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A Treatise on Domestic Economy - For the Use of Young Ladies at Home and at School
by Catherine Esther Beecher
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In cases of poisoning, from corrosive sublimate, beat up the whites of twelve eggs, mix them in two quarts of water, and give a tumbler full every three minutes, till vomiting is produced. This is the surest remedy. When this is not at hand, fill the stomach, in like manner, with any mucilaginous substance, such as gum and water, flaxseed, or slippery-elm-bark tea. Flour and water, or sugar and water, in great quantities, are next best; and if none of these be at hand, give copious draughts of water alone.

In case of poisoning from arsenic, cobalt, or any such mineral, administer, as soon as possible, large quantities of lime-water and sugared-water, of warm, or even of cold water, or of flaxseed tea, or some other mucilaginous drink, to distend the stomach and produce immediate vomiting, and thereby eject the poison.

If opium, or any of its preparations, has been taken, in dangerous quantities, induce vomiting, without a moment's unnecessary delay, by giving, immediately, in a small quantity of water, ten grains of ipecac, and ten grains of sulphate of zinc, (white vitriol, which is the most prompt emetic known,) and repeat the dose every fifteen minutes, till the stomach is entirely emptied. Where white vitriol is not at hand, substitute three or four grains of blue vitriol, (sulphate of copper.) When the stomach is emptied, but not before, give, every ten minutes, alternately, a cup of acid drink, and a cup of very strong coffee, made by pouring a pint of boiling water on a quarter of a pound of ground burnt coffee, and letting it stand ten minutes, and then straining it. Continue these drinks, till the danger is over. Dash cold water on the head, apply friction to the body, and keep the person in constant motion, to prevent sleep.

If any kind of acid be taken, in poisonous quantities, give strong pearlash-water. If ley, or pearlash, or any alkali be taken, give sweet-oil; or, if this be wanting, lamp-oil; or, if neither be at hand, give vinegar, freely.

In case of stupefaction, from the fumes of charcoal, or from entering a well, limekiln, or coal mine, expose the person to cold air, lying on his back, dash cold water on the head and breast, and rub the body with spirits of camphor, vinegar, or Cologne water. Apply mustard paste to the pit of the stomach, and use friction on the hands, feet, and whole length of the back bone. Give some acid drink, and, when the person revives, place him in a warm bed, in fresh air. Be prompt and persevering.

In case of bleeding at the lungs, or stomach, or throat, give a teaspoonful of dry salt, and repeat it often. For bleeding at the nose, pour cold water on the back of the neck, keeping the head elevated.

If a person be struck with lightning, throw pailfuls of cold water on the head and body, and apply mustard poultices on the stomach, with friction of the whole body, and inflation of the lungs. When no other emetic can be found, pounded mustard seed, taken a teaspoonful at a time, will answer. The ground mustard is not so effectual, but will do.

In case of fire, wrap a woollen blanket about you, to protect from the fire. If the staircases are on fire, tie the corners of the sheets together, very firmly, fasten one end to the bedstead, draw it to the window, and let yourself down. Never read in bed, lest you fall asleep, and the bed be set on fire. If your clothes get on fire, never run, but lie down, and roll about till you can reach a bed or carpet to wrap yourself in, and thus put out the fire. Keep young children in woollen dresses, to save them from the risk of fire.

In thunderstorms, shut the doors and windows. The safest part of a room, is its centre; and where there is a featherbed in the apartment, that will be found the most secure resting-place.

A lightning rod, if it be well pointed, and run deep into the earth, is a certain protection to a circle around it, whose diameter equals the height of the rod above the highest chimney. But it protects no further than this extent.



CHAPTER XXIII.

ON DOMESTIC AMUSEMENTS AND SOCIAL DUTIES.

Whenever the laws of body and mind are properly understood, it will be allowed, that every person needs some kind of recreation; and that, by seeking it, the body is strengthened, the mind is invigorated, and all our duties are more cheerfully and successfully performed.

Children, whose bodies are rapidly growing, and whose nervous system is tender and excitable, need much more amusement, than persons of mature age. Persons, also, who are oppressed with great responsibilities and duties, or who are taxed by great intellectual or moral excitement, need recreations which secure physical exercise, and draw off the mind from absorbing interests. Unfortunately, such persons are those who least resort to amusements, while the idle, gay, and thoughtless, seek those which are needless, and for which useful occupation would be a most beneficial substitute.

As the only legitimate object of amusements, is, to prepare mind and body for the proper discharge of duty, any protracting of such as interfere with regular employments, or induce excessive fatigue, or weary the mind, or invade the proper hours for repose, must be sinful.

In deciding what should be selected, and what avoided, the following rules are binding. In the first place, no amusements, which inflict needless pain, should ever be allowed. All tricks which cause fright, or vexation, and all sports, which involve suffering to animals, should be utterly forbidden. Hunting and fishing, for mere sport, can never be justified. If a man can convince his children, that he follows these pursuits to gain food or health, and not for amusement, his example may not be very injurious. But, when children see grown persons kill and frighten animals, for sport, habits of cruelty, rather than feelings of tenderness and benevolence, are induced.

In the next place, we should seek no recreations, which endanger life, or interfere with important duties. As the only legitimate object of amusements, is to promote health, and prepare for more serious duties, selecting those which have a directly opposite tendency, cannot be justified. Of course, if a person feel that the previous day's diversions have shortened the hours of needful repose, or induced a lassitude of mind or body, instead of invigorating them, it is certain that an evil has been done, which should never be repeated.

A third rule, is, to avoid those amusements, which experience has shown to be so exciting, and connected with so many temptations, as to be pernicious in tendency, both to the individual and to the community. It is on this ground, that horse-racing and circus-riding are excluded. Not because there is any thing positively wrong, in having men and horses run, and perform feats of agility, or in persons looking on for the diversion; but because experience has shown so many evils connected with these recreations, that they should be relinquished. So with theatres. The enacting of characters, and the amusement thus afforded, in itself may be harmless; and possibly, in certain cases, might be useful: but experience has shown so many evils to result from this source, that it is deemed wrong to patronize it. So, also, with those exciting games of chance, which are employed in gambling.

Under the same head, comes dancing, in the estimation of the great majority of the religious world. Still, there are many intelligent, excellent, and conscientious persons, who hold a contrary opinion. Such maintain, that it is an innocent and healthful amusement, tending to promote ease of manners, cheerfulness, social affection, and health of mind and body; that evils are involved only in its excess; that, like food, study, or religious excitement, it is only wrong, when not properly regulated; and that, if serious and intelligent people would strive to regulate, rather than banish, this amusement, much more good would be secured.

On the other side, it is objected, not that dancing is a sin, in itself considered, for it was once a part of sacred worship; not that it would be objectionable, if it were properly regulated; not that it does not tend, when used in a proper manner, to health of body and mind, to grace of manners, and to social enjoyment: all these things are conceded. But it is objected to, on the same ground as horse-racing, card-playing, and theatrical entertainments; that we are to look at amusements as they are, and not as they might be. Horseraces might be so managed, as not to involve cruelty, gambling, drunkenness, and every other vice. And so might theatres and cards. And if serious and intelligent persons, undertook to patronize these, in order to regulate them, perhaps they would be somewhat raised from the depths, to which they are now sunk. But such persons, know, that, with the weak sense of moral obligation existing in the mass of society, and the imperfect ideas mankind have of the proper use of amusements, and the little self-control, which men, or women, or children, practise, these will not, in fact, be thus-regulated. And they believe dancing to be liable to the same objections.

As this recreation is actually conducted, it does not tend to produce health of body or mind, but directly the contrary. If young and old went out to dance together, in the open air, as the French peasants do, it would be a very different sort of amusement, from that which is witnessed, in a room, furnished with many lights, and filled with guests, both expending the healthful part of the atmosphere, where the young collect, in their tightest dresses, to protract, for several hours, a kind of physical exertion, which is not habitual to them. During this process, the blood is made to circulate more swiftly than ordinary, in circumstances where it is less perfectly oxygenized than health requires; the pores of the skin are excited by heat and exercise; the stomach is loaded with indigestible articles, and the quiet, needful to digestion, withheld; the diversion is protracted beyond the usual hour for repose; and then, when the skin is made the most highly susceptible to damps and miasms, the company pass from a warm room to the cold night-air. It is probable, that no single amusement can be pointed out, combining so many injurious particulars, as this, which is so often defended as a healthful one. Even if parents, who train their children to dance, can keep them from public balls, (which is seldom the case,) dancing in private parlors is subject to nearly all the same mischievous influences.

As to the claim of social benefits,—when a dancing-party occupies the parlors, and the music begins, most of the conversation ceases; while the young prepare themselves for future sickness, and the old look smilingly on.

As to the claim for ease and grace of manners,—all that is gained, by this practice, can be better secured, by Calisthenics, which, in all its parts, embraces a much more perfect system, both of healthful exercise, graceful movement, and pleasing carriage.

The writer was once inclined to the common opinion, that dancing was harmless, and might be properly regulated; and she allowed a fair trial to be made, under her auspices, by its advocates. The result was, a full conviction, that it secured no good effect, which could not be better gained another way; that it involved the most pernicious evils to health, character, and happiness; and that those parents were wise, who brought up their children with the full understanding that they were neither to learn nor to practise the art. In the fifteen years, during which she has had the care of young ladies, she has never known any case, where learning this art, and following the amusement, did not have a bad effect, either on the habits, the intellect, the feelings, or the health. Those young ladies, who are brought up with less exciting recreations, are uniformly likely to be the most contented and most useful, while those, who enter the path to which this diversion leads, acquire a relish and desire for high excitement, which make the more steady and quiet pursuits and enjoyments of home, comparatively tasteless. This, the writer believes to be generally the case, though not invariably so; for there are exceptions to all general rules.

