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Treat Mental Health by Reading Austen

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Treat Mental Health by Reading Austen

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The Mirror of Graces: the Final Blush of Accomplishment

A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word [accomplished]; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.”
Pride and Prejudice

When so much has been said of the body and its accoutrements, I cannot but subjoin a few words on the intelligence which animates the frame, and of the organ which imparts its meaning.

Connected speech is granted to mankind alone. Parrots may prate and monkeys chatter, but it is only to the reasonable being that power of combining ideas, expressing their import, and uttering, in audible sounds, all its various gradations, the language of sense and judgment, of love and resentment is awarded as a gift, that gives us a proud and undeniable superiority above all the rest of the creation.

To employ this faculty well and gracefully, is one grand object of education. The mere organ itself, as to sound, is like a musical instrument, to be modulated with elegance, or struck with the disorderly nerve of coarsene vulgarity.

I must add to what has been said before, the subject, that excessive rapidity of speaking is, in general, even with a clear enunciation, very disagreeable; but, when it is accompanied with a shrill voice, high in alt, the effect is then inexpressibly discordant and hideous. The first orator the heathen world knew, so far remedied the natural defects of his speech, (and they were the most embarrassing) as to become the most easy and persuasive of speakers. In like manner, when a young woman finds any difficulty or inelegance in her organs, she ought to pay the strictest attention to rectify the fault.

Should she have too quick or encumbered an articulation, she ought to read with extreme slowness, for several hours in the day, and even pay attention in speaking to check the rapidity or confusion of her utterance. By similar antidotal means, she must attack a propensity of talking in a high key. Better err in the opposite extreme, while she is prosecuting her cure, as the voice will gradually and imperceptibly attain its most harmonious pitch; than, by at first attempting the medium, most likely retain too much of the screaming key.

A clear articulation, a tempered intonation, and in a moderate key, are essentials in the voice of an accomplished female. For her graceful peculiarities, those nature and rare taste must bestow. Fine judgment and delicate sensibility are the best schoolmistresses on this subject. Indeed, where is it that, in relation to man or woman, we shall find, that an improved understanding, an enlightened mind, and a refined taste, are not the best polishers of manners, and in all aspects the most efficient handmaids of the Muses?

Let me then, in one short sentence, in one tender adieu, my fair readers and endeared friends! enforce upon your minds, that if Beauty be woman’s weapon, it must be feathered by the Graces, pointed by the eye of Discretion, and shot by the hand of Virtue!

Look then, my sweet pupils, not merely to your mirrors, when you would decorate yourselves for conquest, but consult the specluum, which will reflect your hearts and minds. Remember that it is the affections of a sensible and reasonable soul you hope to subdue, and seek for arms likely to carry the fortress.

He that is worthy, must love answering excellence. Which of you all would wish to marry a man merely for the colour of his eye, or the shape of his leg? Think not then worse of him than you would do of yourselves; and, hope not to satisfy his better wishes with the possession of a merely handsome wife.

Beauty of person will ever be found a dead letter, unless it be animated with beauty of mind. We must then, not only cultivate the shape, the complexion, the air, the attire, the manners; but most assiduously must our attention be devoted to teach “the young idea how
to shoot,” and to fashion the unfolding mind to judgment and virtue. By such culture, it will not be merely the charming girl, the captivating woman “We shall present to the world; but, the dutiful daughter, affectionate sister, tender wife, judicious mother, faithful friend, and amiable acquaintance.

Let these then be the fair images which will form themselves on the models drawn by my not inexperienced pen! Let me see Beauty, whose soul is Virtue, approach me with the chastened step of Modesty; and, ere she advances from behind the heavenly cloud that envelops her, I shall behold Love and all the Graces hovering in air to adorn and attend her charms!

This may be thy picture, lovely daughter of Albion! Make thyself then worthy of the likeness, and thou wilt fulfil the fondest wish of thine unknown friend.

From The Mirror of Graces, by a Lady of Distinction, 1811.


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Maxims for Health and Gracefulness

Cassandra Austen’s sketch of her niece Fanny.

In 1833, Lydia Marie Child published The Girl’s Own Book, a volume full of entertainments for girls of all ages.

