Tag Archives: Mother’s Day

Mrs Daffodil’s Mothers Day Greeting


For her readers in the United States, Mrs Daffodil wishes all fond Mamas the very happiest of days!

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.

A King’s Foster-Mother: 1910

Mrs Ann Roberts King George V nurse


Foster Mother of George V Living in Dire Poverty.


Hopes Sovereign She Mothered Will Provide for Her.


Daughter Died While She Was in Attendance on Great Britain’s Future Ruler.


 Is Living in Poverty.

Special Dispatch to The Star.

PITTSBURG. Pa., September 10. Mrs Ann Roberts, foster-mother of George V, King of England, has been discovered in poverty here. Mrs. Roberts lost one of her own babes through her attendance upon the infant prince. The royal physicians and retainers would not inform her of own child’s Illness for fear the milk with which she was nourishing the future King of England might become feverish and do him harm. Mrs. Roberts at the suggestion of friends, is writing the English sovereign of her condition and asking some recognition at his hands for what she did for him as an infant. Mrs. Roberts Is the mother of Capt. Henry A. Roberts of the Volunteers of America. She is a native of Wales. She has been living for the past several years with her brother, Richard W. Edmunds of Nunnery Hill, North Side. She was a member of the royal household of Great Britain for ten months and three days. Her own child died in the night without her knowing that she had even been ill. Mrs. Roberts is the only woman in the world who ever nursed the King of England,  including his own mother.

Husband a Tradesman.

Mrs. Roberts went from Bethesda, North Wales, when quite a young girl to seek service in London. She was eventually married there. Her husband was a respectable tradesman, residing close to Buckingham Palace. They were happy and prospered. Among their friends were some of the most influential Welsh people in London. Among these was a Mrs. Jones, then of 20 Hills street. Knightsbridge, also a Welsh woman. Mrs. Jones was a great favorite with the late Queen Victoria, under whom she held authority to select and engage all the domestics for the royal nursery. Mrs. Roberts was then a comely young matron, of splendid physique, and in the enjoyment of perfect health and a robust constitution, which had been developed while romping as a girl over the rock-bound and heather-clad hills of her native Wales.

Mrs. Roberts was at that time about to become a mother. She knew, as did all Britain, that the then Princess Alexandra had similar expectations. Mrs Roberts had a dream in which it appeared to her that she had been selected to nurse the expected child of royalty. Within a day or two thereafter, not then knowing the full extent of Mrs. Jones’ authority, Mrs. Roberts called on her and related her strange dream, and told her also of her seemingly impossible ambition. The surprise of Mrs. Roberts may be imagined when Mrs. Jones informed her that if it was her wish she would then and there appoint her to the position, provided, of course, that the royal physicians approved of her choice.

Passed by Royal Physician.

After the birth of her child, a beautiful girl baby. Mrs. Roberts was ordered by a royal messenger to call on Dr. Farr, one of the royal physicians, in Harley street. Mayfair, who, after a thorough examination and many questions as to family history, pronounced Mrs. Roberts to be in every way fitting to become the foster mother of a royal prince. Mrs. Roberts then applied for permission to spend a few days at her old home in Bethesda, in order that she might see her brothers and sisters and visit the graves of her parents. She had intended to leave for Wales the last day of May, 1865, but becoming uneasy lest her services might suddenly be called for, she hesitated, changed her mind, and finally abandoned the trip.

“It was well that I did so,” said Mrs. Roberts, relating the strange story of her entrance upon royal service, “for on the night of June couriers were sent to Bethesda to fetch me at once. Mounted messengers scoured the hills around my old home all of that night in search of me. My people in Wales, who knew nothing of my appointment, were thrown into consternation and terror. Royal couriers implied nothing but terror to them. They probably concluded that their poor Ann had committed some terrible crime.

“All of this time I had remained in London, and the city bulletins had informed me of the state of affairs I reported for duty at 10 o’clock on the morning of June and began immediately to nurse and to mother the little baby prince, George. I had left my own child in the care of an older sister, who was to manage the household and dairy business for my husband while I was away. A few days after my departure my own baby was taken ill. It pined for its mother, but I was not acquainted with the fact. One of the doctors of the royal household called to see her each day. The child died on the eighth day without my even knowing that she had been ill.

Blow a Cruel One.

“I will never forget the hour that I was told that my beautiful child was dead. The cruel news brought me to my knees on the floor of the royal nursery. The splendor of my surroundings appeared to me as so much dross. It seemed to me that I had been turned into a block of cold marble. The loss of my own beautiful child had that effect upon me regarding the little prince that I soon grew almost to believe that he was truly my own child. I was kept in this position just about one year. When my services were no longer required King Edward, then Prince of Wales, sent for me from the nursery to tell me that I had not only won his own esteem, but that of his beautiful Alexandra, and that I was also esteemed and respected by the royal household.

“When I arrived in my own home once more, after nearly a whole year of absence, it was to find that fortune had withdrawn her smiles and that my husband’s business had been ruined. A cattle disease, then raging, had killed nearly all of our good cows, and every penny that we had saved during our time of prospering had been expended in a vain attempt to stem the disastrous flood. On the very afternoon that I arrived a butcher delegated from the cattle commissioners also arrived to kill the last two remaining cows of what had been an excellent dairy. These appalling conditions at home caused me to decide at once to take up nursing as a profession. I immediately arranged to lay out the money I earned In the royal service in a course of nursing and midwifery. In due time I won my diploma in both branches, and nursed among the noble and the great of Great Britain for thirty-five years.”

Nursed Many Notables.

Mrs. Roberts’ old friend, Mrs. Jones, was again able to help her by securing for her the appointment to nurse and foster the first born of the Princess Christian, at Cumberland Lodge. Windsor. Windsor. The popularity of Mrs. Roberts was at once securely established through her connection with the royal nursery. In the years that followed she nursed the Duchess of Abercorn. the Duchess of Iniskillen, the Countess Lutzow, Lady Vivian (now Lady Swansea), the Lady Church and many other among the noble dames of Britain. She has served at Windsor Castle, where to Welsh people of a few centuries ago entrance was far easier than exit; at Marlborough House, Balmoral Castle. Buckingham Palace, Osbourne, Osbourne, Sandringham and Cumberland Lodge in the discharge of her professional duties.

After this long tenure of service Mrs. Roberts at last became so deaf that she did not feel longer competent for the work and declined to take on any new cases. She was then appointed to the Royal Maternities Charities Society, an institution organised by the then Princess Alexandra, now the beloved Dowager Queen of England, and controlled by her and a committee of London ladies. This position Mrs. Roberts held for several years, when, owing to her advanced age and the dangers and hardships of obeying calls In the poorer districts of London at all hours of the night, she resigned of her own accord, the secretary saying to her that she was leaving with an exceptional record of success and that her name should always remain on the roll call of the society. It is a source of great pleasure to Mrs. Roberts now to know that her name remains living and green in the heart of the field wherein she laboured so long and so diligently.

