ashes.
64. In the Primary Ages it was deemed unlawful to eat flesh, and when mankind began to depart from their primitive habits, the flesh of swine was the first that was eaten. For several ages, it was pronounced unlawful to slaughter oxen, from an estimate of their great value in assisting men to cultivate the ground; nor was it usual to kill young animals, from a sentiment which considered it cruel to take away the life of those that had scarcely tasted the joys of existence.
At this period no cooks were kept, and we know from Homer that his ancient heroes prepared and dressed their victuals with their own hands. Ulysses, for example, we are told, like a modern charwoman, excelled at lighting a fire, whilst Achilles was an adept at turning a spit. Subsequently, heralds, employed in civil and military affairs, filled the office of cooks, and managed marriage feasts; but this, no doubt, was after mankind had advanced in the art of living, a step further than roasting, which, in all places, was the ancient manner of dressing meat.
65. The Age of Roasting we may consider as that in which the use of the metals would be introduced as adjuncts to the culinary art; and amongst these, iron, the most useful of them all, would necessarily take a prominent place. This metal is easily oxidized, but to bring it to a state of fusibility, it requires a most intense heat. Of all the metals, it is the widest diffused and most abundant; and few stones or mineral bodies are without an admixture of it. It possesses the valuable property of being welded by hammering; and hence its adaptation to the numerous purposes of civilized life.
Metallic grains of iron have been found in strawberries, and a twelfth of the weight of the wood of dried oak is said to consist of this metal. Blood owes its colour of redness to the quantity of iron it contains, and rain and snow are seldom perfectly free from it. In the arts it is employed in three states,—as cast iron, wrought iron, and steel. In each of these it largely enters into the domestic economy, and stoves, grates, and the general implements of cookery, are usually composed of it. In antiquity, its 27 employment was, comparatively speaking, equally universal. The excavations made at Pompeii have proved this. The accompanying cuts present us with specimens of stoves, both ancient and modern. Fig. 2 is the remains of a kitchen stove found in the house of Pansa, at Pompeii, and would seem, in its perfect state, not to have been materially different from such as are in use at the present day. Fig. 3 is a self-acting, simple open range in modern use, and may be had of two qualities, ranging, according to their dimensions, from £3. 10s. and £3. 18s. respectively, up to £4. 10s. and £7. 5s. They are completely fitted up with oven, boiler, sliding cheek, wrought-iron bars, revolving shelves, and brass tap. Fig. 4 is called the Improved Leamington Kitchener, and is said to surpass any other range in use, for easy cooking by one fire. It has a hot plate, which is well calculated for an ironing-stove, and on which as many vessels as will stand upon it, may be kept boiling, without being either soiled or injured. Besides, it has a perfectly ventilated and spacious wrought-iron roaster, with movable shelves, draw-out stand, double dripping-pan, and meat-stand. The roaster can be converted into an oven by closing the valves, when bread and pastry can be baked in it in a superior manner. It also has a large iron boiler with brass tap and steam-pipe, round and square gridirons for chops and steaks, ash-pan, open fire for roasting, and a set of ornamental covings with plate-warmer attached. It took a first-class prize and medal in the Great Exhibition of 1851, and was also exhibited, with all the recent improvements, at the Dublin Exhibition in 1853. Fig. 5 is another kitchener, adapted for large families. It has on the one side, a large ventilated oven; and on the other, the fire and roaster. The hot plate is over all, and there is a back boiler, made of wrought iron, with brass tap and steam-pipe. In other respects it resembles Fig. 4, with which it possesses similar advantages of construction. Either may be had at varying prices, according to size, from £5. 15s. up to £23. 10s. They are supplied by Messrs. Richard & John Slack, 336, Strand, London.
66. From Kitchen Ranges to the implements used in cookery is but a step. With these, every kitchen should be well supplied, otherwise the cook must not be expected to “perform her office” in a satisfactory manner. Of the culinary utensils of the ancients, our knowledge is very limited; but as the art of living, in every civilized country, is pretty much the same, the instruments for cooking must, in a great degree, bear a striking resemblance to each other. 28 On referring to classical antiquities, we find mentioned, among household utensils, leather bags, baskets constructed of twigs, reeds, and rushes; boxes, basins, and bellows; bread-moulds, brooms, and brushes; caldrons, colanders, cisterns, and chafing-dishes; cheese-rasps, knives, and ovens of the Dutch kind; funnels and frying-pans; handmills, soup-ladles, milk-pails, and oil-jars; presses, scales, and sieves; spits of different sizes, but some of them large enough to roast an ox; spoons, fire-tongs, trays, trenchers, and drinking-vessels; with others for carrying food, preserving milk, and holding cheese. This enumeration, if it does nothing else, will, to some extent, indicate the state of the simpler kinds of mechanical arts among the ancients.
In so far as regards the shape and construction of many of the kitchen utensils enumerated above, they bore a great resemblance to our own. This will be seen by the accompanying cuts. Fig. 6 is an ancient stock-pot in bronze, which seems to have been made to hang over the fire, and was found in the buried city of Pompeii. Fig. 7 is one of modern make, and may be obtained either of copper or wrought iron, tinned inside. Fig. 8 is another of antiquity, with a large ladle and colander, with holes attached. It is taken from the column of Trajan. The modern ones can be obtained at all prices, according to size, from 13s. 6d. up to £1. 1s.
67. In the Manufacture of these Utensils, bronze metal seems to have been much in favour with the ancients. It was chosen not only for their domestic vessels, but it was also much used for their public sculptures and medals. It is a compound, composed of from six to twelve parts of tin to one hundred of copper. It gives its name to figures and all pieces of sculpture made of it. Brass was another favourite metal, which is composed of copper and zinc. It is more fusible than copper, and not so apt to tarnish. In a pure state it is not malleable, unless when hot, and after it has been melted twice it will not bear the hammer. To render it capable of being wrought, it requires 7 lb. of lead to be put to 1 cwt. of its own material.
The Corinthian brass of antiquity was a mixture of silver, gold, and copper. A fine kind of brass, supposed to be made by the cementation of copper plates with calamine, is, in Germany, hammered out into leaves, and is called Dutch metal in this country. It is employed in the same way as gold leaf. Brass is much used for watchworks, as well as for wire.
68. The braziers, ladles, stewpans, saucepans, gridirons, and colanders of antiquity might generally pass for those of the English manufacture of the present day, in so far as shape is concerned. In proof of this we have placed together the following similar articles of ancient and modern pattern, in order 29 that the reader may, at a single view, see wherein any difference that is between them, consists.