She closed her book with a few maxims on child rearing involving both the moral and physical aspects of raising young ladies. Although they may sound quaint and dated, mothers of the Regency. Child rearing has always been considered a woman’s domain, and mothers of this era, with its burgeoning middle class, read countless books on subjects ranging from household management to cookery. Topics their mothers were either too busy or too idle to concern themselves with.

Any number of spoiled children can be found in the pages of Jane Austen’s works, from the heir to Norland Park, to Mrs. Musgrove’s rambunctious grandchildren. We never get to see the children of Austen’s heroines, but they would, no doubt, have been raised in this new era of motherly awareness.

Early rising, and the habit of washing frequently, in cold water, are fine things for the health and the complexion.Walking, and other out-of-door exercises, cannot I much recommended to young people. Even skating, driving hoop, and other boyish sports, may be practised to advantage by little girls, provided they can be pursued within the inclosure of a garden, or court ; in the street, they would of course, be highly improper. It is true, such games are rather violent, and sometimes noisy ; but they tend to form a vigorous constitution ; and girls who are habitually lady-like, will never allow themselves to be rude and vulgar, even in play.

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Advice to Young Females

“I could do very well without you, if you were married to a man of such good estate as Mr Crawford. And you must be aware, Fanny, that it is every young woman’s duty to accept such a very unexceptionable offer as this.”

This was almost the only rule of conduct, the only piece of advice, which Fanny had ever received from her aunt in the course of eight years and a half.

It silenced her.


Mansfield Park

Jane Austen never wrote a manual of ladylike advice- though her letters to her neices are full of an Aunt’s wisdom. If she had, it might have read something like this excerpt from a anonymous text of 1833. Of course, one can only imagine how much fun Jane, who could “not sit seriously down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save [her] life” would have had with it.

I begin my advice to young females on this subject, by suggesting a caution against forming this connection prematurely. I advise you, as you value your prospects of happiness for life, that you leave all matrimonial arrangements to a period subsequent to the completion of your education.


Another evil which you should avoid is that of forming this relation without due deliberation. Bear in mind that the decision which you form on this subject is to affect vitally your interests in life and at least that of one other individual.

Of great importance is the character of the man with whom you are to be united.

  1. Robert Ferrars
    Do not marry a fop. There is a mark upon him, an affected elegance of manner, a studied particularity of dress and usually a singular vanity of mind.
  2. Do not marry a miser. Such a man may be very rich, but you could expect from his riches little else than misery.
  3. Mr. Wickham
    Do not marry a spendthrift. For no degree of wealth can secure such a man from the degredation of poverty.
  4. Do not marry a man whose age is greatly disproportionate to your own. I am constrained to say that such connections present, at least to my own eye a violation of good taste, and seem contrary to the dictates of nature.
  5. Willoughby
    Do not marry a man who is not industrious. The effect is very apt to be, that he abuses his talents, and strancts a hanit of living to little purpose, but that of self gratification.
  6. Do not marry a man of violent temper. The absence of an affectionate and amiable disposition is sure to render, in no small degree, a delicate female unhappy.

William Collins: Pride and Prejudice
If a gentleman addresses you on the subject of marriage, it is proper that you make his proposal a subject of immediate consideration.

Mr. Darcy
If it be that you decline his proposals, inform him in a manner which will least wound his sensibility, and let the secret of his having addressed you never pass your lips.

If the result be that you accept his proposals, modestly and affectionately inform him of it, and consider yourself sacredly bound to become his wife.

Reprinted from The Daughter’s Own Book; or, Practical Hints From a Father to His Daughter.; Boston: Lilly, Wait, Colman, and Holden, 1833; Anonymous. Reprinted with kind permission from Old Sturbridge Village.

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On the Important Subject of Dress and Fashion

On the Important Subject of Dress and Fashion we cannot do better than quote an

opinion from the eighth volume of the “Englishwoman’s 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.”

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.

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.

Isabella Mary Beeton (née Mayson) (12 March 1836 – 6 February 1865),

universally known as Mrs Beeton, was the English author of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household

Management (1861), and is one of the most famous cookery writers. This article is

excerpted from that book. In the forward, Mrs. Beeton has this to say of her


I must frankly own, that if I had known, beforehand, that this book would have cost me the

labour which it has, I should never have been courageous enough to commence it. What moved

me, in the first instance, to attempt a work like this, was the discomfort and suffering

which I had seen brought upon men and women by household mismanagement. I have always thought

that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked

dinners and untidy ways.