Longs for Native Land.

“Your United States is a great country,”  continued Mrs. Roberts, “but, after all, you will not blame me when I say that I prefer my native land, and it seems to me that there should be a place for me over there. I cannot feel as my brother does here. He has been here for many years: his children have grown up here, and his family and all of his ties are here. But my heart is over there, where now reigns the young prince whom I nursed. Were I over there now I would be entitled to the old folks’ pension, but don’t you think she who nursed the reigning king is entitled to something more than such a pittance? You have possibly read how truly noble and generous the young King of Spain is acting toward his old nurse. He provides for her every comfort, and she is made much of by court and people. Do you think my Prince George would do less for his old nurse? I refuse to believe it.”

Mrs. Roberts wears a heavy gold brooch that was personally presented to her by the then Princess Alexandra upon the occasion of her leaving the royal nursery. The princess told hereupon that occasion that she would be privileged to refer to the little prince, now king as “my boy.” King Edward, then Prince of Wales, presented her at the same time with a heavy gold watch, which she also now has. There is an Inscription on the inside of the back cover which reads: “To Mrs. Roberts, in remembrance of H. R. H. Prince George.”

Has Brooch From Victoria.

She also has another brooch, presented to her by the late Queen Victoria upon the christening of Prince George. On being called to Osborne on another occasion Mrs. Roberts was presented by the queen with two beautiful photographs, with her signature, one of herself and one of the deceased prince consort, informing her at the same time that they were the best photos ever taken of both. These Mrs. Roberts left with a relative on the other side. She says that as poor as she is their weight in gold would not buy them. She did not care to subject them to the hazards of travel. Mrs. Roberts states that when Sir Arthur Bigge is appointed keeper of the privy purse she intends to appeal to him for a statement of her case to the king. She believes that Sir Dighton Probyn, who held this position under the late lamented King Edward, would never allow her protests and supplications to reach his royal master. Mrs. Roberts believes that if her petitions had been presented some action would have been taken on her case long ago. She claims to have some of Sir Probyn’s official letters now in her possession, possession, in which he is alleged to state that nothing could be done for her. Mrs. Roberts gives it as her belief that these are solely the words of a mercenary. She says that King Edward had ever a kind and grateful heart, and was always good to old servitors.

Faith in Lloyd George.

“I have served in Sir Arthur Bigge’s family,” Mrs. Roberts states. “He knows me, and I am sure he will desire to help me. The Right Hon. Lloyd George would also interfere in my behalf if I appealed to him. The greatest Welshman of us all would not suffer an old country woman who has served the same crown for which he labors so energetically to be utterly disregarded. There is only one burden to my poor old soul: I want to go back to spend my few remaining years in my native land, and to be allowed to go to my long rest in that sacred old .spot where my father sleeps.”

Mrs. Roberts was treated with every consideration by the royal household. She was several times invited upon the royal carpet. She enjoyed many pleasant chats with the late Queen Victoria. Sometimes, upon receiving Welsh newspapers, newspapers, the queen would send for her from the nursery and request her to read selections from them and to translate them. She would ask Mrs. Roberts to pronounce some Welsh words and sayings, and she would utter them after her, doing it far better. Mrs. Roberts says, than some of the young Welsh Americans whom she has met since being in this country.

Mrs. Roberts saw the queen in her grief for her beloved prince consort. On one occasion she invited Mrs. Roberts to visit the grand mausoleum wherein rests his remains. She gave Mrs. Roberts the golden key which opens the door thereto, and sent her head dresser to accompany her, graciously saying that she would meet her there at a certain time. Mrs. Roberts says she will never forget the hour she spent there with the widowed queen and the mortal remains of the consort and husband whom she had loved so deeply.

Has Met Other Royalties.

“I have been formally presented to the Empress Frederick, mother of the present Emperor of Germany, and also the Grand Duchess of Hess.” continued Mrs. Roberts. Roberts. “and I have many times attended the different ladies of the family to their balls and parties. These royal ladies know very well how to show little marks of esteem to favorite servants. I have had them more than once hand their fans to me to hold while their own ladies in waiting would be at their elbows, and, to their credit be it said. I never saw any of these ladies in waiting evince any sign of displeasure at such marked favors.

“All of Victoria’s children, with the possible exception of Princess Beatrice, were very affable and chatty with servants and dependents. The Princess Beatrice (the youngest) was brought up under somewhat different surroundings from the others. Her good father was taken sick while she was yet a child in arms, and she grew up to be the daily companion of her sorrowing mother. This, I always thought, was the reason for her being more reserved and distant than the other children.

“When I was nursing the Duchess of Abercorn the Princess Alexandra came in person to call on her friend, and was surprised and pleased to find me in attendance. It was our first meeting since my departure from her service. She greeted me warmly and shook hands with me, as would any good woman, and made inquiries as to how I was getting along. I was also all impatience to ask questions regarding the little prince and was tempted to tell her how much I should like to see him. I knew he was by this time quite a boy, big enough to romp and play with his elder brother, Prince Albert Victor.

Paid Visit by Prince.

“On leaving the princess called for me and told me that, if such was my wish, she would arrange with the Canon Dalton, then tutor to the princes, for him to accompany them on an afternoon visit to me in a day or two. They came, and I had my hands full for that afternoon. They romped and blew soap bubbles, as would any pair of ordinary healthy boys, and both had a splendid time, untrammelled by court etiquette and unwatched by tutors.

“The late Prince Albert Victor once asked his royal mother why Prince George was ‘my boy’ any more than himself. He was answered that he would be told when he became a man, and that he was to understand that Mrs. Roberts was his dear friend also, and that she had been very good to him. “When Prince George was elected chancellor of the University of Wales, at Bangor, he caused his private secretary, Sir Arthur Bigge, to send me a letter of invitation to attend the celebration. I had at that time a very important and serious case of nursing on my hands, and so sent my son to represent me. I have always regretted that I was unable to attend, for I lost there an opportunity of meeting the boy whom I love so well.

Welsh Expect Great Things.

“Have you ever stopped to think that the Welsh people have a right to expect great things from the new king? There never was a better time than the present to agitate the question of securing the representation of Wales on the national flag. I firmly believe that he suckled my own love of kin and country with his sustenance. One of the royal doctors told me at one time, when speaking of the honor connected with my distinction, that he never was quite sure which one of us was the most honored. ‘But.’ said he, with a twinkle in his eye, “let us hope that your boy will prove a good and wise man, and that he will inherit the good traits of his Welsh foster mother.’