Figs. 9 and 10 are flat sauce or sauté pans, the ancient one being fluted in the handle, and having at the end a ram’s head. Figs. 11 and 12 are colanders, the handle of the ancient one being adorned, in the original, with carved representations of a cornucopia, a satyr, a goat, pigs, and other animals. Any display of taste in the adornment of such utensils, might seem to be useless; but when we remember how much more natural it is for us all to be careful of the beautiful and costly, than of the plain and cheap, it may even become a question in the economy of a kitchen, whether it would not, in the long run, be cheaper to have articles which displayed some tasteful ingenuity in their manufacture, than such as are so perfectly plain as to have no attractions whatever beyond their mere suitableness to the purposes for which they are made. Figs. 13 and 14 are saucepans, the ancient one being of bronze, originally copied from the cabinet of M. l’Abbé Charlet, and engraved in the Antiquities of Montfaucon. Figs. 15 and 17 are gridirons, and 16 and 18 dripping-pans. In all these utensils the resemblance between such as were in use 2,000 years ago, and those in use at the present day, is strikingly manifest.
69. Some of the Ancient Utensils represented in the above cuts, are copied from those found amid the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii. These Roman cities were, in the first century, buried beneath the lava of an eruption of Vesuvius, and continued to be lost to the world till the beginning of the last century, when a peasant, in digging for a well, gradually discovered a small temple with some statues. Little notice, however, was taken of this circumstance till 1736, when the king of Naples, desiring to erect a palace at Portici, caused extensive excavations to be made, when the city of Herculaneum was slowly unfolded to view. Pompeii was discovered about 1750, and 30 being easier cleared from the lava in which it had so long been entombed, disclosed itself as it existed immediately before the catastrophe which overwhelmed it, nearly two thousand years ago. It presented, to the modern world, the perfect picture of the form and structure of an ancient Roman city. The interior of its habitations, shops, baths, theatres, and temples, were all disclosed, with many of the implements used by the workmen in their various trades, and the materials on which they were employed, when the doomed city was covered with the lavian stream.
70. Amongst the most essential Requirements of the kitchen are scales or weighing-machines for family use. These are found to have existed among the ancients, and must, at a very early age, have been both publicly and privately employed for the regulation of quantities. The modern English weights were adjusted by the 27th chapter of Magna Charta, or the great charter forced, by the barons, from King John at Runnymede, in Surrey. Therein it is declared that the weights, all over England, shall be the same, although for different commodities there were two different kinds, Troy and Avoirdupois. The origin of both is taken from a grain of wheat gathered in the middle of an ear. The standard of measures was originally kept at Winchester, and by a law of King Edgar was ordained to be observed throughout the kingdom.
Fig. 19 is an ancient pair of common scales, with two basins and a movable weight, which is made in the form of a head, covered with the pileus, because Mercury had the weights and measures under his superintendence. It is engraved on a stone in the gallery of Florence. Fig. 20 represents a modern weighing-machine, of great convenience, and generally in use in those establishments where a great deal of cooking is carried on.
71. Accompanying the Scales, or weighing-machines, there should be spice-boxes, and sugar and biscuit-canisters of either white or japanned tin. The covers of these should fit tightly, in order to exclude the air, and if necessary, be lettered in front, to distinguish them. The white metal of which they are usually composed, loses its colour when exposed to the air, but undergoes no further change. It enters largely into the composition of culinary utensils, many of them boing entirely composed of tinned sheet-iron; the inside of copper and iron vessels also, being usually what is called tinned. This art consists of covering any metal with a thin coating of tin; and it 31 requires the metal to be covered, to be perfectly clean and free from rust, and also that the tin, itself, be purely metallic, and entirely cleared from all ashes or refuse. Copper boilers, saucepans, and other kitchen utensils, are tinned after they are manufactured, by being first made hot and the tin rubbed on with resin. In this process, nothing ought to be used but pure grain-tin. Lead, however, is sometimes mixed with that metal, not only to make it lie more easily, but to adulterate it—a pernicious practice, which in every article connected with the cooking and preparation of food, cannot be too severely reprobated.—The following list, supplied by Messrs. Richard & John Slack, 336, Strand, will show the articles required for the kitchen of a family in the middle class of life, although it does not contain all the things that may be deemed necessary for some families, and may contain more than are required for others. As Messrs. Slack themselves, however, publish a useful illustrated catalogue, which may be had at their establishment gratis, and which it will be found advantageous to consult by those about to furnish, it supersedes the necessity of our enlarging that which we give:—
|1||Pair of Brass Candlesticks||3||6|
|1||Teapot and Tray||6||6|
|6||Knives and Porks||5||3|
|2||Sets of Skewers||1||0|
|1||Ditto and Steamer||6||6|
|1||Dripping-pan and Stand||6||6|
|1||Fish and Egg-slice||1||9|
|1||Pair of Bellows||2||0|
|The Set||£8 11||1|
72. As not only Health but Life may be said to depend on the cleanliness of culinary utensils, great attention must be paid to their condition generally, but more especially to that of the saucepans, stewpans, and boilers. Inside they should be kept perfectly clean, and where an open fire is used, the outside as clean as possible. With a Leamington range, saucepans, stewpans, &c., can be kept entirely free from smoke and soot on the outside, which is an immense saving of labour to the cook or scullery-maid. Care should be taken that the lids fit tight and close, so that soups or gravies may not be suffered to waste by evaporation. They should be made to keep the steam in and the smoke out, and should always be bright on the upper rim, where they do not immediately come in contact with the fire. Soup-pots and kettles should be washed immediately after being used, and dried before the fire, and they should be kept in a dry 32 place, in order that they may escape the deteriorating influence of rust, and, thereby, be destroyed. Copper utensils should never be used in the kitchen unless tinned, and the utmost care should be taken, not to let the tin be rubbed off. If by chance this should occur, have it replaced before the vessel is again brought into use. Neither soup nor gravy should, at any time, be suffered to remain in them longer than is absolutely necessary, as any fat or acid that is in them, may affect the metal, so as to impregnate with poison what is intended to be eaten. Stone and earthenware vessels should be provided for soups and gravies not intended for immediate use, and, also, plenty of common dishes for the larder, that the table-set may not be used for such purposes. It is the nature of vegetables soon to turn sour, when they are apt to corrode glazed red-ware, and even metals, and frequently, thereby, to become impregnated with poisonous particles. The vinegar also in pickles, by its acidity, does the same. Consideration, therefore, should be given to these facts, and great care also taken that all sieves, jelly-bags, and tapes for collared articles, be well scalded and kept dry, or they will impart an unpleasant flavour when next used. To all these directions the cook should pay great attention, nor should they, by any means, be neglected by the mistress of the household, who ought to remember that cleanliness in the kitchen gives health and happiness to home, whilst economy will immeasurably assist in preserving them.
