Category Archives: Domestic Arrangements

The School of Hammocking: 1901

IN A HAMMOCK WITH THE SUMMER GIRL

A summer school of hammocking was opened in one of the large cities recently. It was a secret society school, conducted on the strictest lines of never tell, and all information regarding its whereabouts, its pupils, their residences, or the places where they, will spend the summer were to be kept secret.

The object of the school was the teaching of grace to the summer girl, who must spend part of her summer days in the hammock. The lessons embraced the getting in and the getting out of it, also the proper manner of sitting down and talking. How to lie down and sleep, how to recline and read, how to carry on an animated conversation without tipping out backward, how to talk, to flirt, to laugh and to rise from the hammock were all in the curriculum.

The teacher—for, though the aims of the school may seem trifling to the unambitious woman, they were taken in all seriousness by the pupils–was one of the most famous teachers of expression in this country. She teaches some of the most celebrated stage people in the world how to be graceful, and she instructs great speakers on the small arts of gesture. When not otherwise engaged she takes classes of women in the 400 and teaches them how to enter a drawing-room and depart therefrom. She shows them how to look at flowers, how to gaze upon works of art, how to receive a compliment with grace and without blushing, how to decline a verbal invitation well, in short, how to be a belle.

The hammock field is a new one to her, but, on being told that she would, by her instruction, fill a long felt want, she consented to give a dozen lessons in the art of entering a hammock to a select circle of young women. The schoolroom was a roof garden, and the hours for the lessons broad daylight with nothing overhead except the sun and a friendly canopy. At the end of twelve lessons the pupils were turned out graduated, with verbal diplomas. All were bound to perpetual secrecy and to know them this summer you must watch the hammock girls and observe which conduct themselves with most grace. Those who are faultless have doubtless been members of the summer school of hammocking.

hammock girl4 (2)

Belle of Summer

The hammock girl is the belle of summer. Old Sol beholds her by the first light of his yellowing rays, and Luna, when she retires behind the day clouds, looks back again to wish her a good night.

To spend the summer in a hammock is the ideal of the languid maid and the favorite dolce far niente of the July girl.

It is said that the hammock habit is the hardest of all to drop. Once formed it becomes almost an insidious disease, preying upon its victim, who cannot tear herself from its grasp of netting. The hammock is responsible for many an added pound, for many a wasted moment. It is the parent of flirtation and it is the scene of many a jolly summer hour.

The girl who can escape to the country for a month or two takes with her a hammock. But it is not she alone who indulges in such an article. The roof garden girl has discovered that it is mightily pleasant to swing in the net, up under the stars, and for her there are wonderfully built hammocks, supported by uprights that are warranted not to break, or allow the ropes to loosen at the critical moment.

Where lives there a man who has not swung a hammock? To climb a tree, knot a rope to a limb and climb down again is part of the programme of the man who goes away for a rest. The chances are that he will hang many a one and rehang several, for ropes shrink and break, slacken and untie and raise uncertainty generally.

The possibilities of picking one’s self up gracefully when the hammock rope breaks are not to be discussed. That is an emergency which must be met at the time. When the hammock falls there is no choice but to settle down in a heap and to roll over and get up with such God-given grace as may be vouchsafed at the moment.

hammock girl3 (2)

The Getting In

But it is with the chances of being graceful when the hammock is in normal position that this has to deal. It is claimed that the girl who can get into a hammock gracefully and there sit and enjoy a conversation without tipping backward or falling frontward, is entitled to a diploma of grace. Certainly she does well, for the hammock is not a rocking chair, nor an anchored seat. It tips and rolls, shunts and rocks, shifts and falls in unexpected spots and is not dependable as a medium of keeping one’s poise.

The girl who would seat herself in a hammock nicely cannot do so carelessly. Let her merely catch hold of the rope and seat herself and she will find herself landed upon the floor. Possibly she may go entirely over the hammock and seat herself on the other side of it, with her feet clawing the ropes and her hands wildly grasping nothing.

 

To seat yourself in the hammock correctly take hold of one side of the netting, bend slightly, and, with the other hand, draw the hammock in under you. This gives you a purchase upon it; you then seat yourself and find the seat in under you. The trick is twofold. It lies in resting the entire weight upon one foot, and, at the same time, pulling the seat of the hammock forward.

hammock girl2 (2)

To lie down in the hammock requires practice. One must not look as though laid out and one must not sink out of sight in the depths of the hammock. The head should rest upon a pillow at one end of the net and the feet should lie together in the other end. To accomplish this gracefully the body must lie slightly at diagonals with the netting, so that the feet just peep out at one side, the head at the other. This gives one more of an upright position and enables one to carry on a conversation while resting. The hammock robe is not often used. It hides the pretty summer gown. If used at all it is thrown across the foot of the hammock, but is rarely employed as a spread.

