Category Archives: Domestic Arrangements

Spoken Between the Courses: 1905

SPOKEN BETWEEN THE COURSES

Mr. Bounderby’s wife had not said a word to him since they sat down to dinner, except to remark that the weather was exceedingly warm. Casting a covert look at her across the fish he noticed two deep and ominous lines between her eyebrows.

“Brace up, Bounderby!” he said to himself, and forthwith swallowed a great goblet of wine without drawing breath.

“My dear,” he began, “You seem rather distrait this evening.”

“I—I am far from well, Archibald,” faintly. “The doctor”—

“Ah!” Bounderby drags his chair close to the table and assumes the attitude of a man about to catch a cannon ball in his bare hands. “Why, my dear, I think I never saw you looking so well before.”

“That Is because I have taken pains to conceal my sufferings. Doctor Borax assured me that I am falling rapidly, and nothing short of a trip to Switzerland would save me,” whisking a dainty bit of cambric across her eyes.

“Huh! He doesn’t consider my chances of failing when he gives such expensive prescriptions. Besides, you are the very picture of health.”

“That is the most dangerous sign of all. Nature’s last rally before the end. I feel it here! Here!” Clasping her bosom convulsively and staring at the ceiling.

“Well, now if it is us bad as that,” replies the unsympathetic brute, “I shouldn’t risk the journey. But apart from financial reasons there is another why you shouldn’t go.”

“How can there be any other?”

“Heh? Oh, to be sure! Why, business wouldn’t permit me to go with you, and as for straggling off alone in your feeble health”—

“Oh, I have arranged for all that. Dear mamma will accompany me.”

“Take the old ca — old lady with you? There’s double expense!”

“But what (tragically) does a paltry sum of money weigh against a life?”

“As you say (musingly), what does a paltry sum of money weigh against a life? I give it up.” He relapses into deep thought and then returns to the charge. “But think, Celestina, how people will talk if you spend the summer away from your husband.”‘

“And for idle gossip would you hold me here to perish at your feet?”

Bounderby, in a brown study, rouses at the last words.

“Perish? Feet? Whose feet? Certainly not! But, my love, are you not the least bit selfish? Of course I can deny you nothing, but a man needs woman’s companionship more in summer than any other time,” (He sighs deeply.) “It is then that love’s romance is renewed and the most holy sentiments of the soul awakened. Ah, me,” and bows his head on his breast.

His wife regards him curiously, even with some alarm.

“Since you are bent on going” — after a pause— “better this summer.”

“And why this summer more than another?” icily.

‘There is— er — a possibility I shall not have to spend the silvery evenings alone,” his coward eyes downcast.

“Archibald Bounderby,” nibbling nervously on her handkerchief, “I insist on your explaining your meaning.”

“Oh, it’s nothing that could interest you, my dear. Fact is an old friend of ours has asked me to look her up a house in the neighborhood. It will comfort you when in foreign climes to think that I have a pleasant place to spend the evenings. Won’t it, darling?”

“And might I ask who this person is?” twisting her handkerchief to shreds and displaying ill-concealed emotion.

“Why, certainly, my dear. Of course, you have not forgotten— the former Miss Gabster— she’s a widow now.”

“You mean the creature with dyed hair that angled so shamelessly for you before we were married?” her voice rising shrilly.

Bounderby swallows a chuckle mid shakes hands with himself effusively under the protection of the table. “I certainly knew the lady very well before marriage, but what of that? It will make it all the easier to renew the acquaintance.” The craven Bounderby dares not raise his shameful head, and an ominous silence follows. A servant enters with the next course, removes the remains of the fish and himself.

“Well, my dear, and what are you thinking about?” he asks. She seems to be writing on the table with a fork. Then she gulps hard, as if a croquet ball had lodged in her throat:—

“I— l have been thinking that, after all, it is selfish of me to consider my own happiness first. Wha— what If you should fall ill whe— when I am away,” with a look as if confronted by some horrid vision.

“And your health, my dear,” hardly able to repress his unholy glee.

“Archibald (with tragic gravity), a wife’s place is at her husband’s side. I shall remain.”

Victorious in his villainy, the arch-hypocrite says to himself as he imprints a chaste kiss on his wife’s brow, “Archie, old boy, you were born to be a diplomat!”

Los Angeles [CA] Herald 30 April 1905: p. 30

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The summer pilgrimage of the Little Woman to some Beauty Spot while her lord and master remained toiling at home in the summer heat was a convention which inspired many jokes and saucy sea-side postcards. We have seen the rules for gentlemen who preferred to think of themselves as “slipping the leash” rather than abandoned by wife and chicks. Mrs Daffodil has mentioned the Summer Girls who posed as married ladies to avoid mashers. Gentleman, too, posed as “grass widowers” as we see in this cartoon.

knew his way about mourning cartoon

Algy: No bereavement, I hope, dear boy? I see you’re in mourning. Neddy: Oh, no, nobody dead. Fact is, I’m off to Rotorua for a week. I want the girls to take me for a widower, and then I’m sure of a good time.

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Advertisements

A Solo Bridal Tour: 1875

 

honeymoon couple on moon

A Kentucky Bridal Tour.

[From the Courier-Journal.]

There came one day to a little inland town in Kentucky a young rural couple who had just been bound by the “silken bonds.” Their destination was the depot, and the bridegroom was evidently quite impatient for fear the train should arrive before he could reach the office. Buying one ticket, they stood on the platform until the train had stopped. When they entered the car the bridegroom found his bride a seat, kissed her most affectionately, and bade her “good-bye,” and going out, seated himself on a box and commenced whittling most vigorously. He watched the train out of sight, regret depicted on his face, when a bystander, thinking the whole proceeding rather strange, resolved to interview him. Approaching him carelessly, and chewing a straw to keep up his courage, he said:

“Been getting’ married lately?”

“Yes,” said he, “me and Sallie got spliced this mornin’.”

“Was that her you put on the train?”

“Yes,” with a sigh.

“A likely lookin’ gal,” said our questioner. “Anybody sick, that she had to go away?”

“No;” but here he grew confidential. “You see me and Sallie had heard that everybody when they got married took a bridal tour. So I told Sallie I hadn’t money enough for both of us to go, but she shouldn’t be knocked out of hern. So I jist brought her down here, bought her ticket, and sent her on a visit to some of her folks, and thought I might get some work harvestin’ till she got back.”

That afternoon found him busily at work, and when in a day or two after Sallie got back, he welcomed her cordially and affectionately, and hand in hand they started down the dusty road to their new home and duties.