73. Without Fuel, a Kitchen might be pronounced to be of little use; therefore, to discover and invent materials for supplying us with the means of domestic heat and comfort, has exercised the ingenuity of man. Those now known have been divided into five classes; the first comprehending the fluid inflammable bodies; the second, peat or turf; the third, charcoal of wood; the fourth, pit-coal charred; and the fifth, wood or pit-coal in a crude state, with the capacity of yielding a copious and bright flame. The first may be said seldom to be employed for the purposes of cookery; but peat, especially amongst rural populations, has, in all ages, been regarded as an excellent fuel. It is one of the most important productions of an alluvial soil, and belongs to the vegetable rather than the mineral kingdom. It may be described as composed of wet, spongy black earth, held together by decayed vegetables. Formerly it covered extensive tracts in England, but has greatly disappeared before the genius of agricultural improvement. Charcoal is a kind of artificial coal, used principally where a strong and clear fire is desired. It is a black, brittle, insoluble, inodorous, tasteless substance, and, when newly-made, possesses the remarkable property of absorbing certain quantities of the different gases. Its dust, when used as a polishing powder, gives great brilliancy to metals. It consists of wood half-burned, and is manufactured by cutting pieces of timber into nearly the same size, then disposing them in heaps, and covering them with earth, so as to prevent communication with the air, except when necessary to make them burn. When they have been sufficiently charred, the fire is extinguished by stopping the vents through which the air is admitted. Of coal there are various species; 33 D as, pit, culm, slate, cannel, Kilkenny, sulphurous, bovey, jet, &c. These have all their specific differences, and are employed for various purposes; but are all, more or less, used as fuel.
The use of coal for burning purposes was not known to the Romans. In Britain it was discovered about fifty years before the birth of Christ, in Lancashire, not far from where Manchester now stands; but for ages after its discovery, so long as forests abounded, wood continued to be the fuel used for firing. The first public notice of coal is in the reign of Henry III., who, in 1272, granted a charter to the town of Newcastle, permitting the inhabitants to dig for coal. It took some centuries more, however, to bring it into common use, as this did not take place till about the first quarter of the seventeenth century, in the time of Charles I. A few years after the Restoration, we find that about 200,000 chaldrons were consumed in London. Although several countries possess mines of coal, the quality of their mineral is, in general, greatly inferior to that of Great Britain, where it is found mostly in undulating districts abounding with valleys, and interspersed with plains of considerable extent. It lies usually between the strata of other substances, and rarely in an horizontal position, but with a dip or inclination to one side. Our cut, Fig. 21, represents a section of coal as it is found in the stratum.
74. To be acquainted with the Periods when things are in season, is one of the most essential pieces of knowledge which enter into the “Art of Cookery.” We have, therefore, compiled the following list, which will serve to show for every month in the year the
Fish.—Barbel, brill, carp, cod, crabs, crayfish, dace, eels, flounders, haddocks, herrings, lampreys, lobsters, mussels, oysters, perch, pike, plaice, prawns, shrimps, skate, smelts, soles, sprats, sturgeon, tench, thornback, turbot, whitings.
Meat.—Beef, house lamb, mutton, pork, veal, venison.
Poultry.—Capons, fowls, tame pigeons, pullets, rabbits, turkeys.
Game.—Grouse, hares, partridges, pheasants, snipe, wild-fowl, woodcock.
Vegetables.—Beetroot, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, celery, chervil, cresses, cucumbers (forced), endive, lettuces, parsnips, potatoes, savoys, spinach, turnips,—various herbs.
Fruit.—Apples, grapes, medlars, nuts, oranges, pears, walnuts, crystallized preserves (foreign), dried fruits, such as almonds and raisins; French and Spanish plums; prunes, figs, dates.
Fish.—Barbel, brill, carp, cod may be bought, but is not so good as in January, crabs, crayfish, dace, eels, flounders, haddocks, herrings, lampreys, lobsters, mussels, oysters, perch, pike, plaice, prawns, shrimps, skate, smelts, soles, sprats, sturgeon, tench, thornback, turbot, whiting.34
Meat.—Beef, house lamb, mutton, pork, veal.
Poultry.—Capons, chickens, ducklings, tame and wild pigeons, pullets with eggs, turkeys, wild-fowl, though now not in full season.
Game.—Grouse, hares, partridges, pheasants, snipes, woodcock.
Vegetables.—Beetroot, broccoli (purple and white), Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, celery, chervil, cresses, cucumbers (forced), endive, kidney-beans, lettuces, parsnips, potatoes, savoys, spinach, turnips,—various herbs.
Fruit.—Apples (golden and Dutch pippins), grapes, medlars, nuts, oranges, pears (Bon Chrétien), walnuts, dried fruits (foreign), such as almonds and raisins; French and Spanish plums; prunes, figs, dates, crystallized preserves.
Fish.—Barbel, brill, carp, crabs, crayfish, dace, eels, flounders, haddocks, herrings, lampreys, lobsters, mussels, oysters, perch, pike, plaice, prawns, shrimps, skate, smelts, soles, sprats, sturgeon, tench, thornback, turbot, whiting.
Meat.—Beef, house lamb, mutton, pork, veal.
Poultry.—Capons, chickens, ducklings, tame and wild pigeons, pullets with eggs, turkeys, wild-fowl, though now not in full season.
Game.—Grouse, hares, partridges, pheasants, snipes, woodcock.
Vegetables.—Beetroot, broccoli (purple and white), Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrots, celery, chervil, cresses, cucumbers (forced), endive, kidney-beans, lettuces, parsnips, potatoes, savoys, sea-kale, spinach, turnips,—various herbs.
Fruit.—Apples (golden and Dutch pippins), grapes, medlars, nuts, oranges, pears (Bon Chrétien), walnuts, dried fruits (foreign), such as almonds and raisins; French and Spanish plums; prunes, figs, dates, crystallized preserves.
Fish.—Brill, carp, cockles, crabs, dory, flounders, ling, lobsters, red and gray mullet, mussels, oysters, perch, prawns, salmon (but rather scarce and expensive), shad, shrimps, skate, smelts, soles, tench, turbot, whitings.
Meat.—Beef, lamb, mutton, veal.
Poultry.—Chickens, ducklings, fowls, leverets, pigeons, pullets, rabbits.
Vegetables.—Broccoli, celery, lettuces, young onions, parsnips, radishes, small salad, sea-kale, spinach, sprouts,—various herbs.
Fruit.—Apples, nuts, pears, forced cherries, &c. for tarts, rhubarb, dried fruits, crystallized preserves.
Fish.—Carp, chub, crabs, crayfish, dory, herrings, lobsters, mackerel, red and gray mullet, prawns, salmon, shad, smelts, soles, trout, turbot.