The Skirt Question

To keep the skirts in place is a difficult matter when planning to lie down. It is done by gently gathering up the side of the skirts with the hand and tucking them in the hammock as one lies down. The feet should be lifted very slowly and deliberately, with the skirts clinging around them, or the general pictorial effect will not be good.

hammock girl4 (2)

To sit and converse in a hammock affords a theatre for some of the most delightful poses. One of these brings out the true poetry of motion. The young woman who attempts it must seat herself gracefully, and then, with a side motion, turn herself a little. One hand must be extended to grasp the netting, while the other must rest in her lap. The pose is a very comfortable one and certainly pretty.

The summer girl who coquettes in a hammock is lost unless she be very skilful. She must have practiced the scenes before or she will not be a success. If she own a hammock that is supported by uprights, let her take it and swing it in front of a pier glass. With the mirror in front of her she can practice her poses.

The animated pose is the most difficult of all. She must seat herself and in some manner manage to change her poses as she talks. She must be as free as though in a tete-a-tete chair.

hammock girl 1 (2)

A coquettish pose, which gives an opportunity for the display of the pretty feet of the young woman, is that in which, with extended feet, she sits with both hands upon the netting and looks straight at you. To keep her poise both arms are stretched out at the side of, her, and both hands are twisted in the netting. Her feet are crossed and pressed forward so that the hammock is swinging. It is not a strictly conventional pose nor one that is in afford with the accepted poses of Delsarte or his followers, but it is effective.

To read picturesquely is quite difficult, until one has acquired the trick. It all depends upon the way one enters the hammock. The young woman who will seat herself in the middle of the hammock, a little toward one end, and who will lift her skirts with one hand, lifting her feet with them, will be sure of a safe deposit into the hammock. She must practice balancing a little in order to keep her head higher than her feet.

The self-taught hammock girl may be a success if she will practice assiduously, but it is far better to engage a friendly spectator who will look on and criticise and offer suggestions at the valuable moment.

AUGUSTA PRESCOTT.

The Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 26 May 1901: p. 38

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Obviously one needs the correct wardrobe for hammocking: the petticoats that froth beneath the simple summer frock; the pretty stockings and shoes for accidental exposure.

HAMMOCK DRESSES.

“Hammock” dresses, designed for elegant wear on sultry, lazy afternoon, are announced. They are made with long flowing Greek lines; they are steel-less, cushionless, half fitting, but graceful withal, having the look of untidy looseness, and are made of all the soft, pretty crepalines, challis, carmelites and also of China silk, foulard and surah. New York World.

The Salisbury [NC] Truth 12 June 1890: p. 7

Hammock frocks, fashioned from the softest of undressed mulls, delicate batiste and old, quainty-flowered muslins.

Buffalo [NY] Evening News 27 July 1896: p. 43

Mr Binks’s Safety Hammock tells of the perils of hammock customisation, while useful tips about “hammock frocks” are found in My Lady’s Hammock

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.

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An Uncanny Thing in Nottingham: 1910s

cowering from ghost Ghosts' Gloom a Novel

AN AUTHENTIC GHOST STORY

INCIDENT WHICH COMPLETELY ALTERED THE WRITER’S OUTLOOK

Henry C. Hall

At a dinner party at a friend’s house recently, the conversation turned to a subject on which, to my surprise, I was the only one present able to give first-hand information. The subject was that of ghosts, or spirits, and a general discussion developed. Not ghosts, or ghost stories, talked of in the usual flippant manner, but spirits from the other world, and whether they are visible at times on this earth. During the conversation, a lady remarked she had never yet met anyone who had actually seen a ghost. I was immediately an object of interest, when I quietly announced the fact that I had definitely seen one. As the details of my experience caused considerable astonishment, I have decided to write them down for the benefit of readers of Light.

The incident happened when I was a boy of 15 years of age. We lived in a large house at Nottingham, a very old house with fairly extensive grounds. As the actual house is occupied at this moment, I do not propose to reveal the exact address, as it might upset the present occupier to know it is haunted. But the house stands in what is known as the Sherwood Rise district, and to those who know Nottingham, this will give them an idea of its whereabouts.

It was a summer evening in July, and the day had been oppressively hot. The time was round about six o’clock, so that it was broad daylight. I had been in the garage with one of my brothers, where we had been amusing ourselves with shooting darts form a toy revolver. Presently, I left to go into the house, and crossed the yard with the toy revolver in my hand, still loaded with one of the harmless rubber darts. I made to enter the house by the back way for a short-cut, passing through a glass porch to the back door, which opened into a small square lobby. On this hot evening, the back door stood wide open; and, passing into the lobby, the kitchen door was on my left, and this was also wide open. Facing me on the far side of the lobby was a swing door that led into the front part of the house, and this door was closed. At this particular moment the kitchen was unoccupied, the maids being elsewhere in the front portion of the house.

I should mention here that the kitchen quarters were entirely isolated and cut off from the rest of the house when the swing door referred to was closed, so that the lobby, kitchen, scullery, and larder (each leading out of the other) being deserted, there was no human being on this side of the swing door besides myself. There was no back staircase or other means of communication from this part of the house, to the front. It is important to remember this.