Reading [PA] Times 19 August 1875: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil has written before about perfect and problematic honeymoons, but never about a solitary bridal tour.

A most considerate bride-groom, not to “knock” his wife out of a honeymoon treat, which suggests that we may feel quite sanguine about the future happiness of the union.

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

The Perfect Honeymoon: 1922

honeymoon writing cherub

HONEYMOONS

By J.E. Buckrose

Author of “Down Our Street,” “The Gossip Shop,” “The Tale of Mr. Tubbs,” etc.

Honeymoons are in one respect like human faces—millions of them have existed in the world, and no two were ever absolutely alike.

Mere details have been the same, of course, but there has always been some infinitesimal variation in the combination of those details which created the difference. For instance, numberless bridegrooms must have found themselves stranded beyond the reach of shops without a toothbrush; but the precise manner of the discovery and what happened afterwards must be just a little different in every case.

Also, though brides pack too efficiently for that sort of omission to occur, there must have been a countless host from first to last who have gone away to remote places taking nothing but new shoes with them, and have in consequence found the flowery paths of dalliance through wood and vale less of a rapturous delight than of an obligation to be fulfilled in order to avoid disappointing the new husband. And yet every one of these brides has. performed her act of self-denial with some tiny shade of difference from all the rest.

Afterwards, of course, such incidents often form the foundation of that stock of family jokes without which I think no married life ever was entirely successful; but in the meantime they do not seem funny at all. For at that time other emotions are taking up so much more than their fair share in the mind that something has to go—which something is often a sense of humour.

It really seems as if the Spirit of the Ridiculous must enjoy teasing those who have thus temporarily crowded him out. As in the case of a poor bridegroom, deeply in love but no longer quite young, who had the misfortune to drop his false teeth on the stone floor of the balcony in his palatial hotel dressing-room, at the very identical moment when he was gazing at the moon for a brief space, before joining his beloved on the other side of the highly varnished communicating door.

And this was not comic. Let any bridegroom, past, present, or to come, endeavour to put himself in that unhappy gentleman’s place, and it will be clear enough that the affair was tragic. For there was the newly-married wife waiting for him in a flutter of romance ; and here was he— desperately endeavouring to fit broken pieces of dental workmanship into his mouth, without success. Then a church clock outside warned him of the flight of time, and he appeared suddenly before his wife, looking so very odd, and muttering so strangely: “Tharah! At latht! ” that she fell back in dismay and began to glance round for the bell.

But it proved to be a blessing in disguise after all, because these two people had always been just a little too dull and proper to be really happy in the world, and now they had to start married life with a jest so broad and easily visible that even they couldn’t help seeing it by the time they returned home from the wedding journey.

Honeymoons vary extraordinarily, however, even on the written page—from that immortal one described by Milton which is the most lovely of which man’s imagination is capable, right down to the old story of the mid-Victorian bride who stopped short at Folkestone, because she really felt she could not bring herself to cross the Channel with a gentleman who was no relation except by marriage.

It is after thinking of this last that one comes with a sort of mental jolt upon a clear-eyed modern girl, who openly states her intention with regard to the perpetuation of the human race at the party given to view the wedding presents; and this in no hole and corner sort of fashion, but with the clarion voice of chanticleer heralding the morn.

Still contrasts are stimulating, so it is agreeable to recall, while listening to her, a honeymoon of the period of Nicolas Nickleby, when the bridesmaid often accompanied the happy pair, lest a “delicate female” should be too abruptly thrust into the sole companionship of the coarser male.

But at any rate there was one thing about Victorian courtships which is sometimes lacking in these more enlightened days; the newly wedded couple did start off in an atmosphere of faith and hope, and not of hope only. Everyone felt sure that they were going to live together until one of them died, and that they had every intention of bringing children into the world to fill their places when they were gone. That long month of seclusion might be dull and was almost certainly a. mistake, but they did not begin their married life ignobly.

Still the essentials of the honeymoon must always remain the same, for the god of change, who rules all else, has no power in love. That which Milton wrote of, in the grey stone cottage among the hawthorns and chestnut trees, can never go out of fashion, and the words: “Part of my soul, I seek thee “—express what every bridegroom who truly loves still feels towards his bride. The very carpet of “violet, crocus and hyacinth ” on which Eve trod, and the rose leaves which fell upon those first lovers while they slept, are not only  descriptions but symbols—new always to every one who reads them, with an exquisite freshness which seems somehow to hold the morning dew of life.

This great poem, however, contains not only wonder but a sort of divine common sense, so we are soon made aware of the dangers which encounter those who have been rapt into such a state of bliss. It is very difficult indeed to come down to the  ordinary give and take of man and wife after a period during which each has believed themselves as perfect in the other’s eyes as Adam and Eve before the fall, even when both try to live up to this idea. A desire for less exacting society will begin to creep in, and may ruin their happiness almost before married life has begun. For it is during the second part of the honeymoon, when couples begin to settle down, that the actual test comes. No living woman, however wise, will ever fail to feel surprised and hurt that her husband can be sharp about the breakfast bacon after such a. period of adoration. And no husband will ever feel pleased when the pliant creature who seemed but a rib taken from his side at the sea-side hotel, suddenly proves to have a will of her own.

But there is one hard fact which must be faced by the most romantic, if they want to be happy, and it is this: that glamour, in the nature of things, cannot stay. Everything that really matters, remains. But that most beautiful thing has to go. It is like the little angels on old ceilings—all bright eyes and hair and flashing wings and there is no use in expecting that to sit down cosily by the domestic hearth, which simply has not the accommodation.

Of course the element of strangeness during the first days of the honeymoon affects some natures quite differently from others. To some it is an excitement and a stimulus. But there are couples who feel it so acutely that the love and pleasure which they ought to enjoy are altogether spoiled, and they will own later that many succeeding holidays have proved more agreeable. But glamour was there, all the same, though they did not recognise it.

This is particularly so with the young man and woman who would defy it most, and who go forth wearing all their oldest clothes to spend what may be called the hidden honeymoon. For they are simply filled with a glorious sense of adventure, finding it splendid sport to make people believe that they have been married for years, and enjoying their greatest triumph when some mild old lady asks innocently how many children they have left at home. Though they flatter themselves that they have dispensed with glamour, it is just as visible to the intelligent observer as if they were wearing obvious trousseaux and occupying the bridal suite.