Meat.—Beef, lamb, mutton, veal.35
Poultry.—Chickens, ducklings, fowls, green geese, leverets, pullets, rabbits.
Vegetables.—Asparagus, beans, early cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, cresses, cucumbers, lettuces, pease, early potatoes, salads, sea-kale, various herbs.
Fruit.—Apples, green apricots, cherries, currants for tarts, gooseberries, melons, pears, rhubarb, strawberries.
Fish.—Carp, crayfish, herrings, lobsters, mackerel, mullet, pike, prawns, salmon, soles, tench, trout, turbot.
Meat.—Beef, lamb, mutton, veal, buck venison.
Poultry.—Chickens, ducklings, fowls, green geese, leverets, plovers, pullets, rabbits, turkey poults, wheatears.
Vegetables.—Artichokes, asparagus, beans, cabbages, carrots, cucumbers, lettuces, onions, parsnips, pease, potatoes, radishes, small salads, sea-kale, spinach,—various herbs.
Fruit.—Apricots, cherries, currants, gooseberries, melons, nectarines, peaches, pears, pineapples, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries.
Fish.—Carp, crayfish, dory, flounders, haddocks, herrings, lobsters, mackerel, mullet, pike, plaice, prawns, salmon, shrimps, soles, sturgeon, tench, thornback.
Meat.—Beef, lamb, mutton, veal, buck venison.
Poultry.—Chickens, ducklings, fowls, green geese, leverets, plovers, pullets, rabbits, turkey poults, wheatears, wild ducks (called flappers).
Vegetables.—Artichokes, asparagus, beans, cabbages, carrots, cauliflowers, celery, cresses, endive, lettuces, mushrooms, onions, pease, radishes, small salading, sea-kale, sprouts, turnips, vegetable marrow,—various herbs.
Fruit.—Apricots, cherries, currants, figs, gooseberries, melons, nectarines, pears, pineapples, plums, raspberries, strawberries, walnuts in high season, and pickled.
Fish.—Brill, carp, chub, crayfish, crabs, dory, eels, flounders, grigs, herrings, lobsters, mullet, pike, prawns, salmon, shrimps, skate, soles, sturgeon, thornback, trout, turbot.
Meat.—Beef, lamb, mutton, veal, buck venison.
Poultry.—Chickens, ducklings, fowls, green geese, pigeons, plovers, pullets, rabbits, turkey poults, wheatears, wild ducks.
Game.—Leverets, grouse, blackcock.
Vegetables.—Artichokes, asparagus, beans, carrots, cabbages, cauliflowers, celery, cresses, endive, lettuces, mushrooms, onions, pease, potatoes, radishes, 36 sea-kale, small salading, sprouts, turnips, various kitchen herbs, vegetable marrows.
Fruit.—Currants, figs, filberts, gooseberries, grapes, melons, mulberries, nectarines, peaches, pears, pineapples, plums, raspberries, walnuts.
Fish.—Brill, carp, cod, eels, flounders, lobsters, mullet, oysters, plaice, prawns, skate, soles, turbot, whiting, whitebait.
Meat.—Beef, lamb, mutton, pork, veal.
Poultry.—Chickens, ducks, fowls, geese, larks, pigeons, pullets, rabbits, teal, turkeys.
Game.—Blackcock, buck venison, grouse, hares, partridges, pheasants.
Vegetables.—Artichokes, asparagus, beans, cabbage sprouts, carrots, celery, lettuces, mushrooms, onions, pease, potatoes, salading, sea-kale, sprouts, tomatoes, turnips, vegetable marrows,—various herbs.
Fruit.—Bullaces, damsons, figs, filberts, grapes, melons, morella-cherries, mulberries, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, quinces, walnuts.
Fish.—Barbel, brill, cod, crabs, eels, flounders, gudgeons, haddocks, lobsters, mullet, oysters, plaice, prawns, skate, soles, tench, turbot, whiting.
Meat.—Beef, mutton, pork, veal, venison.
Poultry.—Chickens, fowls, geese, larks, pigeons, pullets, rabbits, teal, turkeys, widgeons, wild ducks.
Game.—Blackcock, grouse, hares, partridges, pheasants, snipes, woodcocks, doe venison.
Vegetables.—Artichokes, beets, cabbages, cauliflowers, carrots, celery, lettuces, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, sprouts, tomatoes, turnips, vegetable marrows,—various herbs.
Fruit.—Apples, black and white bullaces, damsons, figs, filberts, grapes, pears, quinces, walnuts.
Fish.—Brill, carp, cod, crabs, eels, gudgeons, haddocks, oysters, pike, soles, tench, turbot, whiting.
Meat.—Beef, mutton, veal, doe venison.
Poultry.—Chickens, fowls, geese, larks, pigeons, pullets, rabbits, teal, turkeys, widgeons, wild duck.
Game.—Hares, partridges, pheasants, snipes, woodcocks.
Vegetables.—Beetroot, cabbages, carrots, celery, lettuces, late cucumbers, onions, potatoes, salading, spinach, sprouts,—various herbs.
Fruit.—Apples, bullaces, chestnuts, filberts, grapes, pears, walnuts.37
Fish.—Barbel, brill, carp, cod, crabs, eels, dace, gudgeons, haddocks, herrings, lobsters, oysters, perch, pike, shrimps, skate, sprats, soles, tench, thornback, turbot, whiting.
Meat.—Beef, house lamb, mutton, pork, venison.
Poultry.—Capons, chickens, fowls, geese, pigeons, pullets, rabbits, teal, turkeys, widgeons, wild ducks.
Game.—Hares, partridges, pheasants, snipes, woodcocks.
Vegetables.—Broccoli, cabbages, carrots, celery, leeks, onions, potatoes, parsnips, Scotch kale, turnips, winter spinach.
Fruit.—Apples, chestnuts, filberts, grapes, medlars, oranges, pears, walnuts, dried fruits, such as almonds and raisins, figs, dates, &c.,—crystallized preserves.