Hanging on the far side of the kitchen wall, directly facing the kitchen door, was the kitchen clock, one of the old-fashioned type, with a large dial. When the kitchen door was open, it was an easy matter to glance at the time as you walked across the small lobby, and I did so on this occasion. Suddenly a bright idea entered my head. What a perfectly delightful target the clock face made for me with the loaded revolver in my hand. Now for a bullseye with my last shot. I would stand and take direct aim at the clock, through the open kitchen door. I took up my position, pointed the revolver, and prepared to take sight before pulling the trigger. During these few seconds there was dead silence. A great stillness seemed to pervade the place, a hushed deep calm, which I could almost feel. That kind of stillness which is inseparable from a house on a hot summer evening, when there is no life or movement; and save for the regular ticking of the clock, the silence was profound. It was at this precise moment that the great event happened.

With my finger still on the trigger, taking deliberate aim, I saw a ghost—a ghost in human shape—appear before my eyes. This unearthly apparition was that of a man, tall, and of medium build, enveloped from head to foot in a hooded long grey cloak or shroud. The substance of this uncanny thing appeared to be some kind of vapour, or thick smoke, partly transparent, but with a well-defined, clear-cut outline. It emerged slowly and stealthily from the interior of the kitchen, presenting a most eerie sight, and drifted noiselessly and warily along the floor, directly across my line of fire.

I was so utterly bewildered and dumbfounded, that I could not move, and stood and gasped in amazement. I gazed before me as if in a trance, completely stupefied. Suddenly my hand released its grasp of the revolver, which fell to the tiled floor with a crash. This breaking of the silence appeared to startle the ghost, for it turned its head in my direction, as if caught unawares, not knowing till then that I was there. We stood face to face for one awful second. Then hesitating, as if uncertain as to its next move, the ghost mysteriously glided back again, and withdrew from sight to where it had come from. It had completely vanished; the kitchen was empty. Where was I? Had I been asleep? Was it all a dream? No, I had not moved. There was the clock, there was the revolver on the floor, there was the daylight, and there was I, fully conscious of everything, so that it was all real and true.

Uttering a cry, I dashed through the swing door leading into the front hall, rushed up the front staircase, and stirred the whole household with shouts that I had seen a ghost. My mother and other members of the family came to know what the noise was about. By this time, I was in a very agitated and excited state caused by the shock, for I had experienced something beyond all belief and passed through a somewhat terrifying ordeal. Between my sobs I told of what had happened, and, gradually coming round, I gave them a more graphic account. They saw I was genuinely upset; and, while wanting to discredit my story, were anxious not to increase my distress by doing so. After a time, they went down to inspect the exact spot and make investigations, and try to prove to me there was nothing there. Of course there was not, and the kitchen, scullery, larder, and cellars, were all searched in vain to prove I was mistaken. There were no curtains, no draperies about, no shadows, no dark places; nothing in fact could be found to help the family in their argument. It was still daylight with the evening sun streaming through the windows.

 NOT MISTAKEN

I was not mistaken; there was nothing to be mistaken about, and the search was futile so far as I was concerned. What I had seen was as clear and definite as my own reflection in a mirror. My experience, however, was the sole topic of conversation for the rest of that night, and finally I went to bed, but could not sleep. I had seen something that was not of this world, and was worried to think I should never be able to explain it, never be able to make it real or believable to others. It had to be seen to be realised.

It was not long after all this happened that my father decided to sell the house, and we ultimately left it for another residence. And then it was that I was told something of which my own experience was a counterpart. It seemed that some two years previously, late one winter night, one of our maids had rushed from the kitchen, and through the same swing door, screaming she had seen a ghost, and went off into hysterics. Everyone had gone to bed except my father and mother, and they returned to the kitchen with the maid to prove the absurdity of her assertions. They declared such a suggestion was wholly preposterous, and so annoyed were they about it, that the maid was given notice to leave the following day and–leave the poor girl did, all for having seen a ghost! I had never been told of this incident, and it was not until after we had left the house that I heard of it. There is not the least doubt of course, it was the identical ghost that I saw two years later. And while my experience needs no support from outside sources–being beyond all doubt or dispute–the incident of the maid-servant doubly strengthens my story of the whole phenomenon.

And that is the end of my uncanny adventure, strictly true in every detail. I have seen a ghost just as definitely and assuredly as I write these lines. I can see it to-day as vividly as I did at the time; it is indelibly stamped upon my memory and consciousness. The experience became part of my conscious self or personality, and will remain part of it for all time.

And now for the sceptics, if any, and to answer possible queries of readers of this narrative. As a boy, I was perfectly normal in every way; I was mentally sound, I had no delusions, and had no foolish fads or fancies. I was certainly not imaginative, and had never even read a ghost story. To-day, as a man, I am a very normal sort of individual, plain and matter of fact, but a great and keen searcher after truth. Had it not been for the amazing occurrence just related, I am the type of person who would have laughed to scorn any idea of the possibility of seeing a ghost. But this incident completely altered my whole outlook from that day onwards, and at this juncture I am as certain and as matter-of-fact about this, as about anything that has been actually solid and substantial in my life.

