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The American Woman's Home
by Catherine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe
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But this distortion brings upon woman peculiar distresses. The pressure of the whole superincumbent mass on the pelvic or lower organs induces sufferings proportioned in acuteness to the extreme delicacy and sensitiveness of the parts thus crushed. And the intimate connection of these organs with the brain and whole nervous system renders injuries thus inflicted the causes of the most extreme anguish, both of body and mind. This evil is becoming so common, not only among married women, but among young girls, as to be a just cause for universal alarm.

How very common these sufferings are, few but the medical profession can realize, because they are troubles that must be concealed. Many a woman is moving about in uncomplaining agony who, with any other trouble involving equal suffering, would be on her bed surrounded by sympathizing friends.

The terrible sufferings that are sometimes thus induced can never be conceived of, or at all appreciated from, any use of language. Nothing that the public can be made to believe on this subject will ever equal the reality. Not only mature persons and mothers, but fair young girls sometimes, are shut up for months and years as helpless and suffering invalids from this cause. This may be found all over the land. And there frequently is a horrible extremity of suffering in certain forms of this evil, which no woman of feeble constitution can ever be certain may not be her doom. Not that in all cases this extremity is involved, but none can say who will escape it.

In regard to this, if one must choose for a friend or a child, on the one hand, the horrible torments inflicted by savage Indians or cruel inquisitors on their victims, or, on the other, the protracted agonies that result from such deformities and displacements, sometimes the former would be a merciful exchange.

And yet this is the fate that is coming to meet the young as well as the mature in every direction. And tender parents are unconsciously leading their lovely and hapless daughters to this awful doom.

There is no excitement of the imagination in what is here indicated. If the facts and details could be presented, they would send a groan of terror all over the land. For it is not one class, or one section, that is endangered. In every part of our country the evil is progressing.

And, as if these dreadful ills were not enough, there have been added methods of medical treatment at once useless, torturing to the mind, and involving great liability to immoralities.



In hope of abating these evils, drawings are given (Fig. 62 and Fig. 63) of the front and back of a jacket that will preserve the advantages of the corset without its evils. This jacket may at first be fitted to the figure with corsets underneath it, just like the waist of a dress. Then, delicate whalebones can be used to stiffen the jacket, so that it will take the proper shape, when the corset may be dispensed with. The buttons below are to hold all articles of dress below the waist by button-holes. By this method, the bust is supported as well as by corsets, while the shoulders support from above, as they should do, the weight of the dress below. No stiff bone should be allowed to press in front, and the jacket should be so loose that a full breath can be inspired with ease, while in a sitting position.



The proper way to dress a young girl is to have a cotton or flannel close-fitting jacket next the body, to which the drawers should be buttoned. Over this, place the chemise; and over that, such a jacket as the one here drawn, to which should be buttoned the hoops and other skirts. Thus every article of dress will be supported by the shoulders. The sleeves of the jacket can be omitted, and in that ease a strong lining, and also a tape binding, must surround the arm-hole, which should be loose.

It is hoped that increase of intelligence and moral power among mothers, and a combination among them to regulate fashions, may banish the pernicious practices that have prevailed. If a school-girl dress without corsets and without tight belts could be established as a fashion, it would be one step gained in the right direction. Then if mothers could secure daily domestic exercise in chambers, eating-rooms and parlors in loose dresses, a still farther advance would be secured.

A friend of the writer informs her that her daughter had her wedding outfit made up by a fashionable milliner in Paris, and every dress was beautifully fitted to the form, and yet was not compressing to any part. This was done too without the use of corsets, the stiffening being delicate and yielding whalebones.

Not only parents but all having the care of young girls, especially those at boarding-schools, have a fearful responsibility resting upon them in regard to this important duty.

In regard to the dressing of young children, much discretion is needed to adapt dress to circumstances and peculiar constitutions. The leading fact must be borne in mind that the skin is made strong and healthful by exposure to light and pure air, while cold air, if not excessive, has a tonic influence. If the skin of infants is rubbed with the hand till red with blood, and then exposed naked to sun and air in a well-ventilated room, it will be favorable to health.