But: I think it is the couple no longer exactly young, whom nobody has wanted much before they found each other, that are the most delightful honeymooners to meet, for they have just come out into a world so new to them that the commonest daisy is a wonder. This bride—while the majority of women were gathering the blooms of ordinary love-making all along the road—will never have heard any man say her eyes are beautiful, or her hand the dearest to hold in the world, until her husband told her so.

And he—if he is the sort I mean—will begin to lift up his head and put a little flesh on his spare bones even before the end of the honeymoon, because he is able at last to rest his anxious, nervous soul in an atmosphere of uncritical appreciation…

And—having kept the best to the last—I come now to the perfect honeymoon. The happy couple have left the flowery white wedding behind them, taking only a confused memory of coloured light streaming through a church window—of friends all smiling and wishing them well—of a lump in the bride’s throat as she kisses her mother—of a great shower of confetti— of people waving and shouting good luck. At last they are alone together in the car, the quiet hedgerows rushing past them, and it is towards evening when they reach the country inn where they are to spend the night. Then there is the first meal together as husband and wife, and afterwards the inn garden all fragrant in the twilight —with the white flowers advancing from the rich gloom as they do at this hour, while the coloured ones that have been so gorgeous in the day, recede.

Glamour is now surrounding bride and bridegroom like a silver cloud. But though that must go, the love which—as old Sir Thomas à Kempis says—”makes all bitter things sweet and pleasant,” will be left with them to the end, if they continue true lovers.

Good Housekeeping, Vol. 2,  February 1922: p. 21, 88-89

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil joins the entire Empire in wishing the newly-wed Duke and Duchess of Sussex the most perfect of honeymoons and happiest of marriages.

 

For a honeymoons where all did not run smoothly, see Shuffling Off to Buffalo.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

An Up-to-Date Dog: 1897

A DAY IN  THE LIFE OF AN UP-TO-DATE DOG.

Dreadful dream this morning! Thought I was sitting at a cold, draughty street corner, with nothing on but a leather collar, and a tin mug in my mouth, collecting coppers for a  common, vulgar blind person. Most degrading! Intensely relieved, on waking, to find myself in my own comfortable padded basket. Had kicked the quilt off, and somehow managed to wriggle out of my nightgown. Talking of my nightgowns, whomever embroidered my monogram on them might have done it in two colours instead of only one. So much more chic.

After breakfast, to Toilet Club with Robert. Curling-tongs not warm enough. Obliged to complain sharply of carelessness of new assistant, who snipped nearly half the tuft off one of my haunches! Sprayed with a new scent, which, personally, I don’t care about. Dog shaved just before me wearing rather a smart overcoat, trimmed with fur, and having side-pockets for handkerchief, brush, &c. Asked him who his tailor was. Said he forgot the name—only fellow in town who really knew how to cut an overcoat. Just like my Old Woman, not to have heard of him! Catch her standing me a fur overcoat! Some dogs have all the luck!

Looked in at jeweller’s on way home. Bangle done, at last. Not bad; looks rather well on left front paw, though I don’t see why I shouldn’t have one on each leg while I’m about it. At all events she might have made it gold! However, I suppose a silver bracelet is considered good enough for me.

Tried on tan shoes at bootmaker’s. Well enough for country wear, but hardly the thing for town. Mr. Ferdie Frivell’s principal poodle told me himself that he wouldn’t be seen in Piccadilly in anything but patent leathers. And though Zulu may be rather an ass in some ways, I will say this for him—there aren’t many poodles as well turned out, or who can tell you what’s right and what isn’t right (if you know what I mean) better than old Zulu can. Brown shoes to walk about town with. That’s just one of those distinctions women don’t seem able to grasp!

Tete-a-tete lunch with the Old Woman. Wore my navy-blue lounge-coat, and cerise bow in my top-knot. O.W. boring, as usual. Wouldn’t let me have second helping of stewed chicken. Told Robert – in my presence—that I was “getting much too stout.” So is she—but she had some more chicken! I do not wish to break with her unless I’m absolutely compelled, but I cannot live happily under a roof where I don’t feel that my merits are properly appreciated. And really, to have personal remarks made upon one’s figure, to a menial–! She thought she could make it up afterwards by calling me a “Diddy-iddy-duckums”—but that was entirely beside the point, and she need not have spilt some coffee on my best morning jacket.

Drive with the O.W. Called on Lady Ida Downey, who was not at home. Robert was told to leave one of my visiting-cards on her Japanese spaniel, Mousme, a conceited, pampered little black and white beast, whom I have rather gone out of my way to snub. Much annoyed, because this sort of thing puts a poodle in such a thoroughly false position; but of course my Old Woman doesn’t consider that!

Stopped at confectioner’s for sweets. It’s a very curious thing, considering how long she’s known me, but the Old Lady never can get it into her head that I infinitely prefer fondants to chocolate creams! Is this native stupidity on her part, or merely want of observation?

My fawn-coloured driving-coat, with braided facings, seems to attract a good deal of notice; it certainly does suit me. How so many dogs can bring themselves to go about as they do in a state of Nature I simply can’t understand. If I was in their place, I should die of shame, I really believe. I should certainly catch a severe cold.

In the evening, as it seems to-day is my birthday, I entertain a few intimate friends at tea. Not a very successful party, somehow. Frisette put her foot into my saucer, and wolfed up all the apricot sandwiches—which got on my nerves. Goggles and I had a little difference about the last macaroon. As his host I suppose it would have been in better taste not to make my teeth meet in the curl of his tail; but no one knows how provoking a pug can be, till he’s tried!

One stuck-up little terrier tried to show off by sitting up and nursing a rag doll between his forepaws, which was really more than I could stand.

The party broke up rather prematurely, in a general row, after which I discovered that my black satin dress-coat with the rose-coloured lining was torn all down the back. I shall never be able to wear it again!

To bed, heavy and depressed, feeling tired of life and much troubled at night by biliousness, which is all the Old Lady’s fault for not keeping a French cook. The sort of slops Mrs. Harricoe sends up are enough to ruin any dog’s constitution!

Ah, well, some day—when they have lost me—they’ll be sorry they didn’t study me a little more.

Punch’s Almanack for 1897

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  It is the beginning of something called “National Pet Week,” in the States. We have previously read of the excesses of the pampered “Dandy Dogs” of the metropolis. The dandy dog of the account above, unnamed, save for the revolting “Diddy-iddy-duckums,” sounds an unpleasantly conceited, thoroughly spoilt canine.  Should his mistress learn of his complete contempt for her (“Old Lady,” indeed!) Mrs Daffodil would wager he would find himself on that cold street-corner, begging a crust, before he could say “morning coat.”