In these days it is difficult to be certain about anything, but I am well convinced and satisfied beyond all doubt, about just three things. More than that, I am equally convinced about each. Those three things are:– (1) I have seen a ghost. (2) I am a living being. (3) I shall live again after death.

Light 14 July 1933: pp. 433-434

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil wishes she had a pound for every time she has heard of an hysterical servant being given notice after seeing a ghost. Still more does she wish that those servants sacked on such grounds could appeal their inequitable dismissals by bringing evidence to a labour tribunal that said premises were, in fact, haunted. Heavy damages would inevitably lie….

Mrs Daffodil has heard a story from that ghost-hunting person over at Haunted Ohio about a young woman who came home from school every day, only to be terrified by the heavy footsteps of a man walking upstairs and a “presence” looking into her room from the hall. She would flee the house in a panic, sometimes wedging herself between the screen door and the door, until her parents came home. When she grew up, she said something to her mother about the horror she had experienced. Her mother, who no longer lived in the house, said casually, “Oh, yes, we knew there was a ghost, but we didn’t want to tell you, so you wouldn’t be scared.”

After such a revelation, Mrs Daffodil would not have been surprised to hear of a matricide.

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.

Papa’s Curious Wedding Present: 1891

 

surprise soap

A Curious Wedding Present.

“There was a fine old gentlemen in this city, who from the humblest beginnings made his way steadily up to commercial fame and immense wealth, all by the manufacture of soap,” said a New-Yorker the other day, “and with all his wealth and prosperity, he never forgot how a poor man feels or lost any of his consideration for the rights of others. Pride never puffed him up, nor made him ashamed of his business or his early history.

”He was proud of the purity and excellence of his soap, and the secrets of his success over his rivals lay in the fact that he invented several processes for cheapening the manufacture of that article, and his great factory in this city was full of machinery of his own invention and manufacture. He made one ample fortune solely out of patenting the ideas of his fertile brain, and several others by selling the manufactures he was thus able to turn out.

“His wife was as intensely purse-proud as he was simple, though her origin was as simple as his own, and her daughter took after her. This child married well, as they say, that is, a young swell about town, proposed to her on account of the great wealth he knew she would inherit. When the engagement was settled the daughter and mother asked the old man what he was going to do in the way of setting the young people up in life.

“Here they ran up against an unexpected snag. The old boy would give nothing in the way of a dowry. He thought the bridegroom should support his wife unaided, till her father’s will gave her a share of his estate. The utmost he could be prevailed upon to do was to give his daughter a wedding present. What this would be he steadfastly refused to say just then. On the wedding day, however, his gift to the bride was the deed for a handsome house in a fashionable street, completely furnished in costly style from top to bottom.

“The bridal tour had all been arranged, so no stop was made by the happy pair to examine the new house. All through the honeymoon they talked of the pleasure they would have in going over the house, examining the pictures and plate and entertaining their friends in it. Great was the delight with which they entered their new home on their return. The carpets were velvet, the hangings of velvet and lace, the furniture hand-carved, the pictures old masters, the linen of the finest, and silverplate was everywhere, even in the kitchen.

“The bridegroom was delighted, but the bride’s cheeks were crimson, and her eyes flashed a fire that tears could not quench. Everywhere she looked she saw familiar objects that filled her with rage, snatching a silver salver from the table, she showed to her husband, engraved on it minutely but with elaborate detail, the representation of a bar of soap with her father’s well-known trademark on it.

“This queer crest was everywhere about the house, worked into carved furniture, woven into the linen and hangings, and even painted on the carriage and stamped on the harness which were presented with the house. It was the old man’s greatest pride, that trade-mark and what it stood for, but whether he had it put on his daughter’s things out of sheer simplicity of heart, or whether he intended it as a rebuke to her foolish pride I never found out.” N. Y. Tribune.

Idaho Statesman [Boise ID] 19 June 1891: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil does not believe in sheer simplicity of heart, particularly in wealthy soap magnates. The young lady was full of foolish pride and one expects that she sent the offending silver to the jeweller’s shop to rub out the crest (difficult to do with plate), called in carpenters to putty over the furniture motifs, and tipped the coachman to carelessly scratch the carriage panels with a hoof-cleaner.

No doubt her letter of thanks for the lavish and generous wedding-gift was a model of repressed emotions.

 

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.

 

How I Made My Husband Happy This Summer: 1912

 

how I made my husband happy

How I Made My Husband Happy This Summer

By MARION FAIRFAX (Mrs. [Tully] Marshall)

(Author and Playright [sic])

If you want to keep your husband happy in hot weather, give him those things to eat and drink that he likes, and that are good for him. You note the saving clause, “that are good for him.” If he like meats, let him have few of them and seldom, for however he clamors for them they are not good for him in hot weather. Don’t let him eat meat oftener than once a day, better two or three times a week. Meat heats the blood and fires the temper. If necessary for his welfare substitute for the things he likes the things that are good for him. But if you can combine them so much the better. You will have averted the day of wrath.