There is a constitutional difference in the skin of different children in regard to retaining the animal heat manufactured within, so that some need more clothing than others for comfort. Nature is a safe guide to a careful nurse and mother, and will indicate by the looks and actions of a child when more clothing is needful. As a general rule, it is safe for a healthful child to wear as little clothing as suffices to keep it from complaining of cold. Fifty years ago, it was not common for children to wear as much under-clothing as they now do. The writer well remembers how even girls, though not of strong constitutions, used to play for hours in the snow-drifts without the protection of drawers, kept warm by exercise and occasional runs to an open fire. And multitudes of children grew to vigorous maturity through similar exposures to cold air-baths, and without the frequent, colds and sicknesses so common among children of the present day, who are more carefully housed and warmly dressed. But care was taken that the feet should be kept dry and warmly clad, because, circulation being feebler in the extremities, this precaution was important.

It must also be considered that age brings with it decrease in vigor of circulation, and the consequent generation of heat, so that more warmth of air and clothing is needed at an advanced period of life than is suitable for the young.

These are the general principles which must be applied with modification to each individual case. A child of delicate constitution must have more careful protection from cold air than is desirable for one more vigorous, while the leading general principle is retained that cold air is a healthful tonic for the skin whenever it does not produce an uncomfortable chilliness.



XIII.

GOOD COOKING.

There are but a few things on which health, and happiness depend more than on the manner in which food is cooked. You may make houses enchantingly beautiful, hang them with pictures, have them clean and airy and convenient; but if the stomach is fed with sour bread and burnt meats, it will raise such rebellions that the eyes will see no beauty anywhere. The abundance of splendid material we have in America is in great contrast with the style of cooking most prevalent in our country. How often, in journeys, do we sit down to tables loaded with material, originally of the very best kind, winch has been so spoiled in the treatment that there is really nothing to eat! Green biscuits with acrid spots of alkali; sour yeast-bread; meat slowly simmered in fat till it seemed like grease itself, and slowly congealing in cold grease; and above all, that unpardonable enormity, strong butter! How one longs to show people what might have been done with the raw material out of which all these monstrosities were concocted!

There is no country where an ample, well-furnished table is more easily spread, and for that reason, perhaps, none where the bounties of Providence are more generally neglected. Considering that our resources are greater than those of any other civilized people, our results are comparatively poorer.

It is said that a list of the summer vegetables which are exhibited on New-York hotel-tables being shown to a French artiste, he declared that to serve such a dinner properly would take till midnight. A traveler can not but be struck with our national plenteousness, on returning from a Continental tour, and going directly from the ship to a New-York hotel, in the bounteous season of autumn. For months habituated to neat little bits of chop or poultry, garnished with the inevitable cauliflower or potato, which seemed to be the sole possibility after the reign of green peas was over; to sit down all at once to such a carnival! to such ripe, juicy tomatoes, raw or cooked; cucumbers in brittle slices; rich, yellow sweet-potatoes; broad lima-beans, and beans of other and various names; tempting ears of Indian-corn steaming in enormous piles; great smoking tureens of the savory succotash, an Indian gift to the table for which civilization need not blush; sliced egg-plant in delicate fritters; and marrow- squashes, of creamy pulp and sweetness; a rich variety, embarrassing to the appetite, and perplexing to the choice.

Verily, the thought must often occur that the vegetarian doctrine preached in America leaves a man quite as much as he has capacity to eat or enjoy, and that in the midst of such tantalizing abundance he has really lost the apology, which elsewhere bears him out in preying upon his less gifted and accomplished animal neighbors.