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“Directions how to make a fire with Lehigh coal”

Coal definitely made a brighter, warmer, and less smoky fire than wood, and in Jane Austen’s day, had become a preferred source of heat. The Industrial Revolution, which began in the late 1700’s was fueled by coal and though it had been a prime energy source for centuries, the oldest continuously worked deep-mine, Tower Colliery, was opened in Wales, in 1805. Prior to that coal had been gathered “at the surface” or in private mining endeavors. The first commercial coal mines in the United States were started in 1748 in Midlothian, Virginia, near Richmond, Virginia.

The following excerpt from The House Servant’s Directory, was written by Robert Roberts in 1827. Mr. Roberts had been butler to the governor of Massachusetts in 1809 and drew upon his work in that great house, to offer this advice to his fellow laborers.

Directions how to make a fire with Lehigh coal

And now, Joseph and David, I must address a few ‘last words’ to you on the subject of making coal fires. Having put down all that need be said in respect to employers and servants in their conduct towards each other, I wish to add some very superior directions for making fires of what is anthracite coal, otherwise called Lehigh, Rhode Island, or any hard coal.

Very few servants at first understand the method of kindling and continuing a fire of Lehigh coal, many will never learn, and many more from erroneous instructions, whilst they think they understand is, make but a bungling piece of work of it. I had prepared some observations on this subject to be inserted among the directions and receipts, but have omitted them in order to give room to the following full account and directions, and as our book is intended to be useful to servants, it must be granted that a knowledge of how to make a Lehigh coal fire, when it is becoming so common in this country, is quite an acquisition.

I wish my fellow servants to read the rules very attentively. They are very humorous, but very true, and they lay down a plain and easy method for preparing and burning this kind of coal. These rules were first published in the ‘New York American’—and people thought them a burlesque upon the use of this kind of fuel, but experience has make them acknowledge that they are most excellent and true, and hundreds have enjoyed the comforts ofa hard coal fire made according to the writer’s directions.

Chapter One: Of Buying and Breaking*

  1. Buy from the vessel, if possible; for a chaldron there is more than at the yard. And remember that every seller of coal is a cheat.
  2. Stand by and see that large pieces only are put into the cart, for a cart of very large pieces, when broken up, makes a cart and a quarter of small ones.
  3. Refuse a load that appears to contain dust, because Lehigh dust is clear waste, and enough in all conscience is made when breaking.
  4. Break the coal before housing it, unless you would have to break it yourself at the risk of either eye.
  5. Do not be hoaxed out of a dollar for a hammer made expressly for the purpose of breaking Lehigh. The family axe is just as good.
  6. Do not take a man from the yard with his patent hammer, to break your coal for you, unless you would pay twice what the job is worth, and what a dozen, in less than five minutes after the coal is dumped will offer to do for you.
  7. In breaking, see that each piece is broken by itself on the pavement, and not as is usual, on the mass, unless you wish to burn half the coal as powder.
  8. Make the man who breaks, carry in as fast as he breaks, whereby much dust will be saved.
  9. Let the pieces into which it is broken be about as large as your fist, if your hand is rather a small one; otherwise about the size of your wife’s, provided her hand is something larger than common; or about the size of a half pint tumbler.
  10. Watch the fellow who breaks, or he will not break half small enough—or he will break it on the mass—or he will use a bushel as a missiles against the boys, cows or pigs—or he will take care to wet it all in the gutter before he takes it up.
  11. When the coal is in, proceed to the mystery of burning, which deserves a separate chapter. This subject, however, is better handled under the two heads, of kindling, and of replenishing and perpetuating.