Husband will expect his alcoholic beverages in Summer as well as Winter, though he himself knows they add to the discomfort of hot weather. Wean him away from them by cooling drinks containing little or no alcohol. My husband I keep in good humor by serving on the veranda or in the dining room, according to our convenience, the following:

On a warm day this is delectable:

CUCUMBER LEMONADE.

Four lemons.

Four tablespoonfuls of sugar.

One cucumber.

Slice the cucumber lengthwise, keeping the rind on it. Rub these slices inside the pitcher, as an Italian cook rubs a dish with garlic before placing vegetables in it. Squeeze the juice of the lemons into the pitcher. Stir the sugar into the juice and pour in chilled, not ice, water to taste. The addition of the cucumber flavor adds distinctly to the deliciousness of the drink. If husband insists, add a dash of claret.

For a quaffing on a hot day this is incomparable.

Four lemons.

One pint of claret.

One teacupful sugar.

Mix the lemon juice and sugar as I before described. Add the claret and ice freely, and make strong or weak as desired.

mixing the mint julep

One of the most complete pictures of masculine good humor I ever saw was that of my father, a Southerner, making a mint julep. Perhaps you do not know that there are two schools of mint julep makers in the South, and that there are rival claims as fiercely contested as the seats of the 92 in the recent convention. One school contends that the mint should be spread over the top of the glass that the drinker may enjoy the full fragrance of the mint. The other school heatedly maintains that the mint should be crushed in the bottom of the glass, where it is mixed with the sugar and increases the pungent flavor of the drink, sacrificing the pleasures of the nose to those of the stomach. My father was an ardent follower of the crush school. He taught me to make the mint juleps in the way with which I regale Mr. Marshall, the one true way my father would say.

THE MINT JULEP.

One-half tumbler crushed ice.

One tablespoonful of sugar.

One large bunch of mint fresh from its bed

Crush the mint with the ice and sugar. Add the spirits to taste. Then fill the glass with the rest of the mint and ice.

I always keep a quantity of cold tea on hand in my Summer home. Cold tea is the best foundation for all the fruit punches. This can be easily prepared.

One large cup of mixed tea.

Juice of a large fresh lime.

One pound brown sugar.

One quart sherry.

Boil the lime juice and sugar together to form a syrup, flavoring them with a spoonful of any favorite preserves from your pantry. Remove from the stove. Pour in sherry and chopped ice.

If Mr. Marshall shows any warm weather testiness, he is quickly appeased by a pear salad.

PEAR SALAD.

I cut three large, ripe pears into narrow, lengthwise strips, sprinkle over them a dash of rum and serve with French dressing.

It is green corn time, and to me green corn is the backbone of the Summer edible season. Corn only has a really corny flavor if you have the water boiling on the stove when we go out to pull the ears. We bring them in and, leaving the husks on, shred the ear as well as we can of its silk tassels. The corn is thrust into the boiling water. The corn silk is spread over the top of the water. This keeps in the steam and none of the flavor of the corn is lost by evaporation. Literally it returns unto itself.

Two desserts are my husband’s summer favorites.

Into these I introduced fruit variants according to the season.

CHERRY PUDDING.

One egg.

One cup of milk.

Two cups of flour.

Two teaspoonfuls baking powder.

One cupful of cherries.

Beat the egg into the cup of milk. Mix with the flour the baking powder. Stir all these into a batter and add a pinch of salt. Stir in the cupful of cherries that have been pitted and well dredged with flour. This keeps them from sticking to the bottom of the pudding. Place it in a cooking mold and put into the fireless cooker with a hot dish above and below. Then go away to a picnic if you like. You can be gone for four hours and when you come home the pudding is done.

The St Louis [MO] Star and Times 1 September 1912: p. 20

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  While some readers may wish to try these receipts at home on their spouses, Mrs Daffodil will here issue a firm disclaimer that she takes no responsibility for ensuing injuries or divorces.

It is axiomatic, of course, that the husband must be kept in a constant state of good humour for the peace of the household and that it is the wife’s duty to ensure that he is happy.

[Brief pause for derisive laughter and/or outrage.]

It is true that some spouses (of both sexes) desire nothing more than the comfort and well-being of their opposite number. This policy, if voluntarily adopted, may lead to a happy and united home.

However, Mrs Daffodil is sceptical that the authoress really grasps her subject.  Not only does she treat her lord and master as a kind of “husband-baby*” who does not know what is good for him, she seems to have a positively archaic notion of diet and health: “Meat heats the blood and fires the temper” would seem not out of place in the scheme of Galenic medicine or at King Henry VIII’s court.  (Although it occurs to Mrs Daffodil that this capricious, meat-loving, claret-swilling husband has much in common with that irascible monarch.)