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Royal Cradles Through History

The miniature night nursery from Queen Mary's Dolls House. Note the three feathers on the cradle.

The miniature night nursery from Queen Mary’s Dolls House. Note the three feathers on the cradle.

[This is an encore presentation of a post originally published in 2013 on the birth of Prince George.]

Mrs Daffodil joins the entire Empire in heartiest congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on the birth of their son and future heir to the Throne. It was rather amusing to see the Duke carefully placing the car seat in the approved rear-facing position in the back seat of the family car. Things were not always so regimented. Mrs Daffodil can recall how the present Duke of Edinburgh was evacuated from Greece in 1921 in an orange crate.

Undoubtedly the young prince will sleep in a modern, safety-tested cot. Let us look at some notes on royal cradles of the past. The newspapers were just as full of “gush” over the details of royal nurseries as those of today.

 

Jan Claudius de Cock (1668-1735)  Two Studies of an elaborately decorated Cradle  This may be the cradle mentioned below.

Jan Claudius de Cock (1668-1735)
Two Studies of an elaborately decorated Cradle
This may be the cradle mentioned below.  From Christie’s Auctions.

The Kaiser is always careful that when a birth takes place in his family the ancestral cradle of the Hohenzollerns shall be used. This celebrated cradle is over 200 years old, and is supposed to protect the baby from convulsions and all sorts of childish ailments. Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 5 December 1908: p. 14

This passage tells of the birth of the future Prince Regent:

The ladies who went to see the young prince were admitted into the room, about forty at a time. The cradle in which the royal infant lay, was placed on a small elevation, under a canopy of state. The head and the sides, which came no higher than the bed, were covered with crimson velvet, and lined with white satin. – From the head rose an ornament of carved work, gilt, with a coronet in the middle. The upper sheet was covered with a very broad, beautiful Brussels lace, turning over at the top, upon a magnificent quilt of crimson velvet, and gold lace; the whole breadth of the Brussels lace appearing also along the sides, and hanging down from underneath. Near the cradle sat the nurse, with a small velvet cushion lying on her knee, for the babe to rest on; and on each side stood a fair mute, employed as occasion required, to rock the infant to sleep. Memoirs of Her Most Excellent Majesty Sophia-Charlotte, John Watkins  1819

The next cradle was prepared for Queen Victoria’s first child. You will find a shocking article about a purported royal baby switched-at-birth conspiracy here. In any case, history records that the cradle was occupied by the Princess Royal.

Under the heading

Accouchement of Her Majesty the Queen

Preparations to Receive the Royal infant

About three weeks since an order was transmitted from the board of green cloth to Messrs. Seddon, of Gray’s-inn road, the upholsterers to her Majesty, to design and make the cot and two baths for the expected scion of her illustrious house. The talents and ingenuity of the designer of the establishment, a distinguished French artiste, were accordingly called into operation; and a day or two afterwards a drawing was forwarded to the palace for the inspection of her Majesty and her royal consort, who were graciously pleased to signify their approval of the elegance and taste which had been displayed and to order the completion of these most useful appendages of a nursery with all possible dispatch. On Tuesday night the cot was sent home; and as a description of it will doubles be interesting to the public, the reporter attended at Messrs. Seddon’s, by whose kindness he is enabled to give the following particulars, which may be relied upon. The body of the cot is in the shape of that elegant marine shell, the nautilus, being a happy conception of the designer, that the child of the “Ocean Queen” should enjoy its first slumbers and be cradled in a cot whose very form is emblematic of the main strength and glory of its “island home.” The frame-work is of the choicest Spanish mahogany, and the bottom and sides padded and quilted in flutes; the whole of which, inside and out, is covered with rich green silk, embroidered most splendidly with the white rose of England. Between each flute is a circular rib of mahogany, the edges of which are richly gilt. The cot swings between pillars of mahogany standing on plinths, supported by four lion’s feet, beautifully carved and gilt. The canopy is finely scalloped, and hung with silk drapery of the same design as the lining. The whole is gilt and surmounted with the royal crown, and presents a tout ensemble at once classic and unique. The baths are not yet finished, but are being expedited as rapidly as possible, and it is understood that one will be lined with silver and the other with marble. Weekly Chronicle [London, England] 22 November  1840: p. 5

There is one article in the furniture, list which elicited a spontaneous burst of admiration from us all, especially the ladies, who have been used to seeing homely wooden cradles, if not sugar troughs. It is called the “Regia Cot,” [Regina?] I believe and is thus described:

A cradle carved in Turkey boxwood, symbolizing the Union of the Royal House of England with that of Saxe Coburg and Gotha. One end exhibits in the centre the armorial bearings of her Majesty, the Queen, surrounded by masses of foliage, natural flowers and birds; on the rocker beneath, is seen the head of Night, represented as a beautiful sleeping female crowned with a garland of poppies, supported upon bats’ wings, and surrounded by seven planets.

The other end, or the back of the head of the cradle, is devoted to the arms of H. It. H. Prince Albert; the shield occupies the centre, and round it, among the arabesque foliage, the six crests of the Prince are scattered, with the motto, ” Treu und Pest” Below, on the rocker, is discovered a head of ” Somnus,” with closed eyes, and over the chin a wimple, which, on each side, terminates in poppies.

In the interior of the head of the cradle, guardian angels are introduced; and above, the royal crown is imbedded in foliage. The friezes, forming the most important part of the sides of the body of the cradle, are composed of roses, poppies, conventional foliage, butterflies and birds, while beneath them rise a variety of pinks, studied from nature. The edges and the inside of the rockers are enriched with the insignia of royalty and emblems of repose. Have done quick with this royal baby nest! Buckeye Abroad, Or, Wanderings in Europe and in the Orient,  Samuel Sullivan Cox, 1859 

Mrs Daffodil found herself baffled as to the identity of the royal baby supposed to occupy this masterpiece of the woodcarver’s art.  It was probably carved as a compliment to the Royal Family (or in the hope that they would purchase it) and was merely a showpiece at The Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace. Unless it was the cradle Queen Victoria had commissioned for Princess Louise, born in 1848, seen below.