In reference to these exciting amusements, so liable to danger and excess, parents are bound to regard the principle, which is involved in the petition, "Lead us not into temptation." Would it not be inconsistent, to teach this prayer, to the lisping tongue of childhood, and then send it to the dancing-master, to acquire a love for a diversion, which leads to constant temptations that so few find strength to resist?

It is encouraging, to those who take this view of the subject, to find how fast the most serious and intelligent portion of the community is coming to a similar result. Twenty-five years ago, dancing was universally practised by the young, as a matter of course, in every part of the Nation. Now, in those parts of the Country, where religion and intelligence are most extensively diffused, it is almost impossible to get up a ball, among the more refined classes of the community. The amusement is fast leaving this rank in society, to remain as a resource for those, whose grade of intelligence and refinement does not relish more elevated recreations. Still, as there is great diversity of opinion, among persons of equal worth and intelligence, a spirit of candor and courtesy should be practised, on both sides. The sneer at bigotry and narrowness of views, on one side, and the uncharitable implication of want of piety, or sense, on the other, are equally illbred and unchristian. Truth, on this subject, is best promoted, not by ill-natured crimination and rebuke, but by calm reason, generous candor, forbearance, and kindness.

There is another species of amusement, which a large portion of the religious world have been accustomed to put under the same condemnation as the preceding. This is novel-reading. The confusion and difference of opinion on this subject, have arisen from a want of clear and definite distinctions. Now, as it is impossible to define what are novels and what are not, so as to include one class of fictitious writings and exclude every other, it is impossible to lay down any rule respecting them. The discussion, in fact, turns on the use of those works of imagination, which belong to the class of narratives. That this species of reading, is not only lawful, but necessary and useful, is settled by Divine examples, in the parables and allegories of Scripture. Of course, the question must be, what kind of fabulous writings must be avoided, and what allowed. In deciding this, no specific rules can be given; but it must be a matter to be regulated by the nature and circumstances of each case. No works of fiction, which tend to throw the allurements of taste and genius around vice and crime, should ever be tolerated; and all that tend to give false views of life and duty, should also be banished. Of those, which are written for mere amusement, presenting scenes and events that are interesting and exciting, and having no bad moral influence, much must depend on character and circumstances. Some minds are torpid and phlegmatic, and need to have the imagination stimulated: such would be benefitted by this kind of reading. Others have quick and active imaginations, and would be as much injured. Some persons are often so engaged in absorbing interests, that any thing innocent, which will for a short time draw off the mind, is of the nature of a medicine; and, in such cases, this kind of reading is useful.

There is need, also, that some men should keep a supervision of the current literature of the day, as guardians, to warn others of danger. For this purpose, it is more suitable for editors, clergymen, and teachers, to read indiscriminately, than for any other class of persons; for they are the guardians of the public weal, in matters of literature, and should be prepared to advise parents and young persons of the evils in one direction and the good in another. In doing this, however, they are bound to go on the same principles which regulate physicians, when they visit infected districts,—using every precaution to prevent injury to themselves; having as little to do with pernicious exposures, as a benevolent regard to others will allow; and faithfully employing all the knowledge and opportunities, thus gained, for warning and preserving others. There is much danger, in taking this course, that men will seek the excitement of the imagination, for the mere pleasure it affords, under the plea of preparing to serve the public, when this is neither the aim nor the result.

In regard to the use of such works, by the young, as a general rule, they ought not to be allowed to any, except those of a dull and phlegmatic temperament, until the solid parts of education are secured, and a taste for more elevated reading is acquired. If these stimulating condiments in literature be freely used, in youth, all relish for more solid reading, will, in a majority of cases, be destroyed. If parents succeed in securing habits of cheerful and implicit obedience, it will be very easy to regulate this matter, by prohibiting the reading of any story-book, until the consent of the parent is obtained.

It is not unfrequently the case, that advocates for dancing, and the other more exciting amusements, speak as if those, who were more strict in these matters, were aiming to deprive the young of all diversions; just as if, when cards, theatres, and dancing, are cut off, nothing remains but serious and severe duties. Perhaps there has been some just ground of objection to the course often pursued by parents, in neglecting to provide agreeable and suitable substitutes, for the amusements denied; but, there is a great abundance of safe, healthful, and delightful, recreations, which all parents may secure for their children. Some of these will here be pointed out.

One of the most useful and important, is, the cultivation of flowers and fruits. This, especially for the daughters of a family, is greatly promotive of health and amusement. It is with the hope, that many young ladies, whose habits are now so formed, that they can never be induced to a course of active domestic exercise, so long as their parents are able to hire domestics, may yet be led to an employment, which will tend to secure health and vigor of constitution, that so much space is given, in this work, to directions for the cultivation of fruits and flowers. It would be a most desirable improvement, if all female schools could be furnished with suitable grounds, and instruments, for the cultivation of fruits and flowers, and every inducement offered, to engage the young ladies in this pursuit. No father, who wishes to have his daughters grow up to be healthful women, can take a surer method to secure this end. Let him set apart a portion of his yard and garden, for fruits and flowers, and see that the soil is well prepared and dug over, and all the rest may be committed to the care of the children. These would need to be provided with a light hoe and rake, a dibble, or garden trowel, a watering-pot, and means and opportunities for securing seeds, roots, buds, and grafts, all which might be done at a trifling expense. Then, with proper encouragement, and by the aid of such directions as are contained in this work, every man, who has even half an acre, could secure a small Eden around his premises.

In pursuing this amusement, children can also be led to acquire many useful habits. Early rising would, in many cases, be thus secured; and if they were required to keep their walks and borders free from weeds and rubbish, habits of order and neatness would be induced. Benevolent and social feelings could also be cultivated, by influencing children to share their fruits and flowers with friends and neighbors, as well as to distribute roots and seeds to those, who have not the means of procuring them. A woman or a child, by giving seeds, or slips, or roots, to a washerwoman, or a farmer's boy, thus exciting them to love and cultivate fruits and flowers, awakens a new and refining source of enjoyment in minds, which have few resources more elevated than mere physical enjoyments. Our Saviour directs, in making feasts, to call, not the rich, who can recompense again, but the poor, who can make no returns. So children should be taught to dispense their little treasures, not alone to companions and friends, who will probably return similar favors; but to those who have no means of making any return. If the rich, who acquire a love for the enjoyments of taste, and have the means to gratify it, would aim to extend, among the poor, the cheap and simple enjoyment of fruits and flowers, our Country would soon literally "blossom as the rose."

If the ladies of a neighborhood would unite small contributions, and send a list of flower-seeds and roots to some respectable and honest florist, who would not be likely to turn them off with trash, they could divide these among themselves, so as to secure an abundant variety, at a very small expense. A bag of flower-seeds, which can be obtained, at wholesale, for four cents, would abundantly supply a whole neighborhood; and, by the gathering of seeds, in the Autumn, could be perpetuated.

Another very elevating and delightful recreation, for the young, is found in music. Here, the writer would protest against the common practice, in many families, of having the daughters learn to play on the piano, whether they have a taste and an ear for music, or not. A young lady, who cannot sing, and has no great fondness for music, does nothing but waste time, money, and patience, in learning to play on the piano. But all children can be taught to sing, in early childhood, if the scientific mode of teaching music, in schools, could be introduced, as it is in Prussia, Germany, and Switzerland. Then, young children could read and sing music, as easily as they can read language; and might take any tune, dividing themselves into bands, and sing off, at sight, the endless variety of music which is prepared. And if parents of wealth would take pains to have teachers qualified for the purpose, as they may be at the Boston Academy, and other similar institutions, who should teach all the young children in the community, much would be done for the happiness and elevation of the rising generation. This is an amusement, which children relish, in the highest degree; and which they can enjoy, at home, in the fields, and in visits abroad.

Another domestic amusement, is, the collecting of shells, plants, and specimens in geology and mineralogy, for the formation of cabinets. If intelligent parents would procure the simpler works which have been prepared for the young, and study them, with their children, a taste for such recreations would soon be developed. The writer has seen young boys, of eight and ten years of age, gathering and cleaning shells from rivers, and collecting plants, and mineralogical specimens, with a delight, bordering on ecstasy; and there are few, if any, who, by proper influences, would not find this a source of ceaseless delight and improvement.

Another resource, for family diversion, is to be found in the various games played by children, and in which the joining of older members of the family is always a great advantage to both parties. All medical men unite, in declaring that nothing is more beneficial to health, than hearty laughter; and surely our benevolent Creator would not have provided risibles, and made it a source of health and enjoyment to use them, if it were a sin so to do. There has been a tendency to asceticism, on this subject, which needs to be removed. Such commands, as forbid foolish laughing and jesting, "which are not convenient;" and which forbid all idle words, and vain conversation, cannot apply to any thing, except what is foolish, vain, and useless. But jokes, laughter, and sports, when used in such a degree as tends only to promote health, social feelings, and happiness, are neither vain, foolish, nor "not convenient." It is the excess of these things, and not the moderate use of them, which Scripture forbids. The prevailing temper of the mind, should be cheerful, yet serious; but there are times, when relaxation and laughter are proper for all. There is nothing better for this end, than that parents and older persons should join in the sports of childhood. Mature minds can always make such diversions more entertaining to children, and can exert a healthful moral influence over their minds; and, at the same time, can gain exercise and amusement for themselves. How lamentable, that so many fathers, who could be thus useful and happy with their children, throw away such opportunities, and wear out soul and body, in the pursuit of gain or fame!