And, even as a working author, she is expected to serve up cooling drinks on the veranda in an immaculately pressed summer frock, as if she had done nothing else but pluck mint the entire day,  making soothing conversation to placate the over-heated husband, who only longs for a steak and a glass of something drinkable. In the illustration at the head of this article, he looks conspicuously inebriated. No doubt he insisted on extra claret.

Mrs Daffodil does not like to suggest that the authoress was writing a work of fiction, but a character in a novel who became wroth when denied meat and alcoholic stimulants, yet was easily appeased by a pear salad, would be declared by a majority of readers to be utterly implausible.  If, in fact, he was so appeased, either he had already had a substantial luncheon at his club, or a good deal of rum must have been surreptitiously applied to those pears, perhaps via a concealed flask.

Mrs Daffodil wonders how the author, one of the most distinguished playwrights in the United States and a woman who would a few years later start her own successful film production company, could write such perfect rot, but perhaps she was merely telling her audience what she thought they wanted to hear. Or the heat and the dash of claret may have gone to her head.

*The phrase is that of novelist Rosie M. Banks, a creation of P.G. Wodehouse.

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.

Flowers for Aristocratic Tables: 1889

The-End-Of-Dinner-by-Jules-Alexandre-Grun-770x506 Edwardian dinner party.jpg

FLOWERS FOR THE TABLE.

Costly Decorations Affected by the Aristocracy.

Nell Nelson’s Chat with the Lending Floral Firms.

“You newspaper women,” said the monarch of the Elliott Floral Company, “make us a lot of trouble with your extravagant pens and superlative adjectives. You write Mrs. A.’s $50 order away up, and when Mrs. B. comes in with the article and wants us to beat it for $500 we are nonplussed, for the description calls for $1,500 worth of flowers.

“Half the trouble in this world comes from distorted facts and the other half is the result of bad cooking. The dream of Bellamy will never be realized until truth becomes chronic and the product of the kitchen digestible.

“There is no leading style in flowers or floral decorations, and no standard but that of individual taste. People pick their plants and cut flowers as they do their clothes and furniture ”

“The moneyed people like roses and orchids; the artists love palms and ferns, and many women would rather have a bunch of mignonette than a basket of voluptuous Beauty roses–those crimson, living, almost human things that intoxicate the senses. “Just now we are in a blaze of beauty, a cloud of glory, a heaven of perfume, and you have only to choose and I’ll send you anything you want.

“Here is the ‘Magna Charta,’ the rival of the American Beauty; both the same price–$15 a dozen.

“Here’s white lilac–the poet’s own flower and smell–now close your eyes! Can’t you feel Spring in your heart? My aesthetic soul, but it’s good!

“How much? Six dollars a bunch and six sprays in a bunch. Rolled up in paraffine paper and boxed in cotton batting, 1 don’t know a nicer bit of fragrance for a New Year’s offering. Do you?”

I said I didn’t.

“You see, the man or the woman who sends a flower to a friend wraps himself eternally in its perfume and wherever the breath of that blossom is caught, up he comes in face and form and voice, or the woman has no soul—that’s all.

“I once had the measles when I was in aprons,” the horticulturalist confided to me; “and while I was sick a little girl sent me an apple to smell, but not to eat.

” I can smell that rosy piece of fruit now, and I never pass a greening or a russet or a pippin that I do not see the wee maiden in fancy and bless her dear little heart. That’s the sentiment of it, but here’s the business.

“Flowers are abundant, but the demand amounts to a real tax, and prices are high as ambition.

“We never mix flowers. We don’t believe in it. There is as much individuality about blossoms as there is about belles, and so we arrange them, not in tulle and pearls, but in the very severest of vases, so as not to let the holder detract from the bouquet.

“We are daring enough, too, to put pearl roses in pearl cups, golden tulips in primrose-yellow bowls, and crimson roses in ruby forms–a privilege we have been encouraged to take with chromatics, by the audacity of Alma Tadema, Whistler and Burne Jones.

“We never build a table piece as high as the line of vision, and not even a child’s view across a dinner-table is obstructed. Orchids, roses, tightly bound hyacinths, spicy carnations, sweet-scented tulips and the dainty ma capucine buds, which are salmon-like in color, are all in demand for table decoration, and an art committee would be puzzled to tell which is choicest.

“About the biggest order we have filled this year came from the Union League Club fellows the night they entertained the Pan-American Society.

“There were flowers everywhere but under foot and in the air. We hung the little theatre with foliage tapestry, banked the stage with the glossiest and greenest of palms, and fringed the footlights with asparagus and mosses, that caressed a ridge of growing orchids.

“In the library there are six large tables niched between bookcases, and we piled the files and folios under the boards and on zinc covers planted the choicest flowers that the state afforded.