Cradle commissioned by Queen Victoria for Princess Louise

Cradle commissioned by Queen Victoria for Princess Louise

The child who slept in the cradle below was the French Prince Imperial, Napoléon Eugène Louis Jean Joseph, so unhappily cut down in his youth.

cradle prince imperial

At the end of the room stands the cradle— not that which the city of Paris is preparing for the imperial infant, but still one of great beauty. A lofty fleche at the head, formed of a vine-branch of gilt bronze, gently bends over the part in which the infant is to sleep. From the fleche, curtains of Mechlin lace, lined with blue silk, are suspended at each side, the whole being looped up with gold cords terminating with torsades to match of the same metal. One couvrepied is of white satin, and another of blue, and the whole is covered over with Alencon lace, with the initials N.E. in the centre, the whole producing an effect of the rarest elegance. Opposite the cradle, on the centre-table, stands the robe de bapteme, all of point d’Alencon, with mantle and headdress to match. Near it is a muff of ermine, with a mantle of white satin lined with ermine. On the table lay the child’s coral for the period of teething— in this instance made of amber, the ball for the rattle being hollowed from the solid mass. This little plaything alone cost 600 f. Near it was placed an amber necklace, with a small gold medallion in the centre, to which the Archbishop of Paris has given his benediction. Three corbeilles de bapteme lay near, all lined with blue satin, and covered with Alencon lace, and bearing the imperial cipher and arms. To go on would be to fill a column, and yet not a word has been said of the contents of the other rooms, equally worthy of being examined. We cannot, however, help stating that the articles prepared for the nurse (twelve dozen in number) are also of extraordinary beauty and richness, as may be judged from the fact that her aprons are embroidered with as much care as the articles for the child, and, like them, trimmed with Alencon lace. The taste with which the whole is laid out is not the smallest charm of this exhibition, which, of its kind, has perhaps never been equalled. It adds to the admiration excited to learn that the whole was designed, embroidered and made up in the short space of two months and a half.  Godey’s Lady’s Book [Philadelphia, PA] July 1856

The riches of oriental potentates were lovingly described in the papers.

King Theebau’s Expected Heir

Extensive preparations are being made at the palace in Manadalay, Burmah, in prospect of a coming event, viz: the confinement of King Theebau’s head queen, the Soo-pyah-lat….It is reported that the cradle which has just been completely cost the State nearly two lacs of rupees ($100,000). The cradle was first framed with mango wood and encased with sheet gold inside and outside. Over this is ornamented gold work, set with precious stones of all kinds—diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, etc.—and the work is said to be very superior, as it is turned out by the best of first-class goldsmiths of Upper Burmah. The arrangement for fitting up the cradle are as follows: A soft bed or cushion covered with green silk velvet and the sides with embroidered work. This is the manner in which the cradle was to be fixed and how worked. A thick iron rod has been fixed across the room some twelve feet above the floor, and the cradle is suspended by means of golden cords, made of golden wire, for the purpose of swinging, and to work backward and forward, like punkahs in your part of the world.

The King objected to the old method of having the royal cradle pulled by a parcel of old women, so the mechanical and engineering elements of his kingdom were called into requisition, and one of the Italian mechanics has invented a wind-up machine by which the cradle can be set going, once wound up for a day or night, or until further orders, to the great delight of the King. The Vancouver [WA] Independent 8 January 1880: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil has no information on this jewel-encrusted cradle, except that it came from the Ottoman Empire.

Alas, the shell is obscured by the lace

Alas, the shell is obscured by the lace

The lately-born infanta of Spain, Mary Ysabel, sleeps, wakes and cries in a cradle shaped like a conch shell and lined with the palest of pink satin. Her tiny form is covered with point d’Alencon lace, specially made form a pattern designed by the queen of Spain’s mother, in which the arms of Spain and Austria are gracefully blended. She has a couvrepied and tiny pillow, on both of which the lilies of the house of Bourbon and the Y of her pretty name, Ysabel, are laced and interlaced. The other royal baby, the young hereditary prince of  Sweden, has a much less delicate cradle, as becomes a hardy young Norseman. It is shaped like a swan, the wings coming up, if wished and sheltering the little prince, and is well provided with down stuffed accessories. The Vancouver [WA] Independent 25 October 1883: p. 2 [Mary Ysabel was the daughter of King Alfonso XII, he of the “Hoodoo Ring.”]

cradle english prince

All his environment is ancestral and in close touch with his distinguished lineage. Even the swinging cradle in which the wee body takes his long baby sleeps as held the infant forms of many of his royal grand uncles and aunts. It is the one the queen had in the royal nursery for her own children, and it is deemed proper and suitable that this important successor in the line should have a resting place dignified with heredity.

The cradle swings from a graceful frame of rich old mahogany inlaid with gold. Draperies of handsome brocade of a delicate pearl tint are attached and used to shut off intrusive draughts. The sheets for this downy nest are of fine Irish lawn, lace trimmed; the blankets are softest embroidered Pyrenean wool, and the coverlid matches the pearl brocade. The crown and three feathers which surmount the framework are further typical of the royal estate of the small occupant, whose baby eyes look out on many such suggestive emblems. Jackson Citizen [Jackson, MI] 11 September 1894: p. 10

The royal baby in this case was Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David, later King Edward VIII:  he who forgot his duty when ensnared by the American temptress.

Gifts for the royal Dutch baby, Princess Juliana

Gifts for the royal Dutch baby, Princess Juliana

A magnificent cradle of beaten silver will be the gift of the ladies of the Dutch nobility. A life-sized angel hovers over the head of the cradle, while at the foot is an equally life-sized baby. The sides are decorated with the arms of Holland and Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 13 October 1901: p. 8

This was the cradle for the much-longed-for Princess Juliana, the daughter of Queen Wilhelmina of Holland. The people of Holland, in raptures over the happy event, sent lavish gifts. The gifts pictured above include two cradles, a nursery clock, and an incubator—suggested by the Queen’s unhappy obstetrical history.

The Layette of the Royal Baby of Italy.

Little Garments Fashioned by Queen Helene Herself.