75. When Fuel and Food are procured, the next consideration is, how the latter may be best preserved, with a view to its being suitably dressed. More waste is often occasioned by the want of judgment, or of necessary care in this particular, than by any other cause. In the absence of proper places for keeping provisions, a hanging safe, suspended in an any situation, is the best substitute. A well-ventilated larder, dry and shady, is better for meat and poultry, which require to be kept for some time; and the utmost skill in the culinary art will not compensate for the want of proper attention to this particular. Though it is advisable that animal food should be hung up in the open air till its fibres have lost some degree of their toughness, yet, if it is kept till it loses its natural sweetness, its flavour has become deteriorated, and, as a wholesome comestible, it has lost many of its qualities conducive to health. As soon, therefore, as the slightest trace of putrescence is detected, it has reached its highest degree of tenderness, and should be dressed immediately. During the sultry summer months, it is difficult to procure meat that is not either tough or tainted. It should, therefore, be well examined when it comes in, and if flies have touched it, the part must be cut off, and the remainder well washed. In very cold weather, meat and vegetables touched by the frost, should be brought into the kitchen early in the morning, and soaked in cold water. In loins of meat, the long pipe that runs by the bone should be taken out, as it is apt to taint; as also the kernels of beef. Rumps and edgebones of beef, when bruised, should not be purchased. All these things ought to enter into the consideration of every household manager, and great care should be taken that nothing is thrown away, or suffered to be wasted in the kitchen, which might, by proper management, be turned to a good account. The shank-bones of mutton, so little esteemed in general, give richness to soups or gravies, if well soaked and brushed before they are added to the boiling. They are also particularly nourishing for sick persons. Roast-beef bones, or shank-bones of ham, make excellent stock for pea-soup.—When the whites of eggs are used for jelly, confectionary, or other 38 purposes, a pudding or a custard should be made, that the yolks may be used. All things likely to be wanted should be in readiness: sugars of different sorts; currants washed, picked, and perfectly dry; spices pounded, and kept in very small bottles closely corked, or in canisters, as we have already directed (72). Not more of these should be purchased at a time than are likely to be used in the course of a month. Much waste is always prevented by keeping every article in the place best suited to it. Vegetables keep best on a stone floor, if the air be excluded; meat, in a cold dry place; as also salt, sugar, sweetmeats, candles, dried meats, and hams. Rice, and all sorts of seed for puddings, should be closely covered to preserve them from insects; but even this will not prevent them from being affected by these destroyers, if they are long and carelessly kept.
76. As in the Fine Arts, the progress of mankind from barbarism to civilization is marked by a gradual succession of triumphs over the rude materialities of nature, so in the art of cookery is the progress gradual from the earliest and simplest modes, to those of the most complicated and refined. Plain or rudely-carved stones, tumuli, or mounds of earth, are the monuments by which barbarous tribes denote the events of their history, to be succeeded, only in the long course of a series of ages, by beautifully-proportioned columns, gracefully-sculptured statues, triumphal arches, coins, medals, and the higher efforts of the pencil and the pen, as man advances by culture and observation to the perfection of his faculties. So is it with the art of cookery. Man, in his primitive state, lives upon roots and the fruits of the earth, until, by degrees, he is driven to seek for new means, by which his wants may be supplied and enlarged. He then becomes a hunter and a fisher. As his species increases, greater necessities come upon him, when he gradually abandons the roving life of the savage for the more stationary pursuits of the herdsman. These beget still more settled habits, when he begins the practice of agriculture, forms ideas of the rights of property, and has his own, both defined and secured. The forest, the stream, and the sea are now no longer his only resources for food. He sows and he reaps, pastures and breeds cattle, lives on the cultivated produce of his fields, and revels in the luxuries of the dairy; raises flocks for clothing, and assumes, to all intents and purposes, the habits of permanent life and the comfortable condition of a farmer. This is the fourth stage of social progress, up to which the useful or mechanical arts have been incidentally developing themselves, when trade and commerce begin. Through these various phases, only to live has been the great object of mankind; but, by-and-by, comforts are multiplied, and accumulating riches create new wants. The object, then, is not only to live, but to live economically, agreeably, tastefully, and well. Accordingly, the art of cookery commences; and although the fruits of the earth, the fowls of the air, the beasts of the field, and the fish of the sea, are still the only food of mankind, yet those are so prepared, improved, and dressed by skill and ingenuity, that they are the means of immeasurably extending the boundaries of human enjoyments. Everything that is edible, and passes under the hands of the cook, is more or less changed, and assumes new forms. Hence the influence of that functionary is immense upon the happiness of a household.
77. In order that the duties of the Cook may be properly performed, and that he may be able to reproduce esteemed dishes with certainty, all 40 terms of indecision should be banished from his art. Accordingly, what is known only to him, will, in these pages, be made known to others. In them all those indecisive terms expressed by a bit of this, some of that, a small piece of that, and a handful of the other, shall never be made use of, but all quantities be precisely and explicitly stated. With a desire, also, that all ignorance on this most essential part of the culinary art should disappear, and that a uniform system Of weights and measures should be adopted, we give an account of the weights which answer to certain measures.
A Table-spoonful is frequently mentioned in a recipe, in the prescriptions of medical men, and also in medical, chemical, and gastronomical works. By it is generally meant and understood a measure or bulk equal to that which would be produced by half an ounce of water.
A Dessert-spoonful is the half of a table-spoonful; that is to say, by it is meant a measure or bulk equal to a quarter of an ounce of water.
A Tea-spoonful is equal in quantity to a drachm of water.
A Drop.—This is the name of a vague kind of measure, and is so called on account of the liquid being dropped from the mouth of a bottle. Its quantity, however, will vary, either from the consistency of the liquid or the size and shape of the mouth of the bottle. The College of Physicians determined the quantity of a drop to be one grain, 60 drops making one fluid drachm. Their drop, or sixtieth part of a fluid drachm, is called a minim.
Graduated glass measures can be obtained at any chemist’s, and they save much trouble. One of these, containing a wine pint, is divided into 16 oz., and the oz. into 8 drachms of water; by which any certain weight mentioned in a recipe can be accurately measured out. Home-made measures of this kind can readily be formed by weighing the water contained in any given measure, and marking on any tall glass the space it occupies. This mark can easily be made with a file. It will be interesting to many readers to know the basis on which the French found their system of weights and measures, for it certainly possesses the grandeur of simplicity. The mètre, which is the basis of the whole system of French weights and measures, is the exact measurement of one forty-millionth part of a meridian of the earth.
78. Excellence in the Art of Cookery, as in all other things, is only attainable by practice and experience. In proportion, therefore, to the opportunities which a cook has had of these, so will be his excellence in the art. It is in the large establishments of princes, noblemen, and very affluent families alone, that the man cook is found in this country. He, also, superintends the kitchens of large hotels, clubs, and public institutions, where he, usually, makes out the bills of fare, which are generally submitted to the principal for approval. To be able to do this, therefore, it is absolutely necessary that he should be a judge of the season of every dish, as well as know perfectly the state of every article he undertakes to prepare. He must also be a judge of every article he buys; for no skill, however great it may be, will enable him to make that good which is really bad. On him rests the responsibility of the cooking generally, whilst a speciality of his department, is to prepare the rich soups, stews, ragouts, and such dishes as enter into the more refined and 41 complicated portions of his art, and such as are not usually understood by ordinary professors. He, therefore, holds a high position in a household, being inferior in rank, as already shown (21), only to the house steward, the valet, and the butler.