“One table was a solid bed of cut orchids, fringed with ferns, that cost us $600 to spread; another oblong had nothing but American Beauties for a cushion, and each rose was worth $1.75 that night; another was upholstered with pink, white and damask cyclamen, and roses, violets and carnations embossed the remaining boards. “The bookcases in the room are all low, and we used them for a bank of encircling palms, at the feet of which we planted wired and fantastic orchids that seemed almost human in the pale candle-light. “The supper was served in a suit of three rooms, and each board had a different flower piece. One was a massive rose cluster, the second was a rose piece with a streak of white narcissus running through it, and I can’t remember the other.

“At the Delmonico banquet, prepared for the same tourists, we put Summer on the table and festooned the balconies with her garlands and hanging plants, and pendent from the celling we hung a great globe of laurel, orange, lemon verbena and sweet-brier, with Central America picked out in true geographic position with closely stemmed cluster flowers. At this point a Van Rensselaer came in, and in a low rich contralto voice, with a pronounced English accent, asked for white violets, and I fled.

Dunder, who grows the roses that belong in the bowers of the Four Hundred, sighed when asked to name the ideal table decorations. “The best way to answer that is to show you my book. Here’s an order for to-night. The lady gives a dinner party for which she will use a solid gold service.

“There is a towering epergne to go in the centre of the table, and in it I will put orchids of delicate lavender and pure white, with the queen of ferns for relief.

“Strings of asparagus will be trailed along the cloth and carried up to the arms of the candelabra.

“Mrs. W. D. Sloane’s dinner tables are always decorated with American Beauties. That’s her favorite flower. Saturday night I sent her a flat basket, six feet in diameter, planted with those roses. The cluster was as big as a rose bush.

“Over the white cloth we scattered sprays, three feet long, with blossoms as large as cauliflowers and turned them so that the gorgeous flower threw the splendor of their color and perfume in the very faces of the guest.

“The prettiest novelty for a table was, in my mind, an order we filled for one of the white dinners for which Mrs. William Baylis is famous. With her while porcelain and satin polished silver, we used Puritan roses, the finest white flower cultivated.

“In the corners of the mahogany were small English egg-baskets of split willow, filled with lilies of the valley, and about the cloth were mats of mistletoe, heavy with their opaque berries. Those egg baskets are very fetchy. They are rude, you see, and have the appearance, when filled, of being just sent in by some friend.  “Pertinent to the season are the scarlet baskets, which we have sold by the thousand. Some we fill with English holly, some with crimson tulips, others with point sette leaves and a few with carnations and mistletoe.”

A call came over the telephone from no less a personage than Mr. Ward McAllister, and I was alone.

From a good-natured belle who has been in social circulation for several decades I learned that each leader has a flower to which she is as devoted as she is to a special perfume or grade of linen.

Mrs. W. W. Astor uses American Beauties at all her dinners. So does Mrs. Frederick Vanderbilt. Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt prefers Gloria de Paris roses; Mrs. Elliott F. Shepard considers the La France the queen of roses; Mrs. Orme Wilson cheerfully pays $2 apiece for Magna Charta roses, and has from twenty to seventy on her table at a time.

Mrs. Ex-Secretary Whitney has a weakness for white and gold, and pearls. Puritans, Nun Hoste and Gabriel Luizet alternate in her dining parlor, while Mrs. Paran Stevens delights in Spring flowers and buys tulips, narcissi, daisies, May bells and hyacinths by the hamper.

The regulation flower for the bridal board is the Amazon lily, a peerless cup-shaped blossom that seems pouring its soul out in floods of perfume.

This lily is new, and like all rare things costly. For the price of a bowlful of Amazons you might have Dickens in calf, a Persian wool bath robe or roast young goose every day for a whole week, with a peck of apple sauce besides. Nell Nelson.

The Evening World [New York NY] 30 December 1889: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Fashions in flowers were followed as avidly as the latest modes from Paris. Mrs Daffodil has written about A Violet Luncheon, Flowers a Bride Should Carry, Modern Valentine Flowers, The Black Rose, and The Wild-Flower Wedding.

This Parisienne instructed her guests to arrange DIY centrepieces for a prize–a novelty both indolent and presumptuous, one feels. One can practically hear the waspish, postprandial comments from the departing guests.

Something new in table decoration is the creation of a Paris society woman. At a dinner given recently the guests were surprised to find the centre of the table piled high with a mass of cut flowers, including many varieties of roses, lilies of the valley, chrysanthemums, carnations, violets, ferns, smilax, etc. At each plate were placed three red, white and blue vases made of bohemian glass, each in a solid colour. Upon a raised tabourette in the centre of the table was a huge cut glass rose bowl which the hostess announced was to be given to the guest arranging the flowers in his or her three vases most artistically. Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 10 November 1899: p. 11

Mrs Daffodil has made an annual ritual of sharing Saki’s “The Occasional Garden” in advance of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, opening this coming week.

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 Best-Natured Woman in the United States: 1882

sleeping it off drunkard British Library

Sleeping It Off. British Library

An Angel Unalloyed.