Another resource for children, is in the exercise of mechanical skill. Fathers, by providing tools for their boys, and showing them how to make wheelbarrows, carts, sleds, and various other articles, contribute both to the physical, moral, and social, improvement of their children. And in regard to little daughters, much more can be done, in this way, than many would imagine. The writer, blessed with the example of a most ingenious and industrious mother, had not only learned, before the age of twelve, to make dolls, of various sorts and sizes, but to cut and fit and sew every article, that belongs to a doll's wardrobe. This, which was done for mere amusement, secured such a facility in mechanical pursuits, that, ever afterward, the cutting and fitting of any article of dress, for either sex, was accomplished with entire ease.

When a little girl first begins to sew, her mother can promise her a small bed and pillows, as soon as she has sewed a patch quilt for them; and then a bedstead, as soon as she has sewed the sheets and cases for pillows; and then a large doll to dress, as soon as she has made the under garments; and thus go on, till the whole contents of the baby-house are earned by the needle and skill of its little owner. Thus, the task of learning to sew, will become a pleasure; and every new toy will be earned by useful exertion. A little girl can be taught, by the aid of patterns prepared for the purpose, to cut and fit all articles necessary for her doll. She can also be provided with a little wash-tub, and irons, to wash and iron, and thus keep in proper order a complete miniature domestic establishment.

Besides these recreations, there are the enjoyments secured in walking, riding, visiting, and many others which need not be recounted. Children, if trained to be healthful and industrious, will never fail to discover resources of amusement; while their guardians should lend their aid to guide and restrain them from excess.

There is need of a very great change of opinion and practice, in this Nation, in regard to the subject of social and domestic duties. Many sensible and conscientious men, spend all their time, abroad, in business, except, perhaps, an hour or so at night, when they are so fatigued, as to be unfitted for any social or intellectual enjoyment. And some of the most conscientious men in the Country, will add, to their professional business, public or benevolent enterprises, which demand time, effort, and money; and then excuse themselves for neglecting all care of their children, and efforts for their own intellectual improvement, or for the improvement of their families, by the plea, that they have no time for it. All this, arises from the want of correct notions of the binding obligation of our social and domestic duties. The main object of life, is not to secure the various gratifications of appetite or taste, but to form such a character, for ourselves and others, as will secure the greatest amount of present and future happiness. It is of far more consequence, then, that parents should be intelligent, social, affectionate, and agreeable, at home, and to their friends, than that they should earn money enough to live in a large house, and have handsome furniture. It is far more needful, for children, that a father should attend to the formation of their character and habits, and aid in developing their social, intellectual, and moral nature, than it is, that he should earn money to furnish them with handsome clothes, and a variety of tempting food.

It will be wise for those parents, who find little time to attend to their children, or to seek amusement and enjoyment in the domestic and social circle, because their time is so much occupied with public cares or benevolent objects, to inquire, whether their first duty is not to train up their own families, to be useful members of society. A man, who neglects the mind and morals of his children, to take care of the public, is in great danger of coming under a similar condemnation, to that of him, who, neglecting to provide for his own household, has "denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

There are husbands and fathers, who conscientiously subtract time from their business, to spend at home, in reading with their wives and children, and in domestic amusements which at once refresh and improve. The children of such parents will grow up with a love of home and kindred, which will be the greatest safeguard against future temptations, as well as the purest source of earthly enjoyment.

There are families, also, who make it a definite object to keep up family attachments, after the children are scattered abroad; and, in some cases, secure the means for doing this, by saving money, which would otherwise have been spent for superfluities of food or dress. Some families have adopted, for this end, a practice, which if widely imitated, would be productive of extensive benefit. The method is this. On the first day of each month, some member of the family, at each extreme point of dispersion, takes a folio sheet, and fills a part of a page. This is sealed and mailed to the next family, who read it, add another contribution, and then mail it to the next. Thus the family circular, once a month, goes from each extreme, to all the members of a widely-dispersed family, and each member becomes a sharer in the joys, sorrows, plans, and pursuits, of all the rest. At the same time, frequent family meetings are sought; and the expense, thus incurred, is cheerfully met by retrenchments in other directions. The sacrifice of some unnecessary physical indulgence, (such, for instance, as the use of tea and coffee,) will often purchase many social and domestic enjoyments, a thousand times more elevating and delightful, than the retrenched luxury.

There is no social duty, which the Supreme Lawgiver more strenuously urges, than hospitality and kindness to strangers, who are classed with the widow and the fatherless, as the special objects of Divine tenderness. There are some reasons, why this duty peculiarly demands attention from the American people.

Reverses of fortune, in this land, are so frequent and unexpected, and the habits of the people are so migratory, that there are very many in every part of the Country, who, having seen all their temporal plans and hopes crushed, are now pining among strangers, bereft of wonted comforts, without friends, and without the sympathy and society, so needful to wounded spirits. Such, too frequently, sojourn long and lonely, with no comforter but Him who "knoweth the heart of a stranger."

Whenever, therefore, new comers enter a community, inquiry should immediately be made, whether they have friends and associates, to render sympathy and kind attentions; and, when there is any need for it, the ministries of kind neighborhood should immediately be offered. And it should be remembered, that the first days of a stranger's sojourn, are the most dreary, and that civility and kindness are doubled in value, by being offered at an early period.

In social gatherings, the claims of the stranger are too apt to be forgotten; especially, in cases where there are no peculiar attractions of personal appearance, or talents, or high standing. Such a one should be treated with attention, because he is a stranger; and when communities learn to act more from principle, and less from selfish impulse, on this subject, the sacred claims of the stranger will be less frequently forgotten.

The most agreeable hospitality, to visiters, who become inmates of a family, is, that which puts them entirely at ease. This can never be the case, where the guest perceives that the order of family arrangements is essentially altered, and that time, comfort, and convenience are sacrificed, for his accommodation.

Offering the best to visiters, showing a polite regard to every wish expressed, and giving precedence to them, in all matters of comfort and convenience, can be easily combined with the easy freedom which makes the stranger feel at home; and this is the perfection of hospitable entertainment.



CHAPTER XXIV.

ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF HOUSES.

There is no point of domestic economy, which more seriously involves the health and daily comfort of American women, than the proper construction of houses. There are five particulars, to which attention should be given, in building a house; namely, economy of labor, economy of money, economy of health, economy of comfort, and good taste. Some particulars will here be pointed out, under each of these heads.

The first, respects economy of labor. In deciding upon the size and style of a house, the health and capacity of the housekeeper, and the probabilities of securing proper domestics, ought to be the very first consideration. If a man be uncertain as to his means for hiring service, or if he have a feeble wife, and be where properly-qualified domestics are scarce, it is very poor economy to build a large house, or to live in a style which demands much labor. Every room in a house adds to the expense involved in finishing and furnishing it, and to the amount of labor spent in sweeping, dusting, cleaning floors, paint, and windows, and taking care of, and repairing, its furniture. Double the size of a house, and you double the labor of taking care of it, and so, vice versa. There is, in this Country, a very great want of calculation and economy, in this matter.

The arrangement of rooms, and the proper supply of conveniences, are other points, in which, economy of labor and comfort is often disregarded. For example, a kitchen will be in one story, a sitting-room in another, and the nursery in a third. Nothing is more injurious, to a feeble woman, than going up and down stairs; and yet, in order to gain two large parlors, to show to a few friends, or to strangers, immense sacrifices of health, comfort, and money, are made. If it be possible, the nursery, sitting-parlor, and kitchen, ought always to be on the same floor.

The position of wells and cisterns, and the modes of raising and carrying water, are other particulars, in which, economy of labor and comfort is sadly neglected. With half the expense usually devoted to a sideboard or sofa, the water used from a well or cistern can be so conducted, as that, by simply turning a cock, it will flow to the place where it is to be used.

A want of economy, in labor and in money, is often seen in the shape and arrangement of houses, and in the style of ornaments and furniture. A perfect square, encloses more rooms, at less expense, than any other shape; while it has less surface exposed to external cold, and can be most easily warmed and ventilated. And the farther a house is removed from this shape, the more the expense is increased. Wings and kitchens built out, beyond a house, very much increase expense, both in building and warming them.

Piazzas and porticoes are very expensive; and their cost would secure far more comfort, if devoted to additional nursery or kitchen conveniences. Many kinds of porticoes cost as much as one additional room in the house. Houses can be so constructed, that one staircase will answer for both kitchen and parlour use, as may be seen in the engraving on page 269, (Fig. 27.) This saves the expense and labor usually devoted to a large hall and front staircase.

Much money is often worse than wasted, by finical ornaments, which are fast going out of fashion. One of the largest, most beautiful, and agreeable, houses, the writer was ever in, was finished with doors, windows, and fireplaces, in even a plainer style than any given in the subsequent drawings.