The royal child will certainly sleep in the midst of beauty, for even the sheets for the bed and cradle have been in the hands of skillful artists of embroidery. One set of sheets is embroidered simply in a sprays of forget-me-nots around the edge, another shows the embroidery in a pattern with narrow blue ribbon , and in another set the corners are filled with embroidery, and an embroidered ruffle finishes the sides. One set of sheets is trimmed with lace applique and a favorite pattern is the dove of peace hovering near the crown…The cradle, which was watched over and guarded from public gaze by the sculptor who designed it, Monteverde and by Prince Prospero Colonna, mayor of Rome, through whom it was presented by the city, is probably as gorgeous a one as was ever made. The entire structure is over six feet high and three and a half feet wide. The basket is of solid silver; the upper and lower parts are made in a wickerwork design, with the bearings of the divisions of Rome decorating the center. There are fourteen of these coats of arms, representing the quarters of the city—Monty, Trivia, Colonna, Campomarzo, Ponte, Parione, Regola, S. Eustachies, Pignia, Campitello, S. Angelo, Ripa, Trastavere and Borgo. On the bottom of the cradle basket a huge silver rose unfolds in numerous delicate petals. The basket rocks in a support of gilded bronze with four lion paws at the floor. At one extremity is a column bearing the emblem of Rome, a female figure wearing a helmet, and holding in the right hand the royal Italian crown. The column is adorned with Roman trophies and on one side sows the Roma wolf; on another the eagle; on the third, the royal military standard is unfurled, and on the fourth side is the well-known emblem of the hand upheld in the center of the crown. The angel which supports the cradle at the other extremity clasps in its arms the shields united of the house of Savoy and the house of Montenegro. From July Issue of Harper’s Bazaar. Richmond [VA] Dispatch 16 June 1901: p. 13  [Queen Helene was Elena of Montenegro; the King was Emmanuel III of Italy; the baby of this extraordinary cradle was Princess Yolanda of Savoy.]

Descriptions of the infant Czarevitch focused more on the nursery regimen, but a few hints crept in as to the luxury of the Imperial baby. Perhaps descriptions of pomp and wealth were discouraged, so as not to inflame the Bolsheviks who brought the Imperial family to so sad an end.

 Here are some of the gifts that have already been sent to the Czarevitch: A cradle of solid gold from the city of Moscow. The top is carved with the head of the Madonna. On each side there is a draped curtain of gold leaf, forming a canopy for the head of the cradle.  Boston Herald (Boston, MA) 18 September, 1904: p. 45

Young Czarevitch’s Jeweled Cradle

The cradle in which the czarevitch will receive the homage of the nobility of the empire is a superb affair of precious wood inlaid with jewels. It stands on a golden frame and the imperial crown of Russia surmounts a graceful branch from which hang lace curtains of great price. Hygienically speaking, the infant would do better to sleep in a plain brass crib. Denver [CO] Post 25 August 1904: p. 6 [Quite right. It has been “rediscovered” by modern physicians that brass doorknobs, for example, discourage the transmission of germs.]

The cradle of the Prince of Asturias.

The cradle of the Prince of Asturias.

 ROYAL HEIR

Of Spain Will be Cradled Under Silk Covers Garlanded in Rosebuds and Butterflies

Madrid. February 23. The preparations for the expected royal heir of Spain are nearing completion. The cradle in which Alfonso III slept will lull the little newcomer to rest as it lies beneath hand-embroidered coverlets of white silk, garlanded in rosebuds and butterflies. Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 24 February 1907: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil supposes that Alfonso III is a misprint for Alfonso XIII. Alfonso III of Asturias, “The Great,” would have been rocked in a cradle in the 9th century. Any royal nursemaids worth their keep would have scrubbed even a royal cradle to splinters by 1907. The Princely baby who slumbered under such lovely bed linens was Alfonso Pío Cristino Eduardo Francisco Guillermo Carlos Enrique Eugenio Fernando Antonio Venancio Borbón y Battenberg, Prince of Asturias. Alfonso XIII, of course, lost his throne, so the heir never inherited.

A few additional royal cradles: That of Sweden, used for the first time recently for the Christening of a Princess.

The Cradle of the Prince of Rome

The Cradle of the Prince of Rome

And that of the ill-fated Prince of Rome, Napoleon’s son.

Once again, Mrs Daffodil wishes all the best to the Duke and Duchess and their new little one and trusts that he will have a happier upbringing and fate than some of his royal cousins of the past.

 

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

The Ins and Outs of Spring-Cleaning: 1917

mopping the floor.JPG

OUR CLUB DIARY

We Discuss the Ins and Outs of Spring Cleaning
By the Secretary

Do you suppose our men-folks are waking up to the fact that the science of housekeeping has taken a big new stride and that the long season of turmoil and hard work and general crossness we used to call spring cleaning is clear out of date? We women are only just growing aware of it ourselves. When the men really sense the fact I expect they’ll add a new Thanksgiving Day to the calendar.

We decided, by way of experiment, to make a change in the method of carrying out our program and to conduct it as a discussion with a leader who should start things and sound the keynote. She was also expected to link the prepared talks together, fill in the chinks, preside over a free-for-all discussion after the papers were read and sum things up at the close. Quite a responsible job, wasn’t it?

We had a clever woman to do it, though, when Lena Morgan took hold, for she is not only a neat and systematic housekeeper who knows a lot about cleaning, but a short career as a school-teacher taught her to use her wits and voice readily when she stands before folks. We appointed seven other women to give ten-minute talks on house-cleaning topics and asked them to confer with Lena so as to keep their ideas in harmony with the general spirit of the topic of the afternoon.

It was one of those early spring days which don’t mean anything, really, but make you think that perhaps spring may be on the way. The ground was soft and there was a gentle warmth in the air when one stood in the doorway; our heavy winter coats felt burdensome when we walked out. Such a day is like a letter from spring to tell us she has started north. It made us feel like furbishing up our homes in welcome. I knew when our club women came into the house for the meeting that they were in a mood for our program.

Nine Things to Remember.

Lena began briskly by reading a group of rules, explaining them as she went along. Here they are:

Keep clean and you won’t have to make a grand annual effort to get clean.

Keep no rubbish about the house-especially moth-collectors.

Pots and pans should be scoured whenever they need it and not be saved up for a tiresome orgy of cleaning.

Keep a list of repairs and of things which need replacing, as you discover them.

The renovating of walls, floors and woodwork can be left until the fires are out.

Don’t tear up more than one room at a time if it can be avoided.

Don’t try to do more than a day’s work in a day.

Have a helper for heavy jobs— and save a doctor’s bill.

Keep comfortable and keep your family comfortable.

Lena used the blackboard to write down a list of the things which could be put to rights early, at any convenient time. I noticed on this list the cleaning of the attic, closets and trunks, sewing machine and dresser drawers.

The Family’s Comfort

When all the fires were out and the housewife wished to clear out the last signs of the smoke and dirt of winter she could tear up a single room at a time, clean and settle it in a day with the least possible stir and disorder. Lena asserted that the housekeeper who kept her house up properly did not need to find spring house cleaning a heavy burden and that a house which had to be cleaned up by a great upheaval was either run on an out-of-date plan or was kept in a slovenly fashion. Everyone shrugged and rustled and whispered as she said it.