“The doctor was an old man at that time, and a wise and good one, but at that time it was not for him or myself to see that Prince George, who was the second in ‘advance right’ claim, would ascend the throne. But since the death of his elder brother I have often found myself repeating the old doctor’s words, ‘Let us hope that he will be a good man and a wise one.’

“Often, while holding him in my arms, and thinking of the beautiful child I had sacrificed for him, I would wonder over the possibility of his succeeding to the throne, and would pray God to bless him with a kind and loving heart, so that, when the time came, if fate ordained it so, he would prove a tower of strength and a blessing, not only to his own subjects, subjects, but to the wide, wide world. His, wise and great father, and his saintly grandmother have already given us proof what England’s monarchs can do for the welfare of the world, and I feel like prophesying that King George will follow in their footsteps, with the good of mankind in its entirety as the motive principle of his actions. May God bless him.”

Evening Star [Washing DC] 11 September 1910: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Roberts is a good deal more charitable to her former employers than Mrs Daffodil would have been. Gold brooches and watches, no matter how heavy or suitably inscribed, are, indeed, dross, when it comes to the death of Mrs Robert’s daughter and the doctors’ odious decision (based on the mistaken belief in “maternal influence”) not to tell Mrs Roberts that the tiny infant was ill and pining for her mother. It is possible that the child was ill with a disease untreatable at the time, such as diphtheria, even had her mother been able to nourish her, but at least Mrs Roberts would have been there to hold the child in her last moments. For the Royal physicians, the phrase “special place in Hell” springs to mind.

In the interests of space, Mrs Daffodil will omit her trenchant remarks on the “favour” shown to Mrs Roberts by the ladies who condescended to hand her their fans to hold.

Captain Henry Roberts, Mrs Roberts’s son was incensed at the headlines about Mrs. Roberts living in poverty and issued a corrective statement:

“I was absolutely dumbfounded at receiving a clipping from some Rochester papers saying that Mrs. Ann Roberts, royal nurse, was found here in poverty…As to her being in poverty, she has always paid her own expenses, and has jewels and other gifts to her from royalty. Immediatley upon her arrival here she deposited a good sum of money and jewels in my care until she needs them. In fact, she wants us to purchase some property and make a permant home here, but we decline to do that, as she is very fond of old England and often speaks of returning there after a while.”

He stated that he gave the true version of the story to an editor who interviewed his mother, but that “distortions of the facts have since appeared in several papers.” Democrat and Chronicle [Rochester NY] 8 July 1910: p. 15

Still, Mrs Roberts’s story did come to the eye of the proper authorities and her story has something of a happy ending:

A few weeks ago Mrs. Roberts sailed again for England, and upon her arrival at London she was called upon by a representative of King George, who stated, that he had been sent to learn what could be done for her comfort. She informed him that it was her desire to have a little home of her own among the hills of her own native Wales, in Carnavonshire, and preferably on the Penrhyn estate. Lord Penrhyn was instructed to find a cottage for this purpose and to have it fitted up with all the necessary comforts and she was also told that a substantial annuity was to be settled on her. Word has already been received by her relatives in this country that Mrs. Roberts is comfortably provided for for her remaining years. Bennington [VT] Banner 13 December 1910: p. 2

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.

A Baby Saves Its Mother: 1873

victorian mother

A Baby Proves its Mother’s Innocence

[Paris Correspondence London Paper.]

A poor, pale, wan seamstress was arrested for theft. She appeared at the bar with a baby of eleven or twelve months in her arms, her child. She went to get work one day, and stole three gold coins of 10 f. each. The money was missed soon after she left her employer, and the servant was sent to her rooms to claim it. The servant found her about to quit her rooms with the three gold coins in her hand. She said to the servant, “I was going to carry them back to you.” Nevertheless she was carried to the Commissioner of Police and he ordered her to be sent before the Police Court, for trial. She was too poor to engage a lawyer, and when asked by the Judge what she had to say for herself, she answered: ‘The day I went to my employer’s, I carried my child with me. It was in my arms as it is now. I was not paying attention to it. There were several gold coins on the mantelpiece, and unknown to me it stretched out its little hand, and seized three pieces, which I did not observe until I got home. I at once put on my bonnet, and was going back to my employer to return them, when I was arrested. This is the solemn truth, as I hope for Heaven’s mercy.’

“The court could not believe this story. They upbraided the mother for her impudence in endeavoring to palm off such a manifest lie for the truth. They besought her for her own sake to retract so absurd a tale, for it could have no effect, but oblige the court to sentence her to a much severer punishment than they were disposed to inflict upon one so young and evidently steeped so deep in poverty. These appeals had no effect, except to strengthen the poor mother’s pertinacious adherence to her original story. As this firmness was sustained by that look of innocence which the most adroit criminal can never counterfeit, the court were at some loss to discover what decision justice demanded. To relieve their embarrassment, one of the judges proposed to renew the scene described by the mother. Three gold coins were placed on the clerk’s table. The mother was requested to assume the position in which she said she stood at her employer’s house. There was then a breathless pause in court. The baby soon discovered the bright coin, eyed it for a moment, smiled, and then stretched forth its tiny hand and clutched them in its fingers with a miser’s eagerness. The mother was acquitted.” The Dayspring, Vol. 2, 1873

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The little creature in the story above illustrates the trials of motherhood; only in this case, the “trial” was a literal one. Those tiny fingers, so adorably small; so fiendishly quick….

Mrs Daffodil could, if she wished, give examples that contradict the notion that an adroit criminal can never counterfeit that “look of innocence,” but never mind. One is never quite certain about statutes of limitation….

Mrs Daffodil wishes all of the mothers in her readership the happiest of days and the most amiable of children.

See these previous posts on baby books and royal mothers in the nursery.

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 Enfants Terribles of New York: 1891

Miss Cara Burch, John Singer Sargent

Miss Cara Burch, John Singer Sargent


“Van Gryse ” describes the Child of Rich but Stupid Parents.

Probably the most desperately spoiled children in the length and breadth of North America are to be found in New York. Enfants terribles are as numerous here as the sands of the sea-shore. Dreadful, clever, impossible children, with reasoning minds and brains stored with questions, are to be found as thickly flourishing as dudes, and summer girls, and tennis-playing cranks, and the other strange birds one sees when one has no gun. Sarah Walker, in Bret Harte’s story, is no exaggeration. Any one who has ever frequented a summer hotel has been martyrized by the Sarah Walkers of the piazza, the corridor, the dining-room, and the parlor.

The Sarah Walker variety is not the child of poor but honest parents, but the child of rich but stupid parents.  She belongs to the new rich. If you remember, in the story she developed into a woman of great beauty, great brain, and greater desire to rule every one within her reach, and “run things” to suit herself. One has a glimpse of her, standing before her glass, pinning up her wonderful red hair and berating her feeble prince, who sits meekly by and dares not say her nay.