Chapter Two: Of the Kindling

  1. This a great mystery, therefore proceed with caution and with a mind divested of all prejudice.
  2. Let the grate be perfectly cleared of all foreign substances, and begin the fire at the bottom.
  3. The best material for kindling is charcoal, unless perhaps dry hickory be preferred; the latter is much cheaper—not absolutely, however, that I know of, but it is relatively. For, in relation to the cook, it may be affirmed that half the charcoal which you buy for kindling will go into the kitchen fire to save trouble. The cheapest method is this: buy a load of dry hickory, stipulate that it shall be large, have it sawed three times—the wood will now be in junks which you may defy the cook to burn—split it up as fast as wanted and no faster. Some say that Liverpool is the cheapest kindler. It may be at six dollars a chaldron, but it is not at sixteen dollars; and they you must have wood to kindle the Liverpool.
  4. Having got the kindling, proceed to the grate. Throw into it first live coals from the kitchen, then lay on the charcoal or hickory, be not too sparing—then place loosely, and with the fingers, fair pieces of Schuylkill, Lehigh or Rhode Island of the orthodox size. I advise the use of the fingers, because the work is done quicker than with tongs, from which the smooth Schuylkill perpetually slips. Let the coal be piled as high as the grate will allow.
  5. If you are in a hurry, put up the blower; if not, do not use it, for the hard coal kindles better without forcing. The blower makes a quicker fire, but a worse one, for the outside of the coals is burned before the inside is even heated. When the blower is removed, the heat suddenly subsides; the coals (Lehigh, especially) are found encrusted with a white coating of hard ashes, which renders them almost incombustible, and the fire afterwards becomes very dull.
  6. If the process of kindling fails, begin all over again. Failure most frequently proceeds from stinginess with the materials of kindling. Better be prodigal of it than have the fire go out, and the grate all disemboweled a second time.
  7. The fire now being well kindled—but this is the subject of another chapter.
Chapter Three: Of Replenishing and Perpetuating

  1. The fire now being well under way, it will need to be fed but three times during the day and evening. The first replenishing should take place immediately after breakfast, when the family breaks up, the gentlemen retreating to the counting room, office or study, and the ladies to their dressing-rooms; the second about an hour before dinner; the third a little into the evening.
  2. If my readers are willing to be truly economical, let them replenish a fourth time, viz. at the going to bed—which I call the perpetuating process. Since, if it be done properly, the fire need be kindled but once for the whole winter, say, on the first day of November, and thus an immense amount of kindling may be saved.
  3. The method of perpetuating is extremely simple and consists merely in adding a few pieces of coal at 11 o’clock, say, and then cover the whole with cinders and ashes…till you have shoveled up as much as the grate can bear. In the morning all you have to do, is to clap on the blower, and presto, the fire before you is red hot. Following this plan, my parlor has always been comfortable at breakfast.
  4. Let not the ladies murmur: the grate can still be cleaned. When the servant first approaches the grate in the morning, everything is calm, quiet, slumbering and cool—you would hardly believe the fire to be there; and the brass can therefore be polished without the least hindrance. And not till that is done, should the blower be applied.

Chapter Four: Of the Poker

    1. A judicious use of the poker is essential to the well-being of an anthracite fire. This is the most delicate part of the science of coal burning, and the strictest attention should be given to it. So nice a matter is this,that I am almost ready to say, that I can form my opinion of a man’s intellect from his application of the poker as well as his pleading, preaching or physicking.
    2. An ignorant, meddlesome or nervous person you will often see thrusting in the poker at all adventures without rhyme or reason—as often as marring as making the fire. In a cold winter day particularly, the poker should always be kept out of their reach. They are unworthy of its honors.
    3. The legitimate office of the poker, in the case of a hard coal fire, is to clear away the ashes which accumulate on the lower bars and promote a free circulation of air. Not to quicken the blaze by breaking a large coal in pieces, or by changing the position of the pieces as in the fires of Liverpool.
    4. A fire should be poked when at its zenith—if you wait till it is much below that, your poking will only poke it out; the more you poke, the less it will burn.