The position of fireplaces has much to do with economy of expense in warming a house. Where the fireplace is in an outer wall, one third of the heat passes out of doors, which would be retained in the house, if the chimney were within the rooms. A house, contrived like the one represented in the engraving on page 272, (Fig. 32,) which can be heated by a stove or chimney at X, may be warmed with less fuel than one of any other construction.[R]

Economy of health is often disregarded, by placing wells, cisterns, and privies, so that persons, in the perspiration of labor, or the debility of disease, are obliged to go out of doors in all weathers. Figure 35, on page 276, shows the proper arrangement of such conveniences. The placing of an outside door, for common use, in a sitting-room, as is frequent at the West and South, is detrimental to health. In such cases, children, in their sports, or persons who labor, are thrown into perspiration, by exercise, the door is thrown open, a chill ensues, and fever, bowel complaints, or bilious attacks, are the result. A long window, extending down to the floor, which can be used as a door, in Summer, and be tightly closed, at the bottom, in Winter, secures all the benefits, without the evils, of an outside door.

Constructing houses, without open fireplaces in chambers, or any other mode of ventilation, is another sad violation of the economy of health. Feeble constitutions in children, and ill health to domestics, are often caused by this folly.

The economy of comfort is often violated, by arrangements made for domestics. Many a woman has been left to endure much hard labor and perplexity, because she chose to have money spent on handsome parlors and chambers, for company, which should have been devoted to providing a comfortable kitchen and chambers for domestics. Cramping the conveniences and comfort of a family, in order to secure elegant rooms, to show to company, is a weakness and folly, which it is hoped will every year become less common.

The construction of houses with reference to good taste, is a desirable, though less important, item. The beauty of a house depends very much upon propriety of proportions, color, and ornament. And it is always as cheap, and generally cheaper, to build a house in agreement with the rules of good taste, than to build an awkward and ill-proportioned one.

Plans of Houses and Domestic Conveniences.

The following plans are designed chiefly for persons in moderate circumstances, and have especial reference to young housekeepers.

Every year, as the prosperity of this Nation increases, good domestics will decrease, and young mothers are hereafter to be called to superintend and perform all branches of domestic business, to nurse children, direct ignorant domestics, attend the sick, entertain company, and fulfil all other family duties; and this, too, in a majority of cases, with delicate constitutions, or impaired health. Every man, therefore, in forming plans for a future residence, and every woman who has any influence in deciding such matters, ought to make these probabilities the chief basis of their calculations.[S]



The plan, exhibited in Figures 17, and 18, is that of a cottage, whose chief exterior beauty is its fine proportions. It should be painted white.

Fig. 17, is the elevation, or the front view of the exterior. Fig. 18, is the ground-plan, in which, an entire break in the wall, represents a door, and a break with a line across it, a window. When a cross x is put by a door, it indicates into which room the door swings, and where the hinges should be put, as the comfort of a fireside very much depends on the way in which the doors are hung. A scale of measurement is given at the bottom of the drawings, by which, the size of all parts can be measured. The ten small divisions, are each one foot. The longest divisions are ten feet each.

In the ground-plan, (Fig. 18,) a, is the porch, which projects enough to afford an entrance to the two adjacent rooms, and thus avoids the evil of an outside door to a sitting-room. If a door be wanted in these rooms, the front windows can be made to extend down to the floor, so as to serve as doors in Summer, and be tightly closed in Winter. The parlor, b, has the bedpress, k, and the closet, f, adjoining it. Figure 19 is intended to represent this side of the room.



The two large doors, in the centre, open into the bedpress, and one of the smaller ones into the closet, f. The other, can either be a false door, in order to secure symmetry, or else a real one, opening into the kitchen, j.

A room, thus arranged, can be made to serve as a genteel parlor, for company, during the day, when all these doors can be closed. At night, the doors of the bedpress being opened, it is changed to an airy bedroom, while the closets, f, f, serve to conceal all accommodations pertaining to a bedroom. The bedpress is just large enough to receive a bed; and under it, if need be, might be placed a trucklebed, for young children. The eating-room, c, has the small bedroom, d, adjoining it, which, by leaving the door open, at night, will be sufficiently airy for a sleeping-room. The kitchen, j, has a smaller bedroom, d, attached to it, which will hold a narrow single bed for a domestic; and, if need be, a narrow trucklebed under it, for a child. The staircase to the garret, can either be placed in the eating-room, or in the small entry. A plan for back accommodations is shown in Fig. 35, (page 276.) These should be placed in the rear of the kitchen, so as not to cover the window.

A house like this, will conveniently accommodate a family of six or eight persons; but some economy and contrivance will be needed, in storing away articles of dress and bedclothing. For this end, in the bedpress, k, of the parlor, b, (Fig. 18,) a wide shelf may be placed, two feet from the ceiling, where winter bedding, or folded clothing, can be stowed, while a short curtain in front, hung from the wall, will give a tidy look, and keep out dust. Under this shelf, if need be, pegs can be placed, to hold other articles; and a curtain be hung from the edge of the shelf, to conceal and protect them. Both the closets, f, f, should have shelves and drawers. The garret can have a window inserted in the roof, and thus be made serviceable for storage.



Figure 20 represents a fireplace and mantelpiece, in a style corresponding with the doors.

Such a cottage as this, could be built for from five hundred to nine hundred dollars, according as the expense of labor in the place, and the excellence of the materials and labor, may vary.



Figures 21 and 22, show the elevation and ground-plan of a cottage, in which the rooms are rather more agreeably arranged, than in the former plan. The elevation, (Fig. 21,) has a piazza, running across the whole front. This would cost nearly two hundred dollars; and, for this sum, another story might be added. An architect told the writer, that he could build the two-story house, (Fig. 23 and 24,) without a piazza, for the same sum, as this cottage, with one. This shows the poor economy of these appendages.

The ground-plan, (Fig. 22,) will be understood, from the explanation appended to it.



The parlor, d, is designed to have the doors (shown in Fig. 19) placed at the end, where is the bedpress, g. This will make it a handsome parlor, by day, and yet allow it to be used as a bedroom, at night. The bedpresses, in the other rooms, can have less expensive doors. A window is put in each bedpress, to secure proper ventilation. These should be opened, to air the bed, on leaving it. These can be fitted up with shelves, pegs, and curtains, as before described. If the elevation of the first cottage be preferred to this, as being less expensive, it can be used, by altering it a little; thus, instead of the projection for the entry, make a slight projection, of the width of one brick, to preserve the same general outside appearance. Let the windows extend down to the floor, and the beauty of symmetry will also be preserved.



The plans, shown in Fig. 23 and 24, are designed for families, where most domestic labor is to be done without the aid of domestics. The parlor, c, is for a sitting-room, and for company. The room, d, is the eating-room; where, also, the ironing and other nicer family work can be done. In the small room, g, either an oven and boiler, or a cooking-stove, can be placed. The elevation, shown in Fig. 25, is designed for the front of this house.



Figures 27 and 28, are plans of a two-story house, on a larger scale, with a concealed staircase, for front and back use. The elevation, Fig. 26, is designed for this plan.



Figures 29 and 30, are plans for a larger house, which can have either of the elevations, Fig. 25 or 26, adapted to it. These also have a concealed staircase, for front and back use. If a nursery, or bedroom, is wished, on the ground-floor, the back parlor, e, can be taken; in which case, the closets, i, i, are very useful. To prevent noise from reaching the front parlor, two sets of folding-doors, each side of the passage, o, could be placed. With this arrangement, these rooms could be used, sometimes as two parlors, opening into each other, by folding doors, and at other times, as a nursery and parlor. In this plan, the storeroom, h, and china-closet, i, between the kitchen and eating-room, are a great convenience.

Figures 31 and 32, present the plan of a Gothic cottage, which secures the most economy of labor and expense, with the greatest amount of convenience and comfort, which the writer has ever seen.



The elevation, (Fig. 31,) exhibits the front view. It has a recess in the central part, under which, is the door, with a window on each side of it. This forms a piazza; and into this, and a similar one at the back of the house, the two centre parlors open.



In the centre of the house, (see Fig. 32,) are the two parlors, b and c; the back one to be used as an eating-room. At X, can be placed, either a chimney, with doors on each side of the fireplace, or, (which is the most agreeable,) folding-doors, which can be thrown open in Summer, thus making a large saloon, through the house, from one piazza to the other. In this case, the parlors are warmed by a large stove, set near the folding-doors, which would easily warm both parlors and one or two adjacent rooms. In Winter, the outside doors, opening to the piazzas, should be fastened and calked, and the side entry, at d, be used. At e, is the nursery, with the bedpress, g, which, being closed by day, makes a retired parlor for the mother. At n, is the children's playroom and sleeping-room, adjoining the mother's room. At k, is the kitchen, adjacent to the eating-room, with the storeroom, e, and the closets, m, m, one for the eating-room, and one for the kitchen utensils. At i, is a parlor, which can be used for a study or library, by the master of the family; while the adjacent bedpress, j, renders it a convenient lodging-room, for guests. Another lodging-room, is at h; and in the attic, is space enough for several comfortable lodging-rooms. A window in the roof, on the front and back, like the one on Wadsworth's Cottage, (Fig. 33,) could be placed over the front door, to light the chambers in the attic. A double roof in the attic, with a current of air between, secures cool chambers. The closets are marked o, and the fireplaces p. The stairs to the attic are at q. By this arrangement, the housekeeper has her parlor, sleeping-room, nursery, and kitchen, on the same floor, while the rooms with bedpresses, enable her to increase either parlors or lodging-rooms, at pleasure, without involving the care of a very large and expensive house.

Figure 33, is the representation of a cottage, built by Daniel Wadsworth, Esq., in the vicinity of Hartford, Connecticut; and is on a plan, which, though much smaller, is very similar to the plan represented in Fig. 32. It serves to show the manner in which the roofs should be arranged, in Fig. 31, which, being seen exactly in front, does not give any idea of the mode of this arrangement. The elevation of Wadsworth's cottage, could be taken for the ground-plan shown in Fig. 32, if it be preferred to the other.