The little Sarah Walkers of the hotels may meet with such a dazzling fate as hers, may marry obedient and adoring princes, and turn out credits to the republic. At present, however, they are in the stage of long silk stockings and very short and fleecy skirts, floating hair crimped out into a golden bush, and wide leghorn hats flapping under wreaths of flowers.

They have costumes by the dozens — boxes full of wonderful white lace and muslin finery, bought at expensive places, for dizzying prices. They have their Sunday and their weekday hats. They have their little gloves, into which patient maids squeeze their fat and pudgy fists, and their tiny patent-leather slippers for dancing. Fashion has mercifully ordained that they shall never wear jewelry, and though their mother is inclined to observe “that there ain’t no flies on this hotel,” and in her heart has doubts as to whether Shakespeare wrote “Lord Chumley,” she has mastered the decrees of fashion from Alpha to Omega, and her little Sarah Walker is as perfectly dressed as any little Sarah Walker in Gotham.

The parents of these preternaturally acute infants are almost invariably wealthy, and quite as invariably, too, have made their money all of a sudden. From a dingy flat across town they suddenly find themselves quite capable of maintaining a fine establishment on one of the choicer avenues.

From Mother Hubbards and curl-papers, mamma can pass to the most expensive of frisettes and the prettiest confections of up-town modistes. The baby — the only baby and already a strangely precocious darling — can be beautiful as one of the lilies of the field. It can have a maid all of its own, a carriage lined with silk, a silver bowl and spoon, a crib of lace and down, and cut those esoteric mysteries known as “stomach teeth” upon a solid gold and coral ring.

When the baby begins to get over the baby stage, it shows symptoms of being very — unhappily — “cute.” Its parents sit round and listen in amaze at the words of wisdom that fall from its lips. Its witticisms convulse them; when it gets a little older, its corrections and criticisms will alarm them. But never, to their thinking, was there such a child. They adore it and satisfy its every whim. What better use can their money be put to than buying finery and presents for this little lamb? So the little lamb, as is the way with lambs, little and big, clamors for everything it sees. At dinner, it sits in its own high-chair, and, pounding on the table with its spoon, demands for its amusement, sometimes father’s watch, sometimes the gravy-boat, in which it paddles, with great and unctuous pleasure, sometimes the centre-piece of roses, or the crystal dish of salted almonds. When it goes out walking, it shrieks for things it sees in shop-windows. If the desired objects are not immediately purchased, it lies down in its tracks and shrieks and kicks until they are.

Every summer the baby goes to a summer hotel and meets other babies of its own kind, and conferences with these leave it exceeding wise, with an almost serpentine wisdom. The baby has eyes and sees, ears has it and hears. At eight years of age, it has used its eyes to such advantage that it seriously informs its mamma that her frisette is not of the kind usually wom. Already mamma has grown so used to giving in to the baby, and deeming its words the words of the female Solomon of modern history, that she meekly accepts the correction, and, when in town, buys a frisette of the style the baby recommends. In fact, in the course of the next few years, the baby develops with such lightning-like rapidity, and also can make itself so enormously unpleasant if its suggestions are not followed, that its mamma not only obeys it, but asks its advice on all matters — social, intellectual, and domestic.

A year or two at a day-school, where all the other babies go, send the baby shooting up, far, far past the ken of either of its parents, both of whom, still meekly adoring, are beginning to have their adoration tempered with a modicum of uneasy fear. They are both a little bit frightened of the baby and dread her austere and unanswerable corrections of their conduct. When the baby, extremely put out, tells mamma that on no consideration must she sign her letters “Mrs. John Jones,” mamma, nervously ill-at-ease, can think of nothing to say in justification of this fondly adhered to custom. Whatever she says in its defense, she knows the baby will meet with the calm rejoinder:

“Well, now, mamma, because you have done it all your life is no proof that it is right. In fact, from what I know of you, I think it is rather a proof that it is wrong!”

And so, at twelve, the baby rules the house, the people in it, and her own life. She is pretty, with the fine beauty that her father and mother dote on and that has surprised foreigners with its delicacy and finish. She is an astoundingly clever girl, and will grow cleverer all the time. She has a good deal of affection for her parents, and treats them with a sort of contemptuous good-nature as two stupid, harmless, tractable creatures that she must take care of and steer clear of snags. She is very hard-headed, shrewd, and calculating, exceedingly self-confident, daring, and courageous. She will make her own life in a sort of a dashing, brilliant fashion, always live in the world before the eyes of an admiring throng, be a light in gay society, and every day, as she advances in years, grow more selfish, more determined, more willful and arrogant.

This is the baby of the summer hotel, of the silly new rich, of the feeble and vain mother and the soft and easy-going father. But the quietly domestic, the simply bourgeois life has its spoiled babies just as well. There are mother’s girls — sweet little dears brought up at mother’s knee, and taking in, with the extraordinary quickness of a sharp-witted child, everything they hear mentioned. Such children become little replicas of their elders, copy their conversation, their gestures, their tones, ideas, faults, and foolish idiosyncrasies. The parents think it so cute, so cunning, and proud of dear Mary Jane’s old womanish ways and complacent affectations, drag her about with them wherever they go, and force her upon their friends and their visitors till Mary Jane becomes inflated to bursting-point with the consciousness of her own charms, and the family acquaintances feel that they would like to incarcerate the ” dear, clever, little woman ” in some far-distant spot where the babies cease from troubling and the listener is at rest.

Mary Jane’s mamma is always foisting her brilliant daughter upon afternoon visitors, who come at untoward times when mamma is upstairs in the comfortable negligee of a loose white sack and a short white skirt. When she receives the cards, she becomes extremely flurried, after the manner of women, execrates her guests with the true feminine hospitality, and finally tells Mary Jane, who is standing about and silently enjoying the breeze, to smooth her hair, pull up her stockings, and go down and entertain the ladies until “Mamma comes.”

Nothing is dearer to the heart of Mary Jane. Plastering down her bang with a wet brush and donning a clean pinafore, she trips down-stairs and enters the parlor, imparting to her back draperies a gently pendulous swing, as she has seen her Aunt Fanny do when dressed up to meet her young man. Mary Jane has a perfectly self-possessed and complacent manner, copied from mamma’s and Aunt Fanny’s. She greets the guests with gracious patronage, then, sitting on the edge of her chair, smooths her pinafore, crosses her ankles, and proceeds to direct the conversation into interesting channels.

First, she calls their attention to the new draperies over the mantel. They were papa’s taste. “He went off one day and bought them second-hand; cheap, you know. And mamma was furious. She says any one can see they’ve been bought second-hand. Do you think you would have guessed it if I hadn’t told you? No; perhaps not. Mamma said at the time, papa had no more taste than if he’d come from Chicago.”