  1. If the fire from having been too long neglected, appear to be in a doubtful state, hesitating between life and death—never touch a poker to it, it will be the death of it—never stir it—scarce look or breathe upon it, but with the step of a ghost clap on the blower, and if the vital spark be not wholly extinct, the air will find it out, and in a few moments blow it up to a generous heat—then gradually add fresh coal in small clean pieces, devoid of dust, and your fire is safe—Servants never learn this mystery, they always fly to the poker in every case of distress, and by their stupid use of it, double their own labor and vex the mistress of the house.
  2. This direction should be particularly observed in the morning, when a fire has been perpetuated. No coal should be added, nor the fire touched, till the blower has been up and done its work. It will often be found, especially in the case of Schuylkill coal, far preferable to Lehigh—that this alone will furnish sufficient heat for the breakfast hour; which is a demonstration that it is not waste, but a clear saving, to perpetuate the fire in the manner laid down.
  3. Many more niceties might be enumerated touching the poker; but I refrain and willingly leave something to the imagination of the reader. I would conclude, as preachers say, with only one practical remark—that you will never have a good anthracite fir, till you have broken your husband, a brother or wife of the mischievous habit of poking. It is surely an unseemly habit in itself, as well as injurious to the fire. It shows a too meddlesome, prying, insinuating disposition; and I can never help thinking, when I see one of this sort poking the coals, that he only wants the opportunity to thrust himself into my private affairs.

*This coal is sold by weight…and broken up at the yard, at an extra charge of fifty cents per ton.


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Advice to the Cook

The Cook must be quick and strong of sight: her hearing most acute, that she may be sensible to

when the contents of her vessels bubble, although they be closely covered, and that she may be

alarmed before the pot boils over; her auditory nerve ought to discriminate (when several

saucepans are in operation at the same time) the simmering of one, the ebullition of another, and

the full-toned warbling of a third.

It is imperiously requisite that her organ of smell be highly susceptible of the various

effluvia, that her nose may distinguish the perfection of aromatic ingredients, and that, in

animal substances it shall evince a suspicious accuracy between tenderness and putrefication:

above all, her olfactories should be tremblingly alive to mustiness and empyreuma.

It is from the exquisite sensibility of her palate, that we admire and judge the cook; from the

alliance between the olfactory and sapid organs it will be seen, that their perfections is


Good manners have often made the fortune of many, who have had nothing else to recommend them:

ill manners have as often marred the hopes of those who have had everything else to advance them.

Dinner tables are seldom sufficiently lighted, or attended; and active waiter will have enough to

do, to attend upon half a dozen good eaters: there should be half as many candles as there are

guests, and their flame be about eighteen inches above the table, our foolish modern candelabras

seem intended to illuminate the ceiling, rather than to give light on the plates, &c.

I am persuaded that no servant ever saved his master sixpence, but he found it in the end in his

own pocket.

A surgeon may well attempt to make an incision with a pair of sheers, or open a vein with an

oyster knife, as a cook pretend to dress a dinner without proper tools.

When the pot is coming to boil, there will always , form the cleanest meat and clearest water,

rise a scum to the top of it; proceeding partly from the foulness of the meat, and partly from

the water, this must be carefully taken off as soon as it rises; on this, depends the good

appearance of all boiled things. When you have scummed it well, put in some cold water, which

will throw up the rest of the scum. The oftener it is scummed, and the cleaner the top of the

water is kept, the cleaner will be the meat. If let alone, it soon boils down and sticks to the

meat; which, instead of looking delicately white and nice, will have that coarse and filthy

appearance we have too often to complain of, and the butcher and poulterer be blamed for the

carelessness of the cook in not scumming her pot.

In small families, we recommend block tin saucepans, &c as lightest, and safest; if proper care

is taken of them, and they are well dried after they are cleaned, they are by far the cheapest;

the purchase of a new tin saucepan being little more than the expense of tinning a copper one.

Let the young cook never forget, that cleanliness is the chief cardinal virtue of the kitchen;

the first preparation for roasting is to take care that the spit be properly cleaned with sand

and water, nothing else. When it has been well scoured with this, dry it with a clean cloth. If

spits are wiped clean, as soon as the meat is drawn from them, and while they are hot, a very

little cleaning will be required. The less the spit is passed through the meat the better, and

before you spit it, joint it properly, especially necks and loins, that the carver may separate

them easily and neatly., and take especial care it be evenly balanced on the spit, that its

motion may be regular, and the fire operate equally on each part of it.

A cook must be as particular to proportion her fire to the business she has to do, as a chemist;

the degree of heat most desirable for dressing the different sorts of food ought to be attended

to with the upmost precision.

A Good cook is anxiously attentive to the appearance and colour of her roasts, as a court beauty

is to her complexion at a birth-day ball.