Both this cottage, and all the other plans, require a woodhouse, and the conveniences connected with it, which are represented in Fig. 35, (page 276.) For these Gothic cottages, an appendage of this sort should be in keeping with the rest, having windows, like those in the little Summer-house in the drawing, and battlements, as on the top of the wings of the barn. The ornaments on the front of the cottage, and the pillars of the portico, made simply of the trunks of small trees, give a beautiful rural finish, and their expense is trifling. In this picture, the trees could not be placed as they are in reality, because they would hide the buildings.



In arranging yards and grounds, the house should be set back, as in the drawing of Wadsworth's cottage; and, instead of planting shade-trees in straight lines, or scattering them about, as single trees, they should be arranged in clusters, with large openings for turf, flowers, and shrubbery, which never flourish well under the shade and dropping of trees. This also secures spots of dark and cool shade, even when trees are young.

In arranging shade-trees tastefully around such a place, a large cluster might be placed on each side of the gate; another on the circular grass-plot, at the side of the house; another at a front corner; and another at a back corner. Shrubbery, along the walks, and on the circular plot, in front, and flowers close to the house, would look well. The barn, also, should have clusters of trees near it; and occasional single trees, on the lawn, would give the graceful ease and variety seen in nature.

Figure 34, represents the accommodations for securing water with the least labor. It is designed for a well or cistern under ground. The reservoir, R, may be a half hogshead, or something larger, which may be filled once a day, from the pump, by a man, or boy.



The conductor, C, should be a lead pipe, which, instead of going over the boiler, should be bent along behind it. From S, a branch sets off, which conducts the cold water to the sink in the kitchen, where it discharges with a cock. H, is a conductor from the lower part of the boiler, made of copper, or some metal not melted by great heat; and at Y, a cock is placed, to draw off hot water. Then the conductor passes to the bathing-tub, where is another cock. At Z, the water is let off from the bathing-tub. By this arrangement, great quantities of hot and cold water can be used, with no labor in carrying, and with very little labor in raising it.

In case a cistern is built above ground, it can be placed as the reservoir is, and then all the labor of pumping is saved.



Fig. 35, is the plan of a building for back-door accommodations. At A, C, D, E, are accommodations shown in Fig. 34. The bathing-room is adjacent to the boiler and reservoir, to receive the water. The privy, P, P, should have two apartments, as indispensable to healthful habits in a family. A window should be placed at O, and a door, with springs or a weight to keep it shut, should be at V. Keeping the window open, and the door shut, will prevent any disagreeable effects in the house. At G, is the kitchen, and at F, the sink, which should have a conductor and cock from the reservoir. H, is the place for wood, where it should in Summer be stored for Winter. A bin, for coal, and also a brick receiver, for ashes, should be in this part. Every woman should use her influence to secure all these conveniences; even if it involves the sacrifice of the piazza, or "the best parlor."



Fig. 36, is a latticed portico, which is cheap, and answers all the purposes of a more expensive one. It should be solid, overhead, to turn off the rain, and creepers should be trained over it. A simple latticed arch, over a door, covered with creepers, is very cheap, and serves instead of an expensive portico.



Fig. 37, represents a sliding closet, or dumb waiter, a convenience which saves much labor, when the kitchen is in the basement. The two closets should be made wide, and broad enough to receive a common waiter. The chain, or rope, which passes over the wheels, should branch, at X, so as to keep the closet from rubbing in its movements, when the dishes are not set exactly in the middle, or are of unequal weights. By this method, almost every thing needed to pass between the kitchen and parlor can be sent up and down, without any steps. If the kitchen is not directly under the eating-room, the sliding closet can be placed in the vicinity of one or both. Where the place is not wide enough for two closets like these, they can be made wider than they are long, say one foot and six inches long, and three feet wide. A strip of wood, an inch broad, should be fastened on the front and back of the shelves, to prevent the dishes from being broken when they are set on carelessly.

There is nothing, which so much improves the appearance of a house and the premises, as painting or whitewashing the tenements and fences. The following receipts for whitewashing, answer the same purpose for wood, brick, and stone, as oil-paint, and are much cheaper. The first, is the receipt used for the President's house, at Washington, improved by further experiments. The second, is a cheaper one, which the writer has known to succeed, in a variety of cases, lasting as long, and looking as well, as white oil-paint.

Receipt.

Take half a bushel of unslacked lime, and slack it with boiling water, covering it, during the process. Strain it, and add a peck of salt, dissolved in warm water; three pounds of ground rice, boiled to a thin paste, put in boiling hot; half a pound of powdered Spanish whiting; and a pound of clear glue, dissolved in warm water. Mix, and let it stand several days. Heat it in a kettle, on a portable furnace, and apply it as hot as possible, with a painter's or whitewash-brush.

Another.

Make whitewash, in the usual way, except that the water used should be hot, and nearly saturated with salt. Then stir in four handfuls of fine sand, to make it thick like cream. Coloring matter can be added to both, making a light stone-color, a cream-color, or a light buff, which are most suitable for buildings.

FOOTNOTES:

[R] Many houses are now heated, by a furnace in the cellar, which receives pure air from out of doors, heats it, and sends it into several rooms, while water is evaporated to prevent the air from becoming dry. The most perfect one the writer has seen, is constructed by Mr. Fowler, of Hartford. This method secures well-ventilated rooms, and is very economical, where several rooms are to be warmed.

[S] Those, who are amateurs in architecture, in judging of these designs, must take into consideration, that this is a work on domestic economy, and that matters of taste, have necessarily been made subordinate to points, involving economy of health, comfort, and expense. Still, it is believed, that good taste has been essentially preserved, in most of these designs.



CHAPTER XXV.

ON FIRES AND LIGHTS.

A shallow fireplace saves wood, and gives out more heat than a deeper one. A false back, of brick, may be put up in a deep fireplace. Hooks, for holding up the shovel and tongs, a hearth-brush and bellows, and brass knobs to hang them on, should be furnished to every fireplace. An iron bar, across the andirons, aids in keeping the fire safe, and in good order. Steel furniture is more genteel, and more easily kept in order, than that made of brass.

Use green wood, for logs, and mix green and dry wood for the fire; and then the woodpile will last much longer. Walnut, maple, hickory, and oak, wood, are best, chestnut or hemlock is bad, because it snaps. Do not buy a load, in which there are many crooked sticks. Learn how to measure and calculate the solid contents of a load, so as not to be cheated. Have all your wood split, and piled under cover, for Winter. Have the green wood logs in one pile, dry wood in another, oven-wood in another, kindlings and chips in another, and a supply of charcoal to use for broiling and ironing, in another place. Have a brick bin, for ashes, and never allow them to be put in wood. When quitting fires, at night, never leave a burning stick across the andirons, nor on its end, without quenching it. See that no fire adheres to the broom or brush; remove all articles from the fire, and have two pails, filled with water, in the kitchen, where they will not freeze.



Stoves and Grates.

Rooms, heated by stoves, should always have some opening for the admission of fresh air, or they will be injurious to health. The dryness of the air, which they occasion, should be remedied, either by placing a vessel, filled with water, on the stove, or by hooking a long and narrow pan, filled with water, in front of the grate; otherwise, the lungs or eyes may be injured. A large number of plants in a room, prevents this dryness of the air. Openings for pipes, through floors, partitions, or fireboards, should be surrounded by tin, to prevent their taking fire. Lengthening a pipe, will increase its draught.

For those, who use anthracite coal, that which is broken or screened, is best for grates, and the nut-coal, for small stoves. Three tons are sufficient, in the Middle States, and four tons in the Northern, to keep one fire through the Winter. That which is bright, hard, and clean, is best; and that which is soft, porous, and covered with damp dust, is poor. It will be well to provide two barrels of charcoal, for kindling, to every ton of anthracite coal. Grates, for bituminous coal, should have a flue nearly as deep as the grate; and the bars should be round, and not close together. The better draught there is, the less coal-dust is made. Every grate should be furnished with a poker, shovel, tongs, blower, coal-scuttle, and holder for the blower. The latter may be made of woollen, covered with old silk, and hung near the fire.

Coal-stoves should be carefully put up, as cracks, in the pipe, especially in sleeping rooms, are dangerous.

On Lights.

Lamps are better than candles, as they give a steadier light, and do not scatter grease, like tallow candles. The best oil, is clear, and nearly colorless. Winter-strained oil should be used in cold weather. Lard is a good substitute for oil, for astral and other large lamps. It is cheaper, burns clearer, and has a less disagreeable smell. It will not burn so well in small lamps, as in large ones. Melt it every morning, in an old pitcher, kept for the purpose. Oil, long kept, grows thick, and does not burn well. It is therefore best not to buy it in large quantities. It should never be left standing in lamps, for several days, as this spoils it, and often injures the lamps. Camphine is a kind of oil manufactured in New York, which does not smell disagreeably, nor make grease-spots, and gives a brighter light than the best oil. Cleanse the insides of lamps and oil-cans, with pearlash-water. Be careful to drain them well, and not to let any gilding, or bronze, be injured by the pearlash-water coming in contact with it. Put one tablespoonful of pearlash to one quart of water.