In the luxurious ages of Grecian antiquity, Sicilian cooks were the most esteemed, and received high rewards for their services. Among them, one called Trimalcio was such an adept in his art, that he could impart to common fish both the form and flavour of the most esteemed of the piscatory tribes. A chief cook in the palmy days of Roman voluptuousness had about £800 a year, and Antony rewarded the one that cooked the supper which pleased Cleopatra, with the present of a city. With the fall of the empire, the culinary art sank into less consideration. In the middle ages, cooks laboured to acquire a reputation for their sauces, which they composed of strange combinations, for the sake of novelty, as well as singularity.
79. The Duties of the Cook, the Kitchen and the Scullery Maids, are so intimately associated, that they can hardly be treated of separately. The cook, however, is at the head of the kitchen; and in proportion to her possession of the qualities of cleanliness, neatness, order, regularity, and celerity of action, so will her influence appear in the conduct of those who are under her; as it is upon her that the whole responsibility of the business of the kitchen rests, whilst the others must lend her, both a ready and a willing assistance, and be especially tidy in their appearance, and active in their movements.
In the larger establishments of the middle ages, cooks, with the authority of feudal chiefs, gave their orders from a high chair in which they ensconced themselves, and commanded a view of all that was going on throughout their several domains. Each held a long wooden spoon, with which he tasted, without leaving his seat, the various comestibles that were cooking on the stoves, and which he frequently used as a rod of punishment on the backs of those whose idleness and gluttony too largely predominated over their diligence and temperance.
80. If, as we have said (3), the Quality of Early Rising be of the first importance to the mistress, what must it be to the servant! Let it, therefore, be taken as a long-proved truism, that without it, in every domestic, the effect of all things else, so far as work is concerned, may, in a great measure, be neutralized. In a cook, this quality is most essential; for an hour lost in the morning, will keep her toiling, absolutely toiling, all day, to overtake that which might otherwise have been achieved with ease. In large establishments, six is a good hour to rise in the summer, and seven in the winter.
81. Her First Duty, in large establishments and where it is requisite, should be to set her dough for the breakfast rolls, provided this has not been done on the previous night, and then to engage herself with those numerous little preliminary occupations which may not inappropriately be termed laying out her duties for the day. This will bring in the breakfast hour of eight, after which, directions must be given, and preparations made, for the different dinners of the household and family.
82. In those numerous households where a cook and housemaid are only kept, the general custom is, that the cook should have the charge of the 42 dining-room. The hall, the lamps and the doorstep are also committed to her care, and any other work there may be on the outside of the house. In establishments of this kind, the cook will, after having lighted her kitchen fire, carefully brushed the range, and cleaned the hearth, proceed to prepare for breakfast. She will thoroughly rinse the kettle, and, filling it with fresh water, will put it on the fire to boil. She will then go to the breakfast-room, or parlour, and there make all things ready for the breakfast of the family. Her attention will next be directed to the hall, which she will sweep and wipe; the kitchen stairs, if there be any, will now be swept; and the hall mats, which have been removed and shaken, will be again put in their places.
The cleaning of the kitchen, pantry, passages, and kitchen stairs must always be over before breakfast, so that it may not interfere with the other business of the day. Everything should be ready, and the whole house should wear a comfortable aspect when the heads of the house and members of the family make their appearance. Nothing, it may be depended on, will so please the mistress of an establishment, as to notice that, although she has not been present to see that the work was done, attention to smaller matters has been carefully paid, with a view to giving her satisfaction and increasing her comfort.
83. By the time that the Cook has performed the duties mentioned above, and well swept, brushed, and dusted her kitchen, the breakfast-bell will most likely summon her to the parlour, to “bring in” the breakfast. It is the cook’s department, generally, in the smaller establishments, to wait at breakfast, as the housemaid, by this time, has gone up-stairs into the bedrooms, and has there applied herself to her various duties. The cook usually answers the bells and single knocks at the door in the early part of the morning, as the tradesmen, with whom it is her more special business to speak, call at these hours.
84. It is in her Preparation of the Dinner that the cook begins to feel the weight and responsibility of her situation, as she must take upon herself all the dressing and the serving of the principal dishes, which her skill and ingenuity have mostly prepared. Whilst these, however, are cooking, she must be busy with her pastry, soups, gravies, ragouts, &c. Stock, or what the French call consommé, being the basis of most made dishes, must be always at hand, in conjunction with her sweet herbs and spices for seasoning. “A place for everything, and everything in its place,” must be her rule, in order that time may not be wasted in looking for things when they are wanted, and in order that the whole apparatus of cooking may move with the regularity and precision of a well-adjusted machine;—all must go on simultaneously. The vegetables and sauces must be ready with the dishes they are to accompany, and in order that they may be suitable, the smallest oversight must not be made in their preparation. When the dinner-hour has arrived, it is the duty of the cook to dish-up such dishes as may, without injury, stand, for some time, covered on the hot plate or in the hot closet; but such as are of a more important or recherché kind, must be delayed until the order “to serve” is given from the drawing-room. Then comes 43 haste; but there must be no hurry,—all must work with order. The cook takes charge of the fish, soups, and poultry; and the kitchen-maid of the vegetables, sauces, and gravies. These she puts into their appropriate dishes, whilst the scullery-maid waits on and assists the cook. Everything must be timed so as to prevent its getting cold, whilst great care should be taken, that, between the first and second courses, no more time is allowed to elapse than is necessary, for fear that the company in the dining-room lose all relish for what has yet to come of the dinner. When the dinner has been served, the most important feature in the daily life of the cook is at an end. She must, however, now begin to look to the contents of her larder, taking care to keep everything sweet and clean, so that no disagreeable smells may arise from the gravies, milk, or meat that may be there. These are the principal duties of a cook in a first-rate establishment.
In smaller establishments, the housekeeper often conducts the higher department of cooking (see 58, 59, 60), and the cook, with the assistance of a scullery-maid, performs some of the subordinate duties of the kitchen-maid.
When circumstances render it necessary, the cook engages to perform the whole of the work of the kitchen, and, in some places, a portion of the house-work also.
85. Whilst the Cook is engaged with her Morning Duties, the kitchen-maid is also occupied with hers. Her first duty, after the fire is lighted, is to sweep and clean the kitchen, and the various offices belonging to it. This she does every morning, besides cleaning the stone steps at the entrance of the house, the halls, the passages, and the stairs which lead to the kitchen. Her general duties, besides these, are to wash and scour all these places twice a week, with the tables, shelves, and cupboards. She has also to dress the nursery and servants’-hall dinners, to prepare all fish, poultry, and vegetables, trim meat joints and cutlets, and do all such duties as may be considered to enter into the cook’s department in a subordinate degree.