Be very particular in frying, never to use any oil, butter, lard or drippings, but what is quite

clean, fresh, and free from salt. Any thing dirty spoils the look, anything bad tasted or stale

spoils the flavor, and salt prevents browning

There is nothing in which the difference between an elegant and ordinary table is more seen than

in the dressing of vegetables, more especially of greens; they may be equally fine at first, at

one place as at another; but their look and taste are afterwards very different entirely from the

careless way in which they have been cooked.

Unripe vegetables are as insipid and unwholesome as unripe fruits.

If you wish to have vegetables delicately clean, put on your pot, make it boil, out a little salt

in it, and skim it perfectly clean before you put in the greens, &c. which should not be put in

till the water boils briskly; the quicker they boil, the greener they will be; when the

vegetables sink, they are generally done enough, if the water has been constantly boiling. Take

them up immediately, or they will lose their colour and goodness. Drain the water from them

thoroughly before you send them to table. This branch of cookery requires the most vigilant


If vegetables are a minute or two too long over the fire, they lose all their beauty and flavor.

Made dishes are nothing more than meat, poultry or fish, stewed very gently till they are tender,

with a thickened sauce poured over them.

Be careful to trim off all the skin, gristle, &c. that will not be eaten, and shape handsomely

and of an even thickness, the various articles which compose your made dishes; this is sadly

neglected by common cooks; only stew them until they are just tender, and do not do them to rags.

Therefore, what you prepare the day before it is to be eaten, do not do quite enough the first


Woolen blankets or woolen clothes of any kind as well as furs, may be preserved from moths by

sprinkling a little spirits of turpentine upon them, in the drawers or boxes where they are

deposited during the summer. The scent of the turpentine on the woolens or furs is immediately

removed on their exposure to air. Sheets of paper moistened with spirits of turpentine above or

below the clothes, furs, &c. will have the effect of keeping off moths, but not so effectually as


When you open a bottle of catsup, essence of anchovy, &c. throw away the old cork, and stopit closely with anew cork that will fit very tight. Use only the best superfine velvet taper corks.Economy in corks is very unwise; in order to save a mere trifle, in the price of a cork, you run the risk of losing the valuable article it is intended to preserve. It is a vulgar error that a bottle must be well stopped, when the cork is forced down even with the mouth of it; this is a sure sign that the cork is too small, and it should be redrawn and a larger one put in.

The papering of a room, when soiled in spots as often happens, may be cleaned by a piece of brick loaf or biscuit, one or two days old. After gently rubbing til the bread is soiled, the soiled part of the bread should be chipped off, or a fresh piece taken; some caution is requisite not to injure the fabric of the paper-hanging, or the figures on it.

From The House Servant’s Directory or A Monitor for Private Families: comprising of hints on the arrangement and performance of servants’ work, with general rules for settings out tables and sideboards in first order; The art of waiting in all it’s branches, and likewise how to conduct large and small parties with order; with general directions for placing on table all kinds of joints, fish, fowl, &c. with Full instructions for cleaning Plate, Brass, Steel, Glass, Mahogany: and likewise all kinds of patent and common lamps: Observations on servants’ behaviour to their employers; and upwards of 100 various and useful receipts, chiefly compiled for the use of house servants, and identically made to suit the manners and customs of families in the United States By Robert Roberts. With Friendly advice to cooks and heads of families, and complete directions how to burn Lehigh coal. by Robert Roberts, Butler to The Honorable Christopher Gore, Governor of Massachusetts, 1809

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Advice to House Servants

Miscellaneous Observations, Compiled for the use of House Servants

Many well-meaning servants are ignorant of the best means of managing, and thereby waste as much as would maintain a small family, besides

causing the mistress of the house much chagrin by their irregularity: and many families, from a want of method, have the appearance of chance

rather than of regular system. To avoid this, the following hints may be useful as well as economical:–

Every article should be kept in that place best suited to it, as much waste may thereby be avoided, viz.

Vegetables will best keep on a stone floor; if the air be excluded.—Meat in a cold dry place.—Sugar and sweetmeats require a dry place; so does salt.—Candles cold, but not damp.—Dried meats, hams, &c. the same.—All sorts of seeds for puddings, saloop, rice, &c. should be close covered, to preserve from insects; but that will not prevent it, if long kept.