The best natured woman in the United States lives in Austin. She has been married a number of years to a man named Ferguson, but she and her husband have never had a quarrel yet, and lie has frequently boasted that it was utterly impossible to make her angry. Ferguson made several desperate attempts to see if he could not exasperate her to look cross or scowl at him, merely to gratify his curiosity, but the more outrageous he acted, the more affable and loving she behaved.

Last week he was talking with, a friend about what a hard time he had trying to find out if his wife had a temper. The friend offered to bet that if Ferguson were to go home drunk, raise a row and pull the tablecloth full of dishes off the table, she would show some signs of annoyance. Ferguson said he didn’t want to rob a friend of his money, for he knew he would win; but they at last made a bet of $50, the friend to hide in the front yard and watch the proceedings of the convention through the window.

Ferguson came home late, and, apparently, fighting drunk. She met him at the gate, kissed him, and assisted his tottering steps to the house. He sat down in the middle of the floor, and howled out: “Confound yer ugly picture, what did you mean by pulling that chair, from under me?”

“O, I hope you did not hurt yourself. It is my awkwardness, but I’ll try and not do it again,” and helped him to his feet, although she had nothing in the world to do with his falling.

He then sat down on the sofa, and, sliding off on the floor, abused her like a pickpocket for lifting up the other end of the sofa, all of which she took good naturedly, and finally she led him to the supper table. He threw a plate at her, but she acted as if she had not noticed it, and asked him if he would take tea or coffee.

Then the brute seized the table cloth and sat down on the floor, pulling the dishes and everything else over with him, in one grand crash.

What did this noble woman do? Do you suppose she grumbled and talked about going home to her ma, or that she sat down and cried like a fool, or that she sulked and pouted? Not a bit of it. With a pleasant smile she said:

“Why, George, that’s a new idea, isn’t it? We have been married ten years and have never yet ate our supper on the floor. Won’t it be fun—just like those picnics we used to go to before we got married?” and then this angelic woman deliberately sat down on the floor along side of the wretch, arranged the dishes and fixed him a nice supper.

This broke George all up. He owned up he was only fooling her, and offered to give her the $50 to get herself a new hat, but she took the money and bought him a new suit of clothes and a box of cigars. Heaven will have to be repaired and whitewashed before it is fit for that kind of a woman.—Galveston News.

Bennington [VT] Banner 7 September 1882: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil is filled with admiration for the patience and forbearance of the sorely-tried Mrs Ferguson. It is always prudent for a wife to be meek and smiling and endlessly agreeable to her Lord and Master, as it will eliminate her as a suspect when the drunken brute is poisoned by a particularly nice pie.

 

 

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.

Hints for Earth Day Economies: 1859-1903

Although Monday was, Mrs Daffodil is reliably informed,  “Earth Day,” a time to take stock of how we use the resources of the planet, there is never a bad day to reflect on consumption and its consequences. There has been a societal move against “fast fashion” and a resurgence of “Make Do and Mend.”  Mrs Daffodil will, therefore, “recycle” several posts on the subject of domestic economy in dress, on the clever makers-over of tired garments, and the second-hand clothing trade.

One would go far before one would discover a more ingenious clan than these Southern Ohio ladies and their cunning tricks of skillful fingers.

Although this lady, who traded in second-hand silks and this gentleman, who prospered in left-over laundry, are an inspiration to all of us.

Some clever gentlemen took a leaf from the ladies’ domestic economy books and learned to update and repair their wardrobes.

A fascinating tour of a 19th-century “recycling” firm and an examination of the “rag trade.”

The second-hand trade was a boon to actresses, and the buying, selling, and hiring of costly gowns worn by the Four Hundred, was a practice well-known to the upper echelons of Society.

The second-hand clothing trade extended even unto royalty, as we see in this peep at Queen Victoria’s stockings.

One of Mrs Daffodil’s heroines is this resourceful lady, who set herself up as a “Dress Doctor,” long before Hollywood costumer Edith Head co-opted that title.

Of course, selling one’s evening dresses involve some unwitting “recycling,” as this lady found to her dismay:

Not long ago (write “X and Z” in the Globe) a lady in dealing with the proprietress of a second-hand clothing business, sold to her several evening dresses, which were perfectly fresh and good, but which she could not wear again, as her friends knew them too well. They had probably been worn three times each. The second-hand wardrobe lady remarked, by the way, that all her purchases were for the colonies. Seems odd, does it not? But to return. A few days after the gowns were sold their original owner missed a very pretty old-fashioned diamond clasp, and, inquiring of her maid, discovered to her tribulation that it was in one of the evening dresses she had sold. “Sewn firm on the left shoulder, my lady,” quoth the maid. She proceeded diplomatically to work, sent the maid to the shop, and, in consequence of her operations there, became again the possessor of her discarded gown at exactly seven times the price she had sold it for. The diamond clasp was still in it, its safety being due to proximity to a mass of crystal trimming which formed an epaulette, the clasp having been added with a view to making the whole mass look “good.”

Otago Witness 9 February 1893: p. 42

 

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.