86. The Duties of the Scullery-maid are to assist the cook; to keep the scullery clean, and all the metallic as well as earthenware kitchen utensils.
The position of scullery-maid is not, of course, one of high rank, nor is the payment for her services large. But if she be fortunate enough to have over her a good kitchen-maid and clever cook, she may very soon learn to perform various little duties connected with cooking operations, which may be of considerable service in fitting her for a more responsible place. Now, it will be doubtless thought by the majority of our readers, that the fascinations connected with the position of the scullery-maid, are not so great as to induce many people to leave a comfortable home in order to work in a scullery. But we are acquainted with one instance in which the desire, on the part of a young girl, was so strong to become connected with the kitchen and cookery, that she absolutely left her parents, and engaged herself as a scullery-maid in a gentleman’s house. Here she showed herself so active and intelligent, that she very quickly rose to the rank of a kitchen-maid; and from this, so great was her gastronomical genius, she became, in a short space of time, one of the best women-cooks in England. After this, we think it must be allowed, that a cook, like a poet, nascitur, non fit.
87. Modern Cookery stands so greatly indebted to the gastronomic propensities of our French neighbours, that many of their terms are adopted and applied by English artists to the same as well as similar preparations of their own. A vocabulary of these is, therefore, indispensable in a work of this kind. Accordingly, the following will be found sufficiently complete for all ordinary purposes:—
Aspic.—A savoury jelly, used as an exterior moulding for cold game, poultry, fish, &c. This, being of a transparent nature, allows the bird which it covers to be seen through it. This may also be used for decorating or garnishing.
Assiette (plate).—Assiettes are the small entrées and hors-d’œuvres, the quantity of which does not exceed what a plate will hold. At dessert, fruits, cheese, chestnuts, biscuits, &c., if served upon a plate, are termed assiettes.—Assiette volante is a dish which a servant hands round to the guests, but is not placed upon the table. Small cheese soufflés and different dishes, which ought to be served very hot, are frequently made assiettes volantes.
Au-bleu.—Fish dressed in such a manner as to have a bluish appearance.
Bain-marie.—An open saucepan or kettle of nearly boiling water, in which a smaller vessel can be set for cooking and warming. This is very useful for keeping articles hot, without altering their quantity or quality. If you keep sauce, broth, or soup by the fireside, the soup reduces and becomes too strong, and the sauce thickens as well as reduces; but this is prevented by using the bain-marie, in which the water should be very hot, but not boiling.
Béchamel.—French white sauce, now frequently used in English cookery.
Blanch.—To whiten poultry, vegetables, fruit, &c., by plunging them into boiling water for a short time, and afterwards plunging them into cold water, there to remain until they are cold.
Blanquette.—A sort of fricassee.
Bouilli.—Beef or other meat boiled; but, generally speaking, boiled beef is understood by the term.
Bouillie.—A French dish resembling hasty-pudding.
Bouillon.—A thin broth or soup.
Braise.—To stew meat with fat bacon until it is tender, it having previously been blanched.
Braisière.—A saucepan having a lid with ledges, to put fire on the top.
Brider.—To pass a packthread through poultry, game, &c., to keep together their members.
Caramel (burnt sugar).—This is made with a piece of sugar, of the size of a nut, browned in the bottom of a saucepan; upon which a cupful of stock is 45 gradually poured, stirring all the time a glass of broth, little by little. It may be used with the feather of a quill, to colour meats, such as the upper part of fricandeaux; and to impart colour to sauces. Caramel made with water instead of stock may be used to colour compôtes and other entremets.
Casserole.—A crust of rice, which, after having been moulded into the form of a pie, is baked, and then filled with a fricassee of white meat or a purée of game.
Compote.—A stew, as of fruit or pigeons.
Consommé.—Rich stock, or gravy.
Croquette.—Ball of fried rice or potatoes.
Croutons.—Sippets of bread.
Daubière.—An oval stewpan, in which daubes are cooked; daubes being meat or fowl stewed in sauce.
Désosser.—To bone, or take out the bones from poultry, game, or fish. This is an operation requiring considerable experience.
Entrées.—Small side or corner dishes, served with the first course.
Entremets.—Small side or corner dishes, served with the second course.
Escalopes.—Collops; small, round, thin pieces of tender meat, or of fish, beaten with the handle of a strong knife to make them tender.
Flamber.—To singe fowl or game, after they have been picked.
Foncer.—To put in the bottom of a saucepan slices of ham, veal, or thin broad slices of bacon.
Galette.—A broad thin cake.
Gâteau.—A cake, correctly speaking; but used sometimes to denote a pudding and a kind of tart.
Glacer.—To glaze, or spread upon hot meats, or larded fowl, a thick and rich sauce or gravy, called glaze. This is laid on with a feather or brush, and in confectionary the term means to ice fruits and pastry with sugar, which glistens on hardening.
Hors-d’œuvres.—Small dishes, or assiettes volantes of sardines, anchovies, and other relishes of this kind, served to the guests during the first course. (See Assiettes volantes.)
Lit.—A bed or layer; articles in thin slices are placed in layers, other articles, or seasoning, being laid between them.
Maigre.—Broth, soup, or gravy, made without meat.
Matelote.—A rich fish-stew, which is generally composed of carp, eels, trout, or barbel. It is made with wine.
Mayonnaise.—Cold sauce, or salad dressing.
Menu.—The bill of fare.
Meringue.—A kind of icing, made of whites of eggs and sugar, well beaten.46
Miroton.—Larger slices of meat than collops; such as slices of beef for a vinaigrette, or ragout or stew of onions.
Mouiller.—To add water, broth, or other liquid, during the cooking.
Paner.—To cover over with very fine crumbs of bread, meats, or any other articles to be cooked on the gridiron, in the oven, or frying-pan.
Piquer.—To lard with strips of fat bacon, poultry, game, meat, &c. This should always be done according to the vein of the meat, so that in carving you slice the bacon across as well as the meat.
Poêlée.—Stock used instead of water for boiling turkeys, sweetbreads, fowls, and vegetables, to render them less insipid. This is rather an expensive preparation.
Purée.—Vegetables, or meat reduced to a very smooth pulp, which is afterwards mixed with enough liquid to make it of the consistency of very thick soup.
Ragout.—Stew or hash.
Rissoles.—Pastry, made of light puff-paste, and cut into various forms, and fried. They may be filled with fish, meat, or sweets.
Roux.—Brown and white; French thickening.
Salmi.—Ragout of game previously roasted.
Sauce Piquante.—A sharp sauce, in which somewhat of a vinegar flavour predominates.
Sauter.—To dress with sauce in a saucepan, repeatedly moving it about.