But with all this, the American table, taken as a whole, is inferior to that of England or France. It presents a fine abundance of material, carelessly and poorly treated. The management of food is nowhere in the world, perhaps, more slovenly and wasteful. Every thing betokens that want of care that waits on abundance; there are great capabilities and poor execution. A tourist through England can seldom fail, at the quietest country-inn, of finding himself served with the essentials of English table-comfort—his mutton-chop done to a turn, his steaming little private apparatus for concocting his own tea, his choice pot of marmalade or slice of cold ham, and his delicate rolls and creamy butter, all served with care and neatness. In France, one never asks in vain for delicious cafe-au-lait, good bread and butter, a nice omelet, or some savory little portion of meat with a French name. But to a tourist taking like chance in American country-fare, what is the prospect? What is the coffee? what the tea? and the meat? and above all, the butter?

In writing on cooking, the main topics should be first, bread; second, butter; third, meat; fourth, vegetables; and fifth, tea—by which last is meant, generally, all sorts of warm, comfortable drinks served out in tea-cups, whether they be called tea, coffee, chocolate, broma, or what not.

If these five departments are all perfect, the great ends of domestic cookery are answered, so far as the comfort and well-being of life are concerned. There exists another department, which is often regarded by culinary amateurs and young aspirants as the higher branch and very collegiate course of practical cookery; to wit, confectionery, by which is designated all pleasing and complicated compounds of sweets and spices, devised not for health and nourishment, and strongly suspected of interfering with both—mere tolerated gratifications of the palate, which we eat, not with the expectation of being benefited, but only with the hope of not being injured by them. In this large department rank all sorts of cakes, pies, preserves, etc., whose excellence is often attained by treading under foot and disregarding the five grand essentials.

There is many a table garnished with three or four kinds of well-made cake, compounded with citron and spices and all imaginable good things, where the meat was tough and greasy, the bread some hot preparation of flour, lard, saleratus, and acid, and the butter unutterably detestable, where, if the mistress of the feast had given the care, time, and labor to preparing the simple items of bread, butter, and meat, that she evidently had given to the preparation of these extras, the lot of her guests and family might be much more comfortable. But she does not think of these common articles as constituting a good table. So long as she has puff pastry, rich black cake, clear jelly and preserves, she considers that such unimportant matters as bread, butter, and meat may take care of themselves. It is the same inattention to common things as that which leads people to build houses with stone fronts, and window-caps and expensive front-door trimmings, without bathing-rooms or fireplaces, or ventilators.

Those who go into the country looking for summer board in farm-houses know perfectly well that a table where the butter is always fresh, the tea and coffee of the best kinds and well made, and the meats properly kept, dressed, and served, is the one table of a hundred, the fabulous enchanted island. It seems impossible to get the idea into the minds of many people that what is called common food, carefully prepared, becomes, in virtue of that very care and attention, a delicacy, superseding the necessity of artificially compounded dainties. To begin, then, with the very foundation of a good table:

Bread: What ought it to be?

It should be light, sweet, and tender. This matter of lightness is the distinctive line between savage and civilized bread. The savage mixes simple flour and water into balls of paste, which he throws into boiling water, and which come out solid, glutinous masses, of which his common saying is, "Man eat dis, he no die," which a facetious traveler who was obliged to subsist on it interpreted to mean, "Dis no kill you, nothing will." In short, it requires the stomach of a wild animal or of a savage to digest this primitive form of bread, and of course more or less attention in all civilized modes of bread-making is given to producing lightness. By lightness is meant simply that in order to facilitate digestion the particles are to be separated from each other by little holes or air-cells; and all the different methods of making light bread are neither more nor less than the formation of bread with these air-cells.

So far as we know, there are four practicable methods of aerating bread; namely, by fermentation; by effervescence of an acid and an alkali; by aerated egg, or egg which has been filled with air by the process of beating; and lastly, by pressure of some gaseous substance into the paste, by a process much resembling the impregnation of water in a soda-fountain. All those have one and the same object—to give us the cooked particles of our flour separated by such permanent air-cells as will enable the stomach more readily to digest them.

A very common mode of aerating bread in America is by the effervescence of an acid and an alkali in the flour. The carbonic acid gas time formed products minute air-cells in the bread, or, as the cook says, makes it light. When this process is performed with exact attention to chemical laws, so that the acid and alkali completely neutralize each other, leaving no overplus of either, the result is often very palatable. The difficulty is, that this is a happy conjunction of circumstances which seldom occurs. The acid most commonly employed is that of sour milk, and, as milk has many degrees of sourness, the rule of a certain quantity of alkali to the pint must necessarily produce very different results at different times. As an actual fact where this mode of making bread prevails, as we lament to say it does to a great extent in this country, one finds five cases of failure to one of success.

