Thursday, November 5, 2009

Herstoryan's Hearth: The Domestic World (1889)



It is not a secret that I love a cozy corner snuggled with a cup of tea and a good book - especially if that book is from another century. To me those writings provide a window into our ancestor's lives. What better way to walk in their shoes than to understand the times in which they lived. What was society like? To what standards and expectations did they hold themselves? With what did they fill their days? Today our character, development, and behavior are shaped by numerous sources some more favorable than others like radio, television, and the internet. In centuries past, print more often than not was the only external influence a family had. Those yellowed pages draw me near to those separated by time. Frequently the teachings only reinforce what a different world it was in which my ancestresses lived. The below excerpt is one example that left me with this thought, "My how times have changed."


Philp, Robert Kemp. The Domestic World: A Practical Guide in all the Daily Difficulties of the Higher Branches of Domestic and Social Economy. London: Hodder And Stoughton, 1889. Print. p 32

BeautyThe Аrt Of.—The following passage, by Mrs. Jamieson, we cordially recommend to our lady readers: —" In the morning use pure water as an ablution ; after which they must abstain from all sudden gusts of passion, particularly envy, as that gives the skin a sallow paleness. It may seem trifling to speak of temperance, yet this must be attended to both in eating and drinking, if they would avoid pimples. Instead of rouge, let them use moderate exercise, which will raise a natural bloom in their cheeks, inimitable by art. Ingenuous candour, and unaffected good humour, will give an openness to their countenance that will make them universally agreeable. A desire of pleasingwill add fire to their eyes, and breathing the air of sunrise will give their lips a vermilion hue. That amiable vivacity which they now possess may be highly heightened and preserved, if they would avoid late hours and card-playing, as well as novel-reading by candle-light, but not otherwise; for the first gives the face a drowsy, disagreeable aspect; the second is the mother of wrinkles; and the third is a fruitful source of weak eyes and a sallow complexion. A white hand is a very desirable [word missing here]; and a hand can never be white unless it be kept clean. Nor is this all, for if a young lady would excel her companions in this respect, she must keep her hands in constant motion, which will occasion the blood to circulate freely, and have a wonderful effect. The motion recommended is working at her needle, brightening the house, and making herself as useful as possible in the performance of all domestic duties."

1 comment:

  1. Ima gonna bookmark this page --- so when I feel drowsy of face, wrinkled, and of sallow complexion, I will know the what to do.

    In all fairness, this sounds like my twin Aunties,
    Loise & Joyce. Both are gone now; they lived until their late 80s and to their dying days, they subscribe to this view of womanhood.

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