Then, her eyes lighting on a silk sofa-pillow, she designates it with a languid wave of the hand and continues:  “That is new, too. Mamma’s friend, Miss O’Neil, made it. Miss O’Neil, you know, was at school with mamma, but afterward she didn’t get married, you see, as mamma says her offers were so poor, and so now she’s an old maid and teaches music. She’s worn very badly, mamma says, and is getting a little short in her temper. She gives me lessons — it’s really out of charity, for she is not at all a good teacher. She also comes to dinner once a week, and sometimes twice. We’re beginning to think that she comes a little too often, because we have to have three courses and dessert when she comes, and it does make the bills run up so!”

After this, she falls back on the photographs on the table, and points them out, with appropriate descriptions:  “That man there, with the big mustache, is Aunt Fanny’s beau. He’s been coming here for three years, and papa calls him ‘the forlorn hope.’ I don’t know why he does that.

“Aunt Fanny sits in the parlor when he comes, and we all sit here in the library and listen to Aunt Fanny laugh. Mamma says it’s a pity he’s not so entertaining when he talks to us. He never makes us laugh at all.

“The next man, in the enamel frame, is Mr. Smith. He’s a friend of papa’s. Last winter he lent papa some money, and it isn’t paid yet. As soon as it’s paid, mamma’s going to get her set of cut-glass, but papa says she can’t have one piece until then. Mamma gets awful mad when he tells her so, but papa says honesty is the best policy, and, when papa says a thing, it’s just like the Medes and the Prussians.”

Here mamma, nicely dressed up, but somewhat out of breath, enters rustling : “I am afraid this little chatter-box has been boring you,” she says, with beaming maternal pride. The guests politely disclaim such a possibility. In truth, they have been enormously entertained. Van Gryse.

New York, July 17, 1891.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] 27 July 1891

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The “Sarah Walker” mentioned above is found in the eponymous story by Mr Bret Hard in his 1885 collection By Shore and Sedge. She is an astonishingly spoilt and selfish child and she comes to a—well, a characteristic end for the Sarah Walkers of the world, marrying a limp-spirited European prince and continuing on her serene, self-centred way.

Mrs Daffodil fears that the identical type of child limned in this scathing indictment can still be found, the product of the so-called “helicopter parent,” who hovers to make smooth the path of their darling. One wonders what the harvest will be.

We have previously seen a similar maternal indulgence in The Horror of the Amateur Piano-player.

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.


Sarah Bow’s Hand: 1830s

The Christian Age, reprints from the Ladies’ Home Journal, of Philadelphia, a weird story entitled “The Wife of Ben Bow,” a tale of Brook Farm, by Hezekiah Butterworth. The story is prefaced by the following note of the author:

The story is substantially true. I have taken the story-teller’s licence in giving it form, making some changes in names and places, adding a little here and there for the sake of the movement of the narrative, but the psychological incidents remain intact. I give them as the honest and simple witnesses believed them to be. I have never known anyone to fully credit the tale, except one physician, who said: “I can believe it all: it is not stranger than a birthmark, or the stigmata of the Middle Ages. Mental impressions, if the faith be perfect, may be a deathstroke.”— The Author.

Whether true or false it is weird enough. The story tells how some sixty years ago two young ladies, who were frequent visitors at Brook Farm community, called at the farm-house on a young farmer called Benjamin Bow. His wife was a woman of character, much given to the speculation as to the inward world. When she was a little girl the middle forefinger of her right hand had to be amputated owing to an accident in the mill. The farmer and his wife had one child. When she was dying, she sent a message to the ladies who had called upon her, asking them to come and see after her child. She added,”I shall know if it is treated well, I shall know.” The doctor who told the story of the death scene said:

There was a nurse there whose name was Cone. As I was sitting by the bed the child cried. The dying woman started, and said with a look that was fearful: “Margaret Cone, Margaret Cone, if you or any one else ever injure that child, this dead hand will appear to you, or to whoever it be.” She lifted the hand from which the forefinger was missing. I have seen that scene ever since. There seemed to be something of hidden meaning in it—something like a prophecy. Then she grew calm, and lay uttering poetry.

Another year passed when Ben Bow married Margaret Cone, and after a time the two ladies were waited upon by a neighbouring farmer, who asked them to go and look after the child as it was being treated so badly. They rode over accordingly to ask how the child was getting on. The step-mother received them coldly, and said that the child was the worst youngster she ever knew. She was breaking his will and made him stop crying for his mother. The child was called in, and asked what was his mother’s name. He immediately gave the name of his real mother not of his step-mother. “Did you ever see anything like that for wilfulness?” said the step-mother. “That woman lies out on the hills in the cold without a grave stone, and never will have one if I can help it. That woman was never any good to Ben Bow. One mother is enough for the child,” said she. “When the dead Mrs. Bow wants to see you,” she said to her visitors, “she will send for you. Say, what was that?”

There came a heavy rap on the front door.

“There have been strange noises about the house ever since Sarah died,” said the woman. “Let me go and look out of the window and see who is there. That door hasn’t been opened since Ben banked up the house.”

Margaret Bow went to the window and threw up the curtain, and stood silent. She presently said: “There don’t seem to be anybody there.”

She sat down in an old rocking-chair and began to rock violently. She looked disturbed, and she presently said: “Now, I am going to tell ye how bad that child is.”

There fell a succession of loud, echoing raps on the door. Margaret Bow looked around wildly. A gust swept by the corner of the house. The two ladies turned apprehensively toward each other. The boy shared the fear, and came hesitatingly to his stepmother and buried his face in her lap.

“What do you come to me for? You told these folks that Sarah was your mother. If Sarah is your mother let her look out for ye and protect ye.”

Raps fell upon the door, almost causing the house to shake. Another gust of wind whirling the lone leaves swept around the corner of the house.

“Here, take the brat,” were the words of Margaret Bow, as she pushed the child from her. “Let me go and open the door.”

The visitors heard Margaret Bow unlock the door and slowly open it. They felt a sharp gust of wind sweep into the rooms. They heard a door in the entry fly open. There followed an awful shriek, a heavy fall. They opened the door of the room. Margaret Bow lay on the floor, moaning. They tried to lift her, but she was convulsed. They asked her what had happened. She at last gasped:

“Sarah’s hand!”

“What—tell us?”

“It met me at the door, and struck me on the forehead here. It was her hand—I knew it—I can’t tell ye how. Send for Ben.”

She curled up in a heap on the floor and lay motionless.

“Where is your husband?” asked the ladies over and over, but they received no answer. They asked the boy, but he could only answer: “He’s chopping wood,” but where he could not tell.