The care of lamps requires so much attention and discretion, that many ladies choose to do this work, themselves, rather than trust it with domestics. To do it properly, provide the following things:—An old waiter, to hold all the articles used; a lamp-filler, with a spout, small at the end, and turned up to prevent oil from dripping; a ball of wickyarn, and a basket to hold it; a lamp-trimmer, made for the purpose, or a pair of sharp scissors; a small soap-cup and soap; some pearlash, in a broad-mouthed bottle; and several soft cloths, to wash the articles, and towels, to wipe them. If every thing, after being used, is cleansed from oil, and then kept neatly, it will not be so unpleasant a task, as it usually is, to take care of lamps.

Wash the shade of an astral lamp, once a week, and the glass chimney oftener. Take the lamp to pieces, and cleanse it, once a month. Keep dry fingers, in trimming lamps. To raise the wick of an astral lamp, turn it to the right; to lower it, turn it to the left. Trim it, after it has been once used; and, in lighting it, raise it to the proper height, as soon as may be, or it will either smoke, or form a crust. Renew the wick, when only an inch and a half long. Close-woven wicks are better than those which are loose. Dipping wicks in vinegar, makes them burn clearer than they otherwise would. Plain shades do not injure the eyes, like cut ones; and prints and pictures appear better by them, than by the others. Lamps should be lighted with a strip of folded or rolled paper, kept on the mantelpiece. Weak eyes should always be shaded from the lights. Small screens, made for the purpose, should be kept at hand. A person with weak eyes, can use them, safely, much longer, when they are shaded from the glare of the light, than if they are not so. Fill the entry-lamp, every day, and cleanse and fill night-lanterns, twice a week, if used often. Provide small, one-wicked lamps, to carry about; and broad-bottomed lamps, for the kitchen, as these are not easily upset.

A good night-lamp is made, with a small one-wicked lamp and a roll of tin to set over it. Have some holes made in the bottom of this cover, and it can then be used to heat articles. Very cheap floating tapers, can be bought, to burn in a teacup of oil through the night.

Wickyarn, drawn repeatedly through melted wax, till stiff and smooth, makes a good taper, for use in sealing letters. It can be twined in fanciful forms, and kept on the writing-table.

To make Candles.

The nicest candles, are run in moulds. For this purpose, melt together one quarter of a pound of white wax, one quarter of an ounce of camphor, two ounces of alum, and ten ounces of suet or mutton tallow. Soak the wicks, in lime-water and saltpetre, and, when dry, fix them in the moulds, and pour in the melted tallow. Let them remain one night, to cool, then warm them, a little, to loosen them, draw them out, and, when hard, put them in a box, in a dry and cool place.

To make dipped candles, cut the wicks of the right length, double them over rods, and twist them. They should first be dipped in lime-water, or vinegar, and dried. Melt the tallow in a large kettle, filling it to the top with hot water, when the tallow is melted. Put in wax, and powdered alum, to harden them. Keep the tallow hot, over a portable furnace, and fill up the kettle, with hot water, as fast as the tallow is used up. Lay two long strips of narrow board, on which to hang the rods; and set flat pans under, on the floor, to catch the grease. Take several rods at once, and wet the wicks in the tallow; and, when cool, straighten and smooth them. Then dip them, as fast as they cool, until they become of the proper size. Plunge them obliquely, and not perpendicularly; and when the bottoms are too large, hold them in the hot grease, till a part melts off. Let them remain one night, to cool; then cut off the bottoms, and keep them in a dry, cool place. Cheap lights are made, by dipping rushes in tallow.



CHAPTER XXVI.

ON WASHING.

There is nothing, which tends more effectually to secure good washing, than a full supply of all conveniences; and among these, none is more important, than an abundance of warm and cold water: but, if this be obtained, and heated, at a great expense of time and labor, it will be used in stinted measure. The accommodations described on page 275, (Fig. 34,) are very convenient in this respect.

Articles to be provided for Washing.

A plenty of soft water is a very important item. When this cannot be had, ley or soda can be put in hard water, to soften it; care being used not to put in so much, as to injure the hands and clothes. Two wash-forms are needed; one for the two tubs in which to put the suds, and the other for blueing and starching-tubs. Four tubs, of different sizes, are necessary; also, a large wooden dipper, (as metal is apt to rust;) two or three pails; a grooved wash-board; a clothes-line, (sea-grass, or horse-hair is best;) a wash-stick to move clothes, when boiling, and a wooden fork to take them out. Soap-dishes, made to hook on the tubs, save soap and time. Provide, also, a clothes-bag, in which to boil clothes; an indigo-bag, of double flannel; a starch-strainer, of coarse linen; a bottle of ox-gall for calicoes; a supply of starch, neither sour nor musty; several dozens of clothes-pins, which are cleft sticks, used to fasten clothes on the line; a bottle of dissolved gum Arabic; two clothes-baskets; and a brass or copper kettle, for boiling clothes, as iron is apt to rust. A closet, for keeping all these things, is a great convenience. It may be made six feet high, three feet deep, and four feet wide. The tubs and pails can be set on the bottom of this, on their sides, one within another. Four feet from the bottom, have a shelf placed, on which to put the basket of clothes-pins, the line, soap-dishes, dipper, and clothes-fork. Above this, have another shelf, for the bottles, boxes, &c. The shelves should reach out only half way from the back, and nails should be put at the sides, for hanging the wash-stick, clothes-bag, starch-bag, and indigo-bag. The ironing-conveniences might be kept in the same closet, by having the lower shelf raised a little, and putting a deep drawer under it, to hold the ironing-sheets, holders, &c. A lock and key should be put on the closet. If the mistress of the family requests the washerwoman to notify her, when she is through, and then ascertains if all these articles are put in their places, it will prove useful. Tubs, pails, and all hooped wooden ware, should be kept out of the sun, and in a cool place, or they will fall to pieces.

Common Mode of Washing.

Assort the clothes, and put them in soak, the night before. Never pour hot water on them, as it sets the dirt. In assorting clothes, put the flannels in one lot, the colored clothes in another, the coarse white ones in a third, and the fine clothes in a fourth lot. Wash the fine clothes in one tub of suds; and throw them, when wrung, into another. Then wash them, in the second suds, turning them wrong side out. Put them in the boiling-bag, and boil them in strong suds, for half an hour, and not much more. Move them, while boiling, with the clothes-stick. Take them out of the boiling-bag, and put them into a tub of water, and rub the dirtiest places, again, if need be. Throw them into the rinsing-water, and then wring them out, and put them into the blueing-water. Put the articles to be stiffened, into a clothes-basket, by themselves, and, just before hanging out, dip them in starch, clapping it in, so as to have them equally stiff, in all parts. Hang white clothes in the sun, and colored ones, (wrong side out,) in the shade. Fasten them with clothes-pins. Then wash the coarser white articles, in the same manner. Then wash the colored clothes. These must not be soaked, nor have ley or soda put in the water, and they ought not to lie wet long before hanging out, as it injures their colors. Beef's-gall, one spoonful to two pailfuls of suds, improves calicoes. Lastly, wash the flannels, in suds as hot as the hand can bear. Never rub on soap, as this shrinks them in spots. Wring them out of the first suds, and throw them into another tub of hot suds, turning them wrong side out. Then throw them into hot blueing-water. Do not put blueing into suds, as it makes specks in the flannel. Never leave flannels long in water, nor put them in cold or lukewarm water. Before hanging them out, shake and stretch them. Some housekeepers have a close closet, made with slats across the top. On these slats, they put their flannels, when ready to hang out, and then burn brimstone under them, for ten minutes. It is but little trouble, and keeps the flannels as white as new. Wash the colored flannels, and hose, after the white, adding more hot water. Some persons dry woollen hose on stocking-boards, shaped like a foot and leg, with strings to tie them on the line. This keeps them from shrinking, and makes them look better than if ironed. It is also less work, than to iron them properly.

Bedding should be washed in long days, and in hot weather. Pound blankets in two different tubs or barrels of hot suds, first well mixing the soap and water. Rinse in hot suds; and, after wringing, let two persons shake them thoroughly, and then hang them out. If not dry, at night, fold them, and hang them out the next morning. Bedquilts should be pounded in warm suds; and, after rinsing, be wrung as dry as possible. Bolsters and pillows can be pounded in hot suds, without taking out the feathers, rinsing them in fair water. It is usually best, however, for nice feathers, to take them out, wash them, and dry them on a garret floor. Cotton comforters should have the cases taken off and washed. Wash bedticks, after the feathers are removed, like other things. Empty straw beds once a year.

The following cautions, in regard to calicoes, are useful. Never wash them in very warm water; and change the water, when it appears dingy, or the light parts will look dirty. Never rub on soap; but remove grease with French chalk, starch, magnesia, or Wilmington clay. Make starch for them, with coffee-water, to prevent any whitish appearance. Glue is good for stiffening calicoes. When laid aside, not to be used, all stiffening should be washed out, or they will often be injured. Never let calicoes freeze, in drying. Some persons use bran-water, (four quarts of wheat-bran to two pails of water,) and no soap, for calicoes; washing and rinsing in the bran-water. Potato-water is equally good. Take eight peeled and grated potatoes to one gallon of water.

Soda-Washing.

A very great saving in labor is secured, by soda-washing. There have been mistakes made in receipts, and in modes of doing it, which have caused a prejudice against it; but if the soap be rightly made, and rightly used, it certainly saves one half the labor and time of ordinary washing.

Receipt for Soda-Soap.