It is a woeful thing that the daughters of our land have abandoned the old respectable mode of yeast-brewing and bread-raising for this specious substitute, so easily made, and so seldom well made. The green, clammy, acrid substance, called biscuit, which many of our worthy republicans are obliged to eat in these days, is wholly unworthy of the men and women of the republic. Good patriots ought not to be put off in that way—they deserve better fare.

As an occasional variety, as a household convenience for obtaining bread or biscuit at a moment's notice, the process of effervescence may be retained; but, we earnestly entreat American housekeepers, in scriptural language, to stand in the way and ask for the old paths, and return to the good yeast-bread of their sainted grandmothers.

If acid and alkali must be used, by all means let them be mixed in due proportions. No cook should be left to guess and judge for herself about this matter. There are articles made by chemical rule which produce very perfect results, and the use of them obviates the worst dangers in making bread by effervescence.

Of all processes of aeration in bread-making, the oldest and most time-honored mode is by fermentation. That this was known in the days of our Saviour is evident from the forcible simile in which he compares the silent permeating force of truth in human, society to the very familiar household process of raising bread by a little yeast.

There is, however, one species of yeast, much used in some parts of the country, against which protest should be made. It is called salt-risings, or milk-risings, and is made by mixing flour, milk, and a little salt together, and leaving them to ferment. The bread thus produced is often, very attractive, when new and made with great care. It is white and delicate, with fine, even air-cells. It has, however, when kept, some characteristics which remind us of the terms in which our old English Bible describes the effect of keeping the manna of the ancient Israelites, which we are informed, in words more explicit than agreeable, "stank, and bred worms." If salt-rising bread does not fulfill the whole of this unpleasant description, it certainly does emphatically a part of it. The smell which it has in baking, and when more than a day old, suggests the inquiry, whether it is the saccharine or the putrid fermentation with which it is raised. Whoever breaks a piece of it after a day or two, will often see minute filaments or clammy strings drawing out from the fragments, which, with the unmistakable smell, will cause him to pause before consummating a nearer acquaintance.

The fermentation of flour by means of brewer's or distiller's yeast produces, if rightly managed, results far more palatable and wholesome. The only requisites for success in it are, first, good materials, and, second, great care in small things. There are certain low-priced or damaged kinds of flour which can never by any kind of domestic chemistry be made into good broad; and to those persons whose stomachs forbid them to eat gummy, glutinous paste, under the name of bread, there is no economy in buying these poor brands, even at half the price of good flour.

But good flour and good yeast being supposed, with a temperature favorable to the development of fermentation, the whole success of the process depends on the thorough diffusion of the proper proportion of yeast through the whole mass, and on stopping the subsequent fermentation at the precise and fortunate point. The true housewife makes her bread the sovereign of her kitchen—its behests must be attended to in all critical points and moments, no matter what else be postponed.

She who attends to her bread only when she has done this, and arranged that, and performed the other, very often finds that the forces of nature will not wait for her. The snowy mass, perfectly mixed, kneaded with care and strength, rises in its beautiful perfection till the moment comes for filling the air-cells by baking. A few minutes now, and the acetous fermentation will begin, and the whole result be spoiled. Many bread-makers pass in utter carelessness over this sacred and mysterious boundary. Their oven has cake in it, or they are skimming jelly, or attending to some other of the so-called higher branches of cookery, while the bread is quickly passing into the acetous stage. At last, when they are ready to attend to it, they find that it has been going its own way,—it is so sour that the pungent smell is plainly perceptible. Now the saleratus-bottle is handed down, and a quantity of the dissolved alkali mixed with the paste—an expedient sometimes making itself too manifest by greenish streaks or small acrid spots in the bread. As the result, we have a beautiful article spoiled—bread without sweetness, if not absolutely sour.