Tamis.—Tammy, a sort of open cloth or sieve through which to strain broth and sauces, so as to rid them of small bones, froth, &c.
Tourte.—Tart. Fruit pie.
Trousser.—To truss a bird; to put together the body and tie the wings and thighs, in order to round it for roasting or boiling, each being tied then with packthread, to keep it in the required form.
Vol-au-vent.—A rich crust of very fine puff-paste, which may be filled with various delicate ragouts or fricassees, of fish, flesh, or fowl. Fruit may also be inclosed in a vol-au-vent.
The first four four chapters had no clear-cut typographical errors, just a few ambiguities:
Chap. III, sec. 61. Winter curtains . . . furs and woollen cloths . . . . The former
“the former” refers to curtains, not furs
Chap. III, sec. 71. 1 Ditto and Steamer
[Does this mean a saucepan-plus-steamer combination, or is it an error for “Ditto [i.e. iron] steamer”? Incidentally, steaming will be mentioned only once when we get to the recipes; it was apparently a popular way to cook potatoes, but nothing else.]
Chap. IV, sec. 87. Entremets.
[It isn’t clear from this entry that entremets (with final -s) is both singular and plural.]
6. as Thomson sings
[This exact passage (four and a half lines) was widely anthologized, generally identified only as “Thomson”. Isabella Beeton herself may not have known (or cared) more than that. Unlike most James Thomson quotations, this one’s not from the book-length The Seasons, but from the slightly later “Liberty”, Part IV (Britain), lines 604ff.]
7. Addison, who was not deficient in a knowledge of mankind, observes
[Actually, he doesn’t, though Isabella Beeton was not the only person to assume that every word of The Spectator was written by Joseph Addison personally. These particular words were by Addison’s cousin, Eustace Budgell.]
9. the versified advice of Cowper
[“But conversation, choose what theme we may, / And chiefly when religion leads the way, / Should flow” et cetera. Really. There is an entire poem called “Conversation”. Not book-length, but several hundred lines.]
he that is a hearer in one place wishes to qualify himself to be a principal speaker in some inferior company
[Raise your hand if you think Dr. Johnson is saying that the original hearers are planning to repeat the story in a different gathering, with the assertion “this really happened to me”.]
12. The quaint Fuller
[Thomas Fuller’s Holy State, originally from 1642, was reprinted in 1831 to make it easier for 19th-century writers to swipe his words. I found Mrs. Beeton’ exact passage (from “the good wife” to the end of the paragraph) in an anthology first published in 1871; I’m inclined to think that the anthologist and Mrs. Beeton both cribbed their text from some earlier collection.]
13. The advice of Polonius to his son Laertes
[It is currently fashionable to say that Polonius was a fool and his advice nothing but a string of platitudes. In Mrs. Beeton’s time, it could still be read “straight”.]
14. True Charity, a plant divinely nursed
[Cowper again, with more versified advice. This one’s called—wait for it—“Charity”.]
21. Table of the Average Yearly Wages
[Among men servants, the Great Divide is whether they have to pay for their livery or not, while for women it’s whether they have to pay for the tea, sugar and beer they consume. It goes without saying that a male cook is paid more than a female cook, and a valet twice as much as a lady’s maid. (But where, under what circumstances, would a valet ever be expected to wear livery?) See also the Punch cartoon, below.]
The Nursemaid „ 8 to 12 „ 5 to 10
[This seems incorrect. Why would the nursemaid have a bigger deduction for Tea, Sugar and Beer than any of the other servants? Is she expected to feed the children at her own expense?]
27. After Luncheon, Morning
[For social purposes, “morning” means “before dinner”. If you dine in the evening, the whole day counts as morning.]
34. How sad it is to sit and pine
[I do not believe Isabella Beeton made this up herself. But I’m darned if I can find the source.]
35. not less than the number of the Graces, or more than that of the Muses
[Well, sure, if you’ve got a Roman-style triclinium, with three people per couch, using no more than three sides of the table. Miss Manners helpfully suggests that if you can’t get the Graces you might try the Fates, who are not asked out as much.]
44. The music, and the banquet, and the wine
[Byron, “Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice”, IV. 1]
I think this entire chapter is intended to let the reader fantasize or daydream. If your household actually had a housekeeper, you would already know this stuff.
63. The first whom she taught to till the ground was Triptolemus, who communicated his instructions to his countrymen the Athenians.
[Something tells me the ultimate source of this story is an Athenian writer. From here on, the Editress’s social history—whose immediate source I never did identify—diverges ever further from reality.]
65. the Improved Leamington Kitchener . . . is said to surpass any other range in use
[Thank you, Mrs. Beeton. You—which is to say your husband—will receive your cheque in due course.]
66. the art of living, in every civilized country, is pretty much the same
[Here as elsewhere, a civilized country is one in which the art of living is similar to that of England.]
70. the 27th chapter of Magna Charta . . . and by a law of King Edgar
[This makes it sound as if Isabella Beeton thinks King Edgar was later than King John. But it’s probably just sloppy editing.]
74 (October) Meat.—Beef, mutton, pork, veal, venison.
[Last month venison counted as Game, but now it has been hanging in the larder long enough to be called Meat.]
[I can understand about pork, like oysters, disappearing from the table during the summer months. But why can’t you kill a pig in November when it was fine to do so in October?]
77. the exact measurement of one forty-millionth part of a meridian
[This may explain why French cookbooks didn’t bother to give precise amounts. When your system of measurements comes down to “an amount of flour weighing half as much as a cubical volume of water measuring one four-hundred-millionth of a meridian in each dimension”, you may as well stick to pinches and handfuls.]
Sections 79-80, The Duties of the Cook, the Kitchen and the Scullery Maids, are adapted from Webster, pg. 336, secs. 1552-1553.
79. in proportion to her possession
[Having descended from the lofty realms of the male chef, we return to reality, where cooks are female.]
82. her care . . . her kitchen fire . . . . She will . . . . She will . . . . Her attention
[Only a female cook would have this range of duties; “man cooks” had an army of helpers. Here is cartoonist George du Maurier, in Punch 95 (27 October 1888), pg. 202, with the title “Primitive Arithmetic”:
New Mistress. “And what Wages do you expect?”
New Cook. “Well, Mum, it depends on the Style you live in. If I’m to do the Dining-room, Entrance ’all and Doorstep as well as the Cooking, like in a Middle Class ’ouse—Twenty Pounds a year. But if I’m to have a Kitchen-maid to ’elp, and nothing but the Cooking to attend to, like in a Gentleman’s ’ouse, I shall require Forty!”]
[Mrs. Beeton doesn’t seem to have been familiar with the double boiler, although Count Rumford is one of the people credited with inventing it.]
The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.