I’m sure few men will believe that we gave any time to the topic of how to keep the family comfortable during house cleaning, but we did. The speaker told us in practical detail how to organize our work so as to clean and settle a room in a day. Then she recommended that we serve especially generous and nourishing meals during spring cleaning instead of the usual slighted and scanty ones. Such a plan would refresh the workers and keep the family good-natured too. We copied down a list of foods which could be cooked up in advance, such as good, rich soup stock, a pudding or two, baked beans, scalloped potatoes and macaroni and cheese, as well as some meats and a big jar of cookies.

“Who says housekeeping isn’t a real business?” whispered my neighbor as we listened to a clear-cut talk on the uses and benefits of an inventory of household goods. The speaker showed us the various lists of her family belongings, posted on a card index and fitted neatly into a wooden box. On a card marked silver was a list of the family silver; the best set of china, the everyday set and miscellaneous dishes each had a card. If dishes were broken after they were listed that fact was noted.

I saw a list of kitchen utensils and one of cans of fruit and of glasses of jelly. Wasn’t that a clever idea? Then a housewife could keep track of how much the family can use each year, and the cost of canning it. Table linen, with notes about patterns, was on still another card, together with the cost and date of purchase, whenever she knew it: Towels had their card and so had bed linen. The bedding, with details and the place where unused bedding was stored, was listed on other cards. There was a fine inventory of family clothing, its cost, and other items. We were told that friendly small things were stored together in boxes and an inventory told just where to find them. It made me envious. If I’d had such a system in my house I wouldn’t have needed to rummage through all my boxes and trunks last week when I tried to find some old embroidered trimming for my dressmaker.

There was a great clatter of brushes and cans and a clicking of bottles when Annie Morris came to the front to talk on cleaning equipment. Annie tackled her subject with all the zest of a canvasser displaying his wares and showed us a lot of clever contraptions in the way of labor-saving devices. She wrote out a list of the equipment she recommended, and told us to have it ready for use in advance of the spring-cleaning period.

I mean to have a wool brush like Annie’s for cleaning wall paper. But I’ll not pay a dollar for mine, for I’m sure I can make one to serve the purpose. All I’ll need will be a piece of cleaned sheep’s pelt and a block to tack it on to and an old broom handle fastened to the block. I don’t know any short cut by which I can get hold of a dust brush such as painters use, except by planking down the money. Still, it will be worth buying for the clever way in which it licks the dust out of inaccessible cracks and corners.

Twenty minutes was allowed the speaker on Walls, Woodwork, Floors and Furniture, and she didn’t waste a minute. I can’t begin to repeat all she said, though all her listeners took pages of notes. She warned us that if woodwork needed cleaning it should be thoroughly done or the wood finish would be ruined. She then described three methods of cleaning finished wood. The first was cleansing with tepid suds made of a mild soap. No more than a yard of woodwork should be washed at a time; it should then be rinsed in clear warm water and dried thoroughly. The second method—one I like, myself, in spite of the horrid odor—is to clean with a cloth moistened with kerosene. The wood should finally be rubbed thoroughly with a clean cloth. . The third method—particularly good for white paint—is to clean with warm water, with whiting; the woodwork should then be carefully rinsed and dried. We were told that if we wanted to keep paint and varnish from cracking or growing powdery in the air it was wise to rub it once a year with paraffin oil. This treatment restores to the finish the oils it loses as it ages. Rubbing with linseed oil or with paraffin oil lengthens the life and saves the looks of linoleum.

We filled up two or three more pages of our notebooks as we listened to the talk on carpets, rugs, draperies and bedding. One suggestion seemed designed especially for me. I’ve been wanting a brown rug for my sitting room but couldn’t find it in my conscience to get it, for the old rug was sound though it was faded and ugly. It was a godsend to learn that I could dye the old rug myself by mixing up two or three packages of brown dye with the necessary hot water, according to package directions, and applying the color to the rug with a scrubbing brush. I’ll try a piece first before I plunge into the job, and I’ll lay the rug on a floor which can’t be hurt as I work.

When the discussion opened and Lena invited everyone to take part, a perfect babel of questions and remarks arose which Lena had to regulate and quell. As we adjourned, our hostess brought out her new vacuum cleaner and showed us how thoroughly it cleaned carpets and upholstered pieces so we could scarcely beat out the slightest dust from the fabrics afterward. Katy and Sarah and I live close together and we’ve just about decided to get one on shares. I figure I’ll about save the cost of my share when I dye my old rug so I won’t need a new one.

The Country Gentleman, Vol. 82, 31 March 1917: pp. 42-43

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil will not bore you with the byzantine details of Spring Cleaning at the Hall, which is always done when the Family is away. Suffice it to say that, although Mrs Daffodil attempts to follow the “keep clean” axiom above, there is always upheaval and invariably something more to do if one looks closely.  One year she was appalled to find that a negligent housemaid had dumped all of her sweepings into the Tudor chest in the entrance hall. Another year, a footman’s room was found to be over-run with vermin of every description; he and his room-mate had been in the habit of pocketing unused bits from the Family’s tea-tray; the remnants attracted an infestation that was most difficult to eradicate. His Lordship thoughtfully transferred the two onto the staff of the pig-man, rather than giving them the sack, but they quickly found more congenial employment.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.

The Wrong Cards: 1899

Visiting cards were carried in a pretty card case. This is carved mother-of-pearl c. 1860-1900 http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/178924.html?mulR=1481553220|12

Visiting cards were carried in a pretty card case. This is carved mother-of-pearl c. 1860-1900 http://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/178924.html?mulR=1481553220|12

GETTING THINGS MIXED

Some Amusing Situations Resulting from People Receiving the Wrong Cards.

The harm wrought by cards is not only confined to those used for games; the once innocuous visiting card has also been perverted from innocent uses and has become quite a factor in mischief-making.

“Do the best you can for five dollars, for that is all you will get,” wrote an infatuated but impecunious youth to a florist with whom he was in the habit of dealing, and inclosing another card, told the florist to send it and the flowers to his latest inamorata, but the cards got mixed somehow, and it was the message written for the florist which the young woman received and read to her great astonishment.