Take eight pounds of bar-soap, eight pounds of coarse soda, (the sub-carbonate,) ten gallons of soft water, boiled two hours, stirring it often. This is to be cooled, and set away for use. In washing, take a pound of this soap, to the largest pail of water, and heat till it boils. Having previously soaked the white clothes, in warm, not hot, water, put them in this boiling mixture, and let them boil one hour and no more. Take them out, draining them well, and put them in a tub, half full of soft water. Turn them wrong side out; rub the soiled places, till they look clean; then put them into blue rinsing-water, and wring them out. They are then ready to hang out. Some persons use another rinsing-water. The colored clothes and flannels must not be washed in this way. The fine clothes may be first boiled in this water; it may then be used for coarser clothes; and afterward, the brown towels, and other articles of that nature, may be boiled in the same water. After this, the water which remains, is still useful, for washing floors; and then, the suds is a good manure to put around plants.

It is best to prepare, at once, the whole quantity of water to be used. Take out about one third, and set it by; and every time a fresh supply of clothes is put in, use a portion of this, to supply the waste of a former boiling.

Modes of Washing Various Articles.

Brown Linens, or Muslins, of tea, drab, or olive, colors, look best, washed in hay-water. Put in hay enough, to color the water like new brown linen. Wash them first in lukewarm, fair water, without soap, (removing grease with French chalk,) then wash and rinse them in the hay-water.

Nankeens look best, washed in suds, with a teacup of ley added for each pailful. Iron on the wrong side. Soak new nankeens in ley, for one night, and it sets the color perfectly.

Woollen Table-Covers and Woollen Shawls, may be washed thus: Remove grease as before directed. If there be stains in the articles, take them out with spirits of hartshorn. Wash the things in two portions of hot suds, made of white soap. Do not wring them, but fold them and press the water out, catching it in a tub, under a table. Shake, stretch, and dry, neither by the sun nor a fire, and do not let them freeze, in drying. Sprinkle them three hours before ironing, and fold and roll them tight. Iron them heavily on the wrong side. Woollen yarn, should be washed in very hot water, putting in a teacupful of ley, and no soap, to half a pailful of water. Rinse till the water comes off clear.

New Black Worsted and Woollen Hose, should be soaked all night, and washed in hot suds, with beef's-gall, a tablespoonful to half a pail of water. Rinse till no color comes out. Iron on the wrong side.

To Cleanse Gentlemen's Broadcloths. The common mode, is, to shake, and brush the articles, and rip out linings and pockets; then to wash them in strong suds, adding a teacupful of ley, using white soap for light cloth; rolling and then pressing, instead of wringing, them; when dry, sprinkling them, and letting them lie all night; and ironing on the wrong side, or with a thin dark cloth over the article, until perfectly dry. But a far better way, which the writer has repeatedly tried, with unfailing success, is the following: Take one beef's-gall, half a pound of salaeratus, and four gallons of warm water. Lay the article on a table, and scour it thoroughly, in every part, with a clothes-brush, dipped in this mixture. The collar of a coat, and the grease-spots, (previously marked by stitches of white thread,) must be repeatedly brushed. Then, take the article, and rinse it up and down in the mixture. Then, rinse it up and down in a tub of soft cold water. Then, without wringing or pressing, hang it to drain and dry. Fasten a coat up by the collar. When perfectly dry, it is sometimes the case, with coats, that nothing more is needed. In other cases, it is necessary to dampen the parts, which look wrinkled, with a sponge, and either pull them smooth, with the fingers, or press them with an iron, having a piece of bombazine, or thin woollen cloth, between the iron and the article.

To manufacture Ley, Soap, Starch, and other Articles used in Washing.

To make Ley. Provide a large tub, made of pine or ash, and set it on a form, so high, that a tub can stand under it. Make a hole, an inch in diameter, near the bottom, on one side. Lay bricks, inside, about this hole, and straw over them. To every seven bushels of ashes, add two gallons of unslacked lime, and throw in the ashes and lime in alternate layers. While putting in the ashes and lime, pour on boiling water, using three or four pailfuls. After this, add a pailful of cold soft water, once an hour, till all the ashes appear to be well soaked. Catch the drippings, in a tub, and try its strength with an egg. If the egg rise so as to show a circle as large as a ten cent piece, the strength is right; if it rise higher, the ley must be weakened by water; if not so high, the ashes are not good, and the whole process must be repeated, putting in fresh ashes, and running the weak ley through the new ashes, with some additional water. Quick-ley is made by pouring one gallon of boiling soft water on three quarts of ashes, and straining it. Oak ashes are best.

To make Soft-Soap. Save all drippings and fat, melt them, and set them away, in cakes. Some persons keep, for soap-grease, a half barrel, with weak ley in it, and a cover over it. To make soft-soap, take the proportion of one pailful of ley to three pounds of fat. Melt the fat, and pour in the ley, by degrees. Boil it steadily, through the day, till it is ropy. If not boiled enough, on cooling, it will turn to ley and sediment. While boiling, there should always be a little oil on the surface. If this does not appear, add more grease. If there is too much grease, on cooling, it will rise, and can be skimmed off. Try it, by cooling a small quantity. When it appears like gelly, on becoming cold, it is done. It must then be put in a cool place and often stirred.

To make cold Soft-Soap, melt thirty pounds of grease, put it in a barrel, add four pailfuls of strong ley, and stir it up thoroughly. Then gradually add more ley, till the barrel is nearly full, and the soap looks about right.

To make Potash-Soap, melt thirty-nine pounds of grease, and put it in a barrel. Take twenty-nine pounds of light ash-colored potash, (the reddish-colored will spoil the soap,) and pour hot water on it; then pour it off into the grease, stirring it well. Continue thus, till all the potash is melted. Add one pailful of cold water, stirring it a great deal, every day, till the barrel be full, and then it is done. This is the cheapest and best kind of soap. It is best to sell ashes and buy potash. The soap is better, if it stand a year before it is used; therefore make two barrels at once.

To make Hard White Soap, take fifteen pounds of lard, or suet; and, when boiling, add, slowly, five gallons of ley, mixed with one gallon of water. Cool a small portion; and, if no grease rise, it is done: if grease do rise, add ley, and boil till no grease rises. Then add three quarts of fine salt, and boil it; if this do not harden well, on cooling, add more salt. Cool it, and if it is to be perfumed, melt it next day, put in the perfume, and then run it in moulds, or cut it in cakes. Common Hard Soap, is made in the same way, by using common fat.

To manufacture Starch, cleanse a peck of unground wheat, and soak it, for several days, in soft water. When quite soft, remove the husks, with the hand, and the soft parts will settle. Pour off the water, and replace it, every day, with that which is fresh, stirring it well. When, after stirring and settling, the water is clear, it is done. Then strain off the water, and dry the starch, for several days, in the sun. If the water be permitted to remain too long, it sours, and the starch is poor. If the starch be not well dried, it grows musty.



CHAPTER XXVII.

ON STARCHING, IRONING, AND CLEANSING.

To prepare Starch. Take four tablespoonfuls of starch; put in as much water; and rub it, till all lumps are removed. Then, add half a cup of cold water. Pour this into a quart of boiling water, and boil it for half an hour, adding a piece of spermaceti, or a lump of salt, or sugar, as large as a hazelnut. Strain it, and put in a very little blueing. Thin it with hot water.

Glue and Gum-Starch. Put a piece of glue, four inches square, into three quarts of water, boil it, and keep it in a bottle, corked up. Dissolve four ounces of gum Arabic, in a quart of hot water, and set it away, in a bottle, corked. Use the glue for calicoes, and the gum for silks and muslins, both to be mixed with water, at discretion.

Beef's-Gall. Send a junk-bottle to the butcher, and have several gall-bladders emptied into it. Keep it salted, and in a cool place. Some persons perfume it; but fresh air removes the unpleasant smell which it gives, when used for clothes.

Directions for Starching Muslins and Laces.

Many ladies clap muslins, then dry them, and afterwards sprinkle them. This saves time. Others clap them, till nearly dry, then fold and cover, and then iron them. Iron wrought muslins on soft flannel, and on the wrong side.

To do up Laces, nicely, sew a clean piece of muslin around a long bottle, and roll the lace on it; pulling out the edge, and rolling it so that the edge will turn in, and be covered, as you roll. Fill the bottle with water, and then boil it, for an hour, in a suds made with white soap. Rinse it in fair water, a little blued; dry it in the sun; and, if any stiffening is wished, use thin starch, or gum Arabic. When dry, fold and press it, between white papers, in a large book. It improves the lace, to wet it with sweet-oil, after it is rolled on the bottle, and before boiling in the suds. Blond laces can be whitened, by rolling them on a bottle, in this way, and then setting the bottle in the sun, in a dish of cold suds made with white soap, wetting it thoroughly, and changing the suds, every day. Do this, for a week or more; then rinse, in fair water; dry it on the bottle, in the sun; and stiffen it with white gum Arabic. Lay it away in loose folds. Lace veils can be whitened, by laying them in flat dishes, in suds made with white soap; then rinsing, and stiffening them with gum Arabic, stretching them, and pinning them on a sheet, to dry.

ON IRONING.

Articles to be provided for Ironing.

A settee, or settle, made so that it can be used for an ironing-table, is a great convenience. It may be made of pine, and of the following dimensions: length, five feet and six inches; width of the seat, one foot and nine inches; height of the seat, one foot and three inches; height of the sides, (or arms of the seat,) two feet and four inches; height of the back, five feet and three inches. The back should be made with hinges, of the height of the sides or arms, so that it can be turned down, and rest on them, and thus become an ironing-table. The back is to be fastened up, behind, with long iron hooks and staples. The seat should be made with two lids, opening into two boxes, or partitions, in one of which, can be kept the ironing-sheets and holders, and in the other, the other articles used in ironing. It can be stained of a cherry-color; put on casters, so as to move easily; and be provided with two cushions, stuffed with hay and covered with dark woollen. It thus serves as a comfortable seat, for Winter, protecting the back from cold.