“The woman is dying,” said Mary Needham. “She must not be left alone. You go over to Brook Farm and call the doctor, and I will remain here with the child.”

At sunset Ben Bow came home, and Dr. Fifield and his sister met him on the road and told him all that had happened. They entered the dreary house, and found Margaret Bow lying unconscious where she had fallen. The doctor examined the prostrate form.

“She is dead,” he said.

“What was it?” asked Mary Needham.

“Paralysis,” said Dr. Fifield.

“No, it were not,” said Ben Bow. “That wam’t no paralysis.”

“What then?” asked Miss Needham.

“It were a conscience stroke. I know that woman’s soul. I know things that I wouldn’t want to tell. You may call it what you will—it were a conscience stroke. She’s been a-hearin’ noises. People who have wrong in their souls have haunted minds. Poor critter, may the Lord forgive her; she was constituted so.”

“She said that Sarah’s hand came and struck her on the forehead,” said Mary Needham. “Her forehead does look strange.”

They took up the form and laid it on a bed. Her hair fell over her high forehead and white face.

When the day of the funeral came the country side assembled. It was the custom for the visitors to take a farewell glance at the corpse before the coffin lid was fastened down.

Dr. Fifield, his sister, and Miss Needham rode over to the place in the morning, and the ladies prepared the body with suitable dress for the last rites, and waited the ceremonies which would begin with the opening of the coffin lid.

The clock struck one. The sexton who had been given the “charge of the funeral,” made his way through the crowd and opened the coffin lid. He started back, staring. What had happened? An elderly woman arose and bent over the coffin. A strange look came into her face. She stood there until a wild expression came into her eyes. She then sank down into her chair and whispered: “Something has happened—she don’t look natural!”

Others looked, and shut their eyes and turned away. The good old deacon now came forward and looked down. He, too, seemed to receive a shock. He turned around and said: “She don’t look natural at all. She ought not to be seen. I would shut down the lid again. Send for Ben.”

Benjamin Bow came, leading the child by the hand. He lifted the boy up in his arms, and bent over the dead face. One glance, and he uttered a cry:

“Sexton!” said he, “she is changing. Close the lid.”

Dr. Fifield leaped to his feet as the sexton came forward. He looked into the coffin. On the upper part of the white face and forehead there was the impression of a hand as black as ink. And the middle forefinger was gone.

Borderland Vol. 4, 1897, pp. 98-9

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: When Mrs Daffodil saw that this story was written by “Hezekiah Butterworth,” she gave a knowing chuckle, believing it to be a pseudonym denoting one of those painfully home-spun New England humourists, writing in the quaint Yankee dialect. Well. Mrs Daffodil stands corrected. The name is the gentleman’s own and he was a noted author, travel writer, platform lecturer, and hymnologist. He also told a superlative and shiver-making ghost story.

Mrs Daffodil really has no patience with widowers who remarry in haste and allow their children to repent their parent’s imprudence at leisure. Yet it was Margaret that the first Mrs Bow visited, not the husband…. But, after all, it is something of a cliché in supernatural literature that ghostly mothers return to see that their children are not mistreated by a wicked step-mother. Mrs Daffodil has previously shared a dire story of a very young woman haunted by her husband’s  ghostly first wife. 

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.


“After twenty years I have seen her”: A ghost story for Mother’s Day: 1885

dark mother 1912


In the month of September, 1885, my mother was living and, seemingly, in good health, and likely to live for many years longer.

We had for three summers occupied a house at Mianus, a little Connecticut village, not far from CosCob station, and were staying later than usual.

I had been out for a walk one pleasant afternoon, and had come home to find my mother reading in the dining-room. My sisters went up-stairs, but I sat down upon a lounge in the room, and, feeling curiously lazy, stretched my feet out, shut my eyes and instantly fell asleep. I have never known myself to sleep so soundly in the day-time, and it was unusual for me to take that sort of nap. When I awoke it was still a warm, bright twilight.

I lifted myself on my elbow and looked about the room and noted several things. Particularly that while I slept, the new servant had been setting the tea-table without awakening me by the necessary clatter.

As I thought of this, the girl brought in two plates of bread, and I noticed that she had arranged the slices in a very pretty way, the edges overlapping and turned inward, and I saw that everything she had placed on the table was arranged with geometrical precision, and said to myself “she is neat,” and felt the usual satisfaction in thinking this of a newly hired domestic.

I tell you this that you may know I was wide awake, for afterward I found that all was just as I saw it then.

Meanwhile, I noticed that my mother sat in a small carpet-chair, quite unemployed, which was unusual for her, for she generally had a book in her hand, if she were not otherwise busy. “Somehow,” I thought to myself, as the girl left the room, “mother does not look as she usually does.” I had never perceived that there was any resemblance between my mother and grandmother, except the color of their eyes, but now my mother’s features seemed the counterpart of grandma’s. The sudden and perfect likeness startled me; and again, my mother never wore a cap: her hair, still black, though mixed with gray, was worn as she had worn it for long years. Now it was smoothed back beneath a little lace cap, with white satin ribbons, and she had on her shoulders a silk shawl of a soft cream color. I had never known mother to wear such a shawl.

In face, pose of the figure and every item of the dress, she had suddenly become the very counterpart of grandmother—and what was she looking at so wistfully?

I followed the direction of the dark eyes, and saw, at the other end of the long table, my mother, her head bent over the last page of a book which she was intent on finishing before the light faded. Utterly absorbed in it, she noticed nothing else; it was her way when a book pleased her.

The difference in the two faces was more marked than I had thought it.

“It was Grandmother” —I said, under my breath-— Grandmother.”

I looked back again at the little carpet-chair, but it was empty. I arose and went out into a place we called the grove; there I walked up and down, saying to myself: “after twenty years I have seen her again, after twenty years I have seen her.” I had no doubt whatever about it, it was as if one I knew to be alive had come and gone in that strange way. I had been no more excited than I should have been in meeting a living friend so dear as she had been, after so long an absence.

Whatever it was, it was no dream. I said to myself over and over again, “After twenty years I have seen her again,” and the impression made upon my mind was that wherever she dwelt her thoughts were with us still, her tenderness yet ours. The look she had fixed upon my mother was a very earnest one, and I remembered that old belief—the superstition of the peasant everywhere—that when the spirit of a mother is seen looking at a son or daughter, it is because death is close at hand.

I tried to drive the thought away, but it remained with me, although, at the time, my mother was in excellent health and spirits and showed few signs of age, and there was no special reason for anxiety.

I never told my mother of this happening, nor my other relatives, until afterward.

In November, my mother was suddenly taken ill and died after a few weeks’ illness, and, in my sorrow, I confess that the memory of my vision has sometimes comforted me, for though others may believe it an hallucination, I have never been able to consider it one, and it is sweet to think that those two are together, and that mother-love is eternal.