In the view of many, lightness is the only property required in this article. The delicate refined sweetness which exists in carefully kneaded bread, baked just before it passes to the extreme point of fermentation, is something, of which they have no conception; and thus they will even regard this process of spoiling the paste by the acetous fermentation, and then rectifying that acid by effervescence with an alkali, as something positively meritorious. How else can they value and relish bakers' loaves, such as some are, drugged with ammonia and other disagreeable things; light indeed, so light that they seem to have neither weight nor substance, but with no more sweetness or taste than so much cotton wool?

Some persons prepare bread for the oven by simply mixing it in the mass, without kneading, pouring it into pans, and suffering it to rise there. The air-cells in bread thus prepared are coarse and uneven; the bread is as inferior in delicacy and nicety to that which is well kneaded as a raw servant to a perfectly educated and refined lady. The process of kneading seems to impart an evenness to the minute air-cells, a fineness of texture, and a tenderness and pliability to the whole substance, that can be gained in no other way.

The divine principle of beauty has its reign over bread as well as over all other things; it has its laws of aesthetics; and that bread which is so prepared that it can be formed into separate and well-proportioned loaves, each one carefully worked and moulded, will develop the most beautiful results. After being moulded, the loaves should stand usually not over ten minutes, just long enough to allow the fermentation going on in them to expand each little air-cell to the point at which it stood before it was worked down, and then they should be immediately put into the oven.

Many a good thing, however, is spoiled in the oven. We can not but regret, for the sake of bread, that our old steady brick ovens have been almost universally superseded by those of ranges and cooking-stoves, which are infinite in their caprices, and forbid all general rules. One thing, however, may be borne in mind as a principle—that the excellence of bread in all its varieties, plain or sweetened, depends on the perfection of its air-cells, whether produced by yeast, egg, or effervescence; that one of the objects of baking is to fix these air-cells, and that the quicker this can be done through the whole mass, the better will the result be. When cake or bread is made heavy by baking too quickly, it is because the immediate formation of the top crust hinders the exhaling of the moisture in the centre, and prevents the air-cells from cooking. The weight also of the crust pressing down on the doughy air-cells below destroys them, producing that horror of good cooks, a heavy streak. The problem in baking, then, is the quick application of heat rather below than above the loaf, and its steady continuance till all the air-cells are thoroughly dried into permanent consistency. Every housewife must watch her own oven to know how this can be best accomplished.

Bread-making can be cultivated to any extent as a fine art—and the various kinds of biscuit, tea-rusks, twists, rolls, into which bread may be made, are much better worth a housekeeper's ambition than the getting-up of rich and expensive cake or confections. There are also varieties of material which are rich in good effects. Unbolted flour, altogether more wholesome than the fine wheat, and when properly prepared more palatable—rye-flour and corn-meal, each affording a thousand attractive possibilities—all of these come under the general laws of bread-stuffs, and are worth a careful attention.

A peculiarity of our American table, particularly in the Southern and Western States, is the constant exhibition of various preparations of hot bread. In many families of the South and West, bread in loaves to be eaten cold is an article quite unknown. The effect of this kind of diet upon the health has formed a frequent subject of remark among travelers; but only those know the full mischiefs of it who have been compelled to sojourn for a length of time in families where it is maintained. The unknown horrors of dyspepsia from bad bread are a topic over which we willingly draw a veil.

Next to Bread comes Butter—on which we have to say, that, when we remember what butter is in civilized Europe, and compare it with what it is in America, we wonder at the forbearance and lenity of travelers in their strictures on our national commissariat.

Butter, in England, France, and Italy, is simply solidified cream, with all the sweetness of the cream in its taste, freshly churned each day, and unadulterated by salt. At the present moment, when salt is five cents a pound and butter fifty, we Americans are paying, at high prices, for about one pound of salt to every ten of butter, and those of us who have eaten the butter of France and England do this with rueful recollections.

There is, it is true, an article of butter made in the American style with salt, which, in its own kind and way, has a merit not inferior to that of England and France