Where a settee, of this description, is not provided, a large ironing-board, made so as not to warp, should be kept, and used only for this purpose, to be laid, when used, on a table. Provide, also, the following articles: A woollen ironing-blanket, and a linen or cotton sheet, to spread over it; a large fire, of charcoal and hard wood, (unless furnaces or stoves are used;) a hearth, free from cinders and ashes, a piece of sheet-iron, in front of the fire, on which to set the irons, while heating; (this last saves many black spots from careless ironers;) three or four holders, made of woollen, and covered with old silk, as these do not easily take fire; two iron rings, or iron-stands, on which to set the irons, and small pieces of board to put under them, to prevent scorching the sheet; linen or cotton wipers; and a piece of beeswax, to rub on the irons when they are smoked. There should be, at least, three irons for each person ironing, and a small and large clothes-frame, on which to air the fine and coarse clothes.

A bosom-board, on which to iron shirt-bosoms, should be made, one foot and a half long, and nine inches wide, and covered with white flannel. A skirt-board on which to iron frock-skirts, should be made, five feet long, and two feet wide at one end, tapering to one foot and three inches wide, at the other end. This should be covered with flannel; and will save much trouble, in ironing nice dresses. The large end may be put on the table, and the other, on the back of a chair. Both these boards should have cotton covers, made to fit them; and these should be changed and washed, when dirty. These boards are often useful, when articles are to be ironed or pressed, in a chamber or parlor. Provide, also, a press-board, for broadcloth, two feet long, and four inches wide at one end, tapering to three inches wide, at the other.

A fluting-iron, called, also, a patent Italian iron, saves much labor, in ironing ruffles neatly. A crimping-iron, will crimp ruffles beautifully, with very little time or trouble. Care must be used, with the latter, or it will cut the ruffles. A trial should be made, with old muslins; and, when the iron is screwed in the right place, it must be so kept, and not altered without leave from the housekeeper. If the lady of the house will provide all these articles, see that the fires are properly made, the ironing-sheets evenly put on and properly pinned, the clothes-frames dusted, and all articles kept in their places, she will do much towards securing good ironing.

On Sprinkling, Folding, and Ironing.

Wipe the dust from the ironing-board, and lay it down, to receive the clothes, which should be sprinkled with clear water, and laid in separate piles, one of colored, one of common, and one of fine articles, and one of flannels. Fold the fine things, and roll them in a towel, and then fold the rest, turning them all right side outward. The colored clothes should be laid separate from the rest, and ought not to lie long damp, as it injures the colors. The sheets and table linen should be shaken, stretched, and folded, by two persons. Iron lace and needlework on the wrong side, and carry them away, as soon as dry. Iron calicoes with irons which are not very hot, and generally on the right side, as they thus keep clean for a longer time. In ironing a frock, first do the waist, then the sleeves, then the skirt. Keep the skirt rolled, while ironing the other parts, and set a chair, to hold the sleeves, while ironing the skirt, unless a skirt-board be used. In ironing a shirt, first do the back, then the sleeves, then the collar and bosom, and then the front. Iron silk on the wrong side, when quite damp, with an iron which is not very hot. Light colors are apt to change and fade. Iron velvet, by turning up the face of the iron, and after dampening the wrong side of the velvet, draw it over the face of the iron, holding it straight, and not biased.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

ON WHITENING, CLEANSING, AND DYEING.

To Whiten Articles, and Remove Stains from them.

Wet white clothes in suds, and lay them on the grass, in the sun. Lay muslins in suds made with white soap, in a flat dish; set this in the sun, changing the suds, every day. Whiten tow-cloth, or brown linen, by keeping it in ley, through the night, laying it out in the sun, and wetting it with fair water, as fast as it dries.

Scorched articles can often be whitened again, by laying them in the sun, wet with suds. Where this does not answer, put a pound of white soap in a gallon of milk, and boil the article in it. Another method, is, to chop and extract the juice from two onions, and boil this with half a pint of vinegar, an ounce of white soap, and two ounces of fuller's earth. Spread this, when cool, on the scorched part, and, when dry, wash it off, in fair water. Mildew may be removed, by dipping the article in sour buttermilk, laying it in the sun, and, after it is white, rinsing it in fair water. Soap and chalk are also good; also, soap and starch, adding half as much salt as there is starch, together with the juice of a lemon. Stains in linen can often be removed, by rubbing on soft soap, then putting on a starch paste, and drying in the sun, renewing it several times. Wash off all the soap and starch, in cold, fair water.

Mixtures for Removing Stains and Grease.

Stain-Mixture. Half an ounce of oxalic acid, in a pint of soft water. This can be kept in a corked bottle, and is infallible in removing iron-rust, and ink-stains. It is very poisonous. The article must be spread with this mixture over the steam of hot water, and wet several times. This will also remove indelible ink. The article must be washed, or the mixture will injure it.

Another Stain-Mixture is made, by mixing one ounce of sal ammoniac, one ounce of salt of tartar, and one pint of soft water.

To remove Grease. Mix four ounces of fuller's earth, half an ounce of pearlash, and lemon-juice enough to make a stiff paste, which can be dried in balls, and kept for use. Wet the greased spot with cold water, rub it with the ball, dry it, and then rinse it with fair cold water. This is for white articles. For silks, and worsteds, use French chalk, which can be procured of the apothecaries. That which is soft and white, is best. Scrape it on the greased spot, and let it lie for a day and night. Then renew it, till the spot disappears. Wilmington clay-balls, are equally good. Ink-spots can often be removed from white clothes, by rubbing on common tallow, leaving it for a day or two, and then washing, as usual. Grease can be taken out of wall-paper, by making a paste of potter's clay, water and ox-gall, and spreading it on the paper. When dry, renew it, till the spot disappears.

Stains on floors, from soot, or stove-pipes, can be removed, by washing the spot in sulphuric acid and water. Stains, in colored silk dresses, can often be removed, by pure water. Those made by acids, tea, wine, and fruits, can often be removed, by spirits of hartshorn, diluted with an equal quantity of water. Sometimes, it must be repeated, several times.

Tar, Pitch, and Turpentine, can be removed, by putting the spot in sweet-oil, or by spreading tallow on it, and letting it remain for twenty-four hours. Then, if the article be linen or cotton, wash it, as usual; if it be silk or worsted, rub it with ether, or spirits of wine.

Lamp-Oil can be removed, from floors, carpets, and other articles, by spreading upon the stain a paste, made of fuller's earth or potter's clay, and renewing it, when dry, till the stain is removed. If gall be put into the paste, it will preserve the colors from injury. When the stain has been removed, carefully brush off the paste, with a soft brush.

Oil-Paint can be removed, by rubbing it with very pure spirits of turpentine. The impure spirit leaves a grease-spot. Wax can be removed, by scraping it off, and then holding a red-hot poker near the spot. Spermaceti may be removed by scraping it off, then putting a paper over the spot, and applying a warm iron. If this does not answer, rub on spirits of wine.

Ink-Stains, in carpets and woollen table-covers, can be removed, by washing the spot in a liquid, composed of one teaspoonful of oxalic acid dissolved in a teacupful of warm (not hot) water, and then rinsing in cold water.

Stains on Varnished Articles, which are caused by cups of hot water, can be removed, by rubbing them with lamp-oil, and then with alcohol. Ink-stains can be taken out of mahogany, by one teaspoonful of oil of vitriol mixed with one tablespoonful of water, or by oxalic acid and water. These must be brushed over quickly, and then washed off with milk.

Modes of Cleansing Various Articles.

Silk Handkerchiefs and Ribands can be cleansed, by using French chalk to take out the grease, and then sponging them, on both sides, with lukewarm fair water. Stiffen them with gum Arabic, and press them between white paper, with an iron not very hot. A tablespoonful of spirits of wine to three quarts of water, improves it.

Silk Hose, or Silk Gloves, should be washed in warm suds made with white soap, and rinsed in cold water; they should then be stretched and rubbed, with a hard-rolled flannel, till they are quite dry. Ironing them, very much injures their looks. Washleather articles should have the grease removed from them, by French chalk, or magnesia; they should then be washed in warm suds, and rinsed in cold water. White Kid Gloves should have the grease removed from them, as above directed. They should then be brushed, with a soft brush, and a mixture of fuller's earth and magnesia. In an hour after, rub them with flannel, dipped in bran and powdered whiting. Colored or Hoskin's gloves can be cleansed, very nicely, by pure spirits of turpentine, put on with a woollen cloth, and rubbed from wrist to fingers. Hang them for several days in the air, and all the unpleasant smell will be removed. Gentlemen's white gloves should be washed with a sponge, in white-soapsuds; then wiped, and dried on the hands. Swan's-down tippets, and capes, should be washed in white-soapsuds, squeezing, and not rubbing them; then rinse them in two waters, and shake and stretch them while drying. Ostrich feathers can also be thus washed. Stiffen them, with starch, wet in cold water and not boiled. Shake them in the air, till nearly dry, then hold them before the fire, and curl them with dull scissors, giving each fibre a twitch, turning it inward, and holding it so for a moment.

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