“Thank you for your flowers, Mr. Smith,” she said that evening. “I think he gave a good deal for five dollars, don’t you?” and as the young man stared amazed she walked off with his hated rival, while the slow dawn of comprehension gradually enlightened her unlucky suitor as to what had occurred. Still more funny and much more disastrous was the mistake of a valet employed by a youth of upper tendom, who took the wrong box to the house of a young woman, with the envelope his master had given him, which contained a card upon which was written: “Please wear these tonight. I chose what I thought would suit you best.” But what was the astonishment and indignation of the maiden upon opening the box to find within it—a pair of trousers! That the unfortunate donor hastened to explain the terrible mistake as soon as he discovered the blunder made no difference. The story got about. Society was in convulsions of laughter and he was never forgiven. Still another card story is the following:

“Will you take my address, sir?” said a popular hairdresser and barber, as a customer was leaving the shop. The latter pocketed the bit of pasteboard handed him mechanically, and with his mind on other things, and, freshly shaven and well groomed, proceeded on his way to make a round of visits.

“I think Miss S__ is expecting you,” said the footman, as he glanced at the card given to him by this youth, “but if you will wait a minute I will see if it is all right.”

“Deuced odd,” soliloquized the visitor, as he walked into the drawing room. A second after the servant reappeared.

“Will you please walk upstairs; Miss S___ is in the front room,” he said. Thinking that the sitting-room might be upstairs the visitor followed the man unsuspectingly and not until he was ushered into a prettily furnished bedroom and saw a young lady sitting before a glass in a pink dressing gown with her hair down her back, did he realized there had been a mistake. He had given the footman the card which the hairdresser had thrust upon him. N.Y. Tribune.

The Wyandott Herald [Kansas City, KS] 30 March 1899: p. 4

A gentleman's visiting cards. National Trust Collections

A gentleman’s visiting cards. National Trust Collections

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The etiquette of visiting cards was rigidly codified and mistakes might too easily occur, as we have seen above. Here are some of the regulations for 1896:

THE ETIQUETTE OF CARDS AND CALLING

Every woman who desires to be up in the usages of good form, should, if she is not to the manner born, study the etiquette of card-leaving. The rules which govern such things are as immutable as the laws of the Medes and Persians, although from one season to another there is apt to be a few trifling changes.

In cities, where one has a large circle of acquaintances, visits of ceremony must necessarily be paid, but not with frequency. It is a breach of etiquette to invite anyone to a social function without having first called. Many women who cling to the rigid code of etiquette make a point of calling or leaving cards upon those persons whose acquaintance they consider desirable.

However, even this ceremony is frequently omitted by those with a long visiting-list, who save themselves time and trouble by sending invitations to an afternoon tea or reception, to all whom they wish to keep on their visiting-list: those who do not receive cards, may take it as an intimation that further acquaintance is undesirable.

Women of fashion or business find it impossible to receive on any but certain days of the week, the day being printed upon their visiting-cards; to expect to be received at any other time, unless in the case of an intimate friend, would be a mistake. [We have seen how even a doll, “Mademoiselle Frou-Frou,” had her at-home days printed on her visiting cards.]

Persons who wish to adhere strictly to the truth, object to the term “not at home,” and believe that a lady should “beg to be excused.” “Not at home” means, according to the strict social code, that one is not receiving, and is impersonal and general. To “beg to be excused” seems somewhat of a personal affront, and might appear as if some particular person’s call was not acceptable.

When a stranger arrives in a distant city, it is proper to send cards apprising friends of his or her arrival. A change of address also necessitates the despatching of cards, for where time is precious, it is annoying to make a call in vain.

When leaving cards at a hotel, the name of the person upon whom one calls should be written across the top of the card, for the reason that it might otherwise go astray.

On regular reception days it would be quite incorrect to send one’s cards by the footman; one must call in person or not at all. In this country, where there are few men of leisure, it is an understood thing for a wife to leave her husband’s cards. She should leave one of her own and two of her husband’s, the latter for the master and mistress. The custom of leaving cards on every member of a large family has fallen into disuse, although many people still adhere to it; it is proper to do so upon the occasion of the initial call, but is quite unnecessary afterward.

Upon reception days, the visitor does not send her card by the servant, but, on entering or leaving, drops it in the card-receiver, which usually stands on the hall table. After a reception or tea it is not absolutely necessary to call, as attendance at that function takes the place of a visit.

In the case of a friend visiting at the house of a person with whom there has been no previous acquaintance, the courtesy of sending a card to the hostess should be extended; it is not, however, necessary that she should appear or acknowledge it in any way.

In large cities, the hours for calling are between three and six P.M.; it would be a solecism to call during the morning hours, except on business, or in the case of extreme intimacy. It is permissible for a gentlemen who has no other time at his disposal to pay a call in the evening.

It is indispensable that a call be made, not later than a week after a dinner; the French designate this as the visite de digestion. After every formal entertainment, such as a ball, wedding, or christening, cards should be left.

Godey’s Lady’s Book January, 1896

Some visiting cards, rather less correct, were ornamented with pretty lithographs.

Some visiting cards, rather less correct, were ornamented with pretty lithographs.

And yet, sometimes sending in the wrong card was all for the best:

SENT IN THE WRONG CARD.

And There was a Glorious Mistake Which, After All, Ended All Right.

“It might not always be pleasant to be taken for someone else,” said the man who asked for an experience, “but in my case it was the most delightful incident of my life. You see, it happened in this way. I was going to visit an interior town of some size and my neighbor, old Jo Peters, who was rich and crabbed and eccentric, but not a bad sort withal, asked me to call on a sister he had living there.

“’I ain’t seen her in twenty years’ he said to me ‘and like enough she don’t care a picayune whether she ever sees or hears of me or not, but I’d kind of like to know how she’s fixed since her husband died a spell ago. You might just skirmish round and see how the land lays.’

“When I reached F__, the western town in which Peter’s folks lived I attended to my business first and then went to call on his sister.

“Now, I am not in the habit of using cards when I make a call, like swell folks but I had a business card and it struck me it would be about right to send that in to the folks and wait in the parlor to see what came of it.

“Well, such a screeching and shouting I never heard in my life and I began to think I had struck a lunatic asylum and a few minutes later I was sure of it, for three women came rushing into the room and they all began calling me Uncle Jo and hugging me within an inch of my life.

“’One at a time,’ I said, for though the mother was handsome, the girls were just peaches and cream, and it was hard for me to tell them that I was not their Uncle Jo. I had sent in his business card instead of my own and that’s how they made the mistake. The girls seemed to think it a good joke, but the widow was awfully flustrated. [sic] However, the next time I kissed her it wasn’t any mistake.”

Knoxville [TN] Journal 30 August 1896: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.