The Freed Spirit: Or Glimpses Beyond the Border, Mary Kyle Dallas, 1894

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mary Kyle Dallas was a prolific poet, playwright, journalist, and author–she once estimated that she had written 8,000 stories.  She had a keen interest in the paranormal; the stories in The Freed Spirit truly Grip the reader. While some of her novels such as Grantford Grange, or The Gipsy Mother and Eunice Earl, or The Fatal Compact were works designed principally to put bread on the table–her father and husband both died while she was quite young, leaving her as the household breadwinner for an extensive family–she also wrote the amusing best-selling book, The Grinder Papers: Being the Adventures of Miss Charity Grinder, Wherein are detailed her numerous hair-breadth escapes and wonderful adventures while on a visit to New York from the country.

Previous posts on mothers and motherhood:  a ghostly mother returns to see her dying son safely across the great divide; baby books holding stories dear to the motherly heart,  a jealous mother’s spirit threatens her children’s stepmother, and an assortment of snippets on babies and motherhood.

For Mother’s Day, that automatic writer over at Haunted Ohio has written about a strange mother and daughter duo–or perhaps trio–in the story of Pearl Curran, her adopted daughter, Patience Worth Curran, and the spirit of a Puritan woman “Patience Worth,” who dictated novels and poetry to Pearl and arranged for the child’s adoption. 

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.


A Thousand Things Dear to the Mother Heart: The Baby Book: 1899

An image from a baby book, courtesy of http://antiqueimages.blogspot.com/

An image from a baby book, courtesy of http://antiqueimages.blogspot.com/

Mrs Daffodil wishes a Happy Mother’s Day to her readers!

The baby book as we think of it today, was invented in 1898 by the C.R. Gibson Company, so at the time of these articles, it was quite the novelty. The baby books in the households Mrs Daffodil has served had padded satin covers, possibly hand-painted with flowers and adorned with ribbons. The pages contained whimsical illustrations, often by noted illustrators such as Maud Humphrey.

Young Mother’s Fad

It has become a fad of late for the young mother to invest in one of the little diaries (which is about as good a descriptive name as any for the books in question) for her firstborn. This book, which several firms have got out under various names, is designed as a sort of diary of the child’s life from its birth to its teens. There are pages for its pretty photographs of various ages, for its quaint and witty sayings, for its unusually cute and bright acts, for its budding characteristics and talents, which may need development later on. There are also pages devoted to its physical life, records of its ailments and actual illnesses, with remedies and curatives, which may be of not a little service to the mother when the next little one appears. This diary is so arranged that the trouble of keeping it is very slight indeed. Its interest to the child, when grown up, cannot fail to be great and its value to the mother, in the care of the children who may follow this little one is untold. Truly, this is a fad which has considerable common sense to it. Elmira Telegram.

The Sandusky [OH] Star-Journal 2 February 1899: p. 2

A page for baby's adorable quips. Courtesy of http://antiqueimages.blogspot.com/

A page for baby’s adorable quips. Courtesy of http://antiqueimages.blogspot.com/

The fashionable baby has long outgrown the days of infancy before it is able to read, but it has, nevertheless, a book sacred to its own diminutive self. The “baby book,” as this volume is usually called, comes in several forms, but they all follow the same general idea of setting forth the most important facts in the infantile biography. These interesting volumes are variously bound in cloth, in white and baby colors such as pale blue and pink, with perhaps a portrait and the title emblazoned in gold or silver on the front. One book has on the cover an infant with a crown above its head, suggesting that the baby is the monarch and rules the house, of which fact everybody who has been in a home where there is a baby is well aware: the fat and dimpled God of Love kneels before the baby offering a casket of jewels. Investigation of the book discloses decorated pages with blanks for the recording to all important dates and facts, so that when “Finis” is reached, between the covers will be inscribed with accuracy the principal facts of the baby’s complete history. The various pages are enlivened with artistic illustrations and sometimes extracts of poetry appropriate to the text and characteristic of healthy, happy babyhood.

The books are variously arranged but they all aim to record the progress of baby’s life, beginning, naturally with the date of its birth. On the first page is a place for the baby’s name to be inscribed in full and spaces for the autographs of the father, mother, physician and nurse. The pages that follow provide for the dates of the first outing, with any interesting incidents, the appearance of the first tooth, the putting into short clothes and when the first shoes were bought, the learning to creep and walk; on other pages the weight and height of the baby at various ages may be set down and on still others details of such epoch-making events in the infantile career as the christening day, the first birthday, the first Christmas, the first valentine. Then there are pages whereon to affix the baby’s photographs, a lock of hair, photographs of those near and dear to the baby, various souvenirs and pictures, such as of the church where the baby was christened, the clergyman who officiated at the ceremony, in fact, all manner of interesting data concerning the baby may be preserved in accurate, progressive and concise order.

The baby’s book is gotten up in various styles, the degree of elaborateness depending, of course, on the cost. Some are cloth, others leather-bound, but now and then a book will be made to order for a baby of wealth and social distinction and then it is exquisitely bound in white leather, satin or velvet with the monogram in gold or silver.

Patriot [Harrisburg PA] 18 May 1903: p. 6

It may be a beautiful booklet of tooled white suede or one covered with moiré silk, and, if the baby’s name admits of symbolic treatment charming decorative variations may be run on the theme. It is very interesting to continue a story of this kind well into young manhood or young womanhood.

Idaho Statesman [Boise, ID] 7 February 1904: p. 4

A page for snaps of Baby, courtesy of http://antiqueimages.blogspot.com/

A page for snaps of Baby, courtesy of http://antiqueimages.blogspot.com/


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.


Saturday Snippets 11 May 2013 Mother’s Day Week-end Edition

A floral post-mortem photograph for someone's dear Mama.

A floral post-mortem photograph for someone’s dear Mama.

A selection of items on motherhood and babies in honour of the Mother’s Day Week-end.

“This baby will kill us all,” was the exclamation of a young mother, as she vainly tried to quiet the screams of her six weeks old son. And then came the question, “What do you do when a baby just cries incessantly? My nurse is sleeping now, for she was awake the entire night. Mamma is also completely exhausted, as night before last she volunteered to take charge of him, so as to give nurse and myself opportunity to sleep; and she told me for a fact she was unable to close her eyes until after five o’clock this morning. He is no better during the day. We three are busy our entire time, walking, jolting, rocking, feeding. One takes care of him until she is worn out, and the next, most rested, takes him, and as soon as my husband comes home, he takes his turn; even papa, with his gray hairs and mature age, has become baby tender, and does his best to rest our arms and see what his powers may be to soothe him. But it seems all to no purpose. This baby cries on and on, and is killing himself and killing us all. Hear him now. What do you suppose causes such constant cries? and what would you do to quiet him?”