Bread is so heavy and article of expense, that all waste should be guarded against; and having it cut in the room will tend much to prevent it. It should not be cut until a day old. Earthen pans and covers keep it best.

Straw to lay apples on, should be quite dry, to prevent a musty taste.

Large pears should be tied up by the stalk.

Basil, savoury, or knotted marjoram, or thyme, to be used when herbs are ordered; but with discretion, as they are very pungent.

The best means to preserve blankets from moths is to fold and lay them under the feather-beds that are in use; and they should be shaken occasionally. When soiled, they should be washed, not scoured.

Soda, by softening water, saves a great deal of soap, It should be melted in a large jug of water, some of which pour into the tubs and boiler; and when the latter becomes weak, add more. The new improvement of soft soap is, if properly used, a saving of near half in quantity; and though sometimes dearer than the hard, reduces the price of washing considerably.

Many good laundresses advise soaping linen in warm water the night previous to washing, as facilitating the operation with less friction.

Soap should be cut with a wire or twine, in pieces that will make a long square when first brought in, and kept out of the air two or three weeks; for if it dry quick, it will crack, and when wet, break. Put it on a shelf, leaving a space between, and let it grow hard gradually. Thus, it will save a full third in consumption.

Some of the lemons and oranges used for juice should be pared first, to preserve the peel dry; some should be halved, and when squeezed, the pulp cut out, and the outsides dried for grati8ng. If for boiling in any liquid, the first way is best. When these fruits are cheap, a proper quantity should be bought and prepared as above directed, especially by those who live in the country, where they cannot always be had; and they are perpetually wanted in cookery.

When whites of eggs are used for jelly, or other purposed, contrive to have pudding, custard, &c, to employ the yolks also. Should you not want them for several hours, heat them up with a little water and put them in a cool place, or they will be hardened and useless. It was a mistake of old to think that the whites made cakes and puddings heavy; on the contrary, if beaten long and separately, they contribute a greatly to give lightness, are and advantage to paste, and make a pretty dish, beaten with fruit, to set in cream, &c.

If copper utensils be used in the kitchen, the cook should be charged to be very careful not to let the tin be rubbed off, and to have them fresh done when the least defect appears, and never to put any soup, gravy, &c. in them, or any metal utensil: stone and earthen vessels should be provided for those purposes, as likewise plenty of common dishes, that the table-set may not be used to put by cold meat.

Tin vessels, if kept damp, soon rust, which causes holes. Fenders, tin linings of flowerpots, &c. should be painted every year or two.

Vegetables soon sour, and corrode metals and glazed red ware, by which a strong poison is produced. Some years ago, the death of several gentlemen was occasioned at Salt Hill (London) by the cook sending out a ragout to the table which she had kept from the preceding day in a copper vessel badly tinned.

Vinegar, by its acidity, does the same, the glazing being of lead or arsenic.

To cool liquors in hot weather, dip a cloth in cold water, and wrap it round the bottle two or three times, then place it in the sun: renew the process once or twice.

The best way of scalding fruits, or boiling vinegar, is in a stone jar on a hot iron hearth; or by putting the vessel into a saucepan of water, called a water bath.

If chocolate, coffee, jelly, gruel, bark, &c. be suffered to boil over, the strength is lost.

The cook should be charged to take care of jelly-bags, tapes for the collared things, &c. which if not perfectly scalded, and kept dry, give an unpleasant flavor when next used.

Cold water, when thrown on cast-iron, when hot, will cause it to crack.

From The House Servant’s Directory or A Monitor for Private Families: comprising of hints on the arrangement and performance of servants’ work, with general rules for settings out tables and sideboards in first order; The art of waiting in all it’s branches, and likewise how to conduct large and small parties with order; with general directions for placing on table all kinds of joints, fish, fowl, &c. with Full instructions for cleaning Plate, Brass, Steel, Glass, Mahogany: and likewise all kinds of patent and common lamps: Observations on servants’ behaviour to their employers; and upwards of 100 various and useful receipts, chiefly compiled for the use of house servants, and identically made to suit the manners and customs of families in the United States By Robert Roberts. With Friendly advice to cooks and heads of families, and complete directions how to burn Lehigh coal. by Robert Roberts, Butler to The Honorable Christopher Gore, Governor of Massachusetts, 1809

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