“I would give him a little catnip tea,” was the calm response.

“We tried that, and it kept him still just one-half hour. To be sure, that was some relief, but there must be a cause.”

“Yes, I think the cause is colic pains. A little wind is probably swallowed with his food, and before this wind is gotten rid of more follows, and thus the poor child is in constant agony. I do not believe that crying causes wind, but wind causes crying, and the indigestion which precedes may be the cause of both. And not only is crying extremely wearisome, both to mother and child, but in the case of male children it is more or less injurious, owing to the peculiarities of the groin canals. Sometimes a teaspoonful of sweetened aniseed tea will start the wind, and soon this will be followed by complete relief. It is a simple remedy, and you need not fear any ill consequence arising from it. Or try a little sweetened gin and water, not too strong, or the child will strangle.”

“Well, I’ll give him that now,” said the mother.

She gave it to him, and in less than fifteen minutes the tired child was in a sound, healthful sleep, which, she afterwards told me, he did not awake from for four hours. Godey’s Lady’s Book, August 1890  [One immediately thinks of Edward Gorey’s unfortunate Zillah, who drank too much gin.]

THE EUREKA DIAPER.— This simple invention we desire to call attention to from the fact that it is, in our opinion, one that is going to create a revolution in the nursery. It is an article that will be of great benefit to those mothers and nurses who wish to pay proper attention to a child’s health. One of the causes that make a crying child is the use of pins in fastening its covering. Now, this article not only does away with the use of pins, but it protects the bedding and clothing. It is highly recommended by physicians. Sold by all the principal dry-goods stores in the United States. Godey’s Lady’s Book October, 1870 

Students of Dr. Moses M. Pallen, a member of an old Virginia family, who came to St. Louis in 1842, were given an impression of professional obligation which was far more than scientific. Dr. Pallen held the professorship of obstetrics for more than twenty years. He taught thousands of students “that the doctor when at the bedside of the woman in labor almost meets his God, and that duty, the stern daughter of God, must be evoked every moment and hour in her travail. Give your strength to the laboring mother. Fill her with hope: it may be light diet but it will be very stimulating; it awakens courage. If the doctor ever is at the service of any one he must be at the absolute service of the lying-in woman. Be thoughtful of her in her agony of pain. Encouragement is everything. It well becomes God’s most exalted creature. To relieve distress is not only human but it is Godlike; and thrice blessed is that man who relieves a single maternal pain.” That was the character of Dr. Pallen’s teaching as one of his pupils. Dr. Warren B. Outten, described it long years after his own graduation. ST. LOUIS: The Fourth City 1764-1909, Walter B. Stevens, 1909  

Mrs. J.B. McCrum, residing at Kalamazoo, Mich., is the mother of twins so small that they are a marvel of humanity, putting in the shade all stories of Lilliputians ever heard of. One is a boy and the other is a girl, and weigh, together, three pounds and four ounces. They are perfect, and seem to be in good health. Their bed is a little paper box, filled with cotton, and they are dressed in dolls’ clothes. The mother and children were doing well at last accounts. These twins are the smallest living children ever heard of. They take food naturally, and make a noise like very young kittens. A teacup will cover the head of either. Their hands are about the size of the bowl of a teaspoon, and their bodies less than six inches long— the boy a trifle the larger. Godey’s Lady’s Book, April 1874

Latest Fashion in Clothes and Children.

The small woman who fervently prayed that there might be no “best clothes” in heaven certainly ought not to be unhappy now, for even the best clothes are simple, and are made so that she can move and be happy in them. Silks, satins, laces and flummery on children are only evidences of the folly of their mothers, for the wisest and wealthiest women dress their children in the simplest and plainest manner. You see, babies who quote Shakespeare at five, or who are looking for microbes at seven, are counted bad form, while those who dig in the sands for precious stones, or build houses that are washed away by the incoming waves, are the ones who are going to be healthy and wise. New York Sun. Repository [Canton, OH] 5 June 1891: p. 3  [plus ça change….]

Strange Occurrence At A Funeral.-— One of the strangest occurrences happened at the funeral of Michael Guthrie, who was accidentally killed the day previous on the Northwestern Railway, which we have ever been called upon to chronicle. The family of Mr. Guthrie, consisting of a wife and three children, had made extensive arrangements for the accommodation of the friends of the deceased at the funeral. A large number of carriages and a numerous assembly of mourners were present when the undertaker, Mr. Berry, arrived with the hearse. About the same time another carriage, containing a woman richly and fashionably dressed, was driven to the door. The woman alighted, and entered the house. To the astonishment of the assembly, to all of whom she was a total stranger, she greeted the children of Guthrie as her own, and they in turn addressed her as their mother, manifesting the greatest joy, mingled with surprise, at seeing her. The wife, on the other hand, was confounded. She knew not what to say or what to think of this sudden and strange appearance of one who claimed also to be the wife of the deceased and who was addressed by his children as their mother. She knew herself to be their stepmother, having been married to their father in due legal form and in the full confidence that his first wife was dead. This supposition being now overthrown by the sudden appearance of one claiming to be that deceased wife, the other wife began to upbraid the children for not telling her that their mother was living. The real mother (for such the stranger was) assured her that the children were not to blame, as they, as well as their father, had reason to believe her dead. She had deserted her husband in the city of St. Louis, where they lived, and shortly afterwards caused an announcement of her death to be published in the newspapers of that city. But she was not dead. Leaving St. Louis, she had lived in Chicago, not knowing that her husband was here until she saw the account of his death published in the papers yesterday morning. She had come to reclaim her children, and to behold for the last time on earth the form of their father.—Chicago Times. Francis Vincent Semi Annual Register 1860, January 12 

Baby’s Tooth Set in a Ring.

Among the most exclusive of New York’s smart young matrons it is at present quite the proper thing to wear a ring fashioned as indicated in the above headline. The woman who first wore on these mysterious rings told all about it the other day to a girl friend, who was admiring it and wanted to copy it. She said:

“Why the little white stone wouldn’t be considered a gem to any one but me. It is only one of my baby girl’s pearly white teeth. She knocked out a little front tooth not long ago, and, as it was too precious for me to throw away, I took it to my jeweler and asked him if it couldn’t be set in a ring. And here is the result. I told him to surmount the tooth with diamonds and turquoises, alternating with one another, as I think just the touch of blue adds much to the beauty of the ring. The baby tooth encircled with diamonds looks too white. A number of my friends who have copied my idea have taken one of their baby’s teeth to the jeweler’s and had it surrounded with the child’s birth stones.”  Trenton [NJ] Evening Times 9 April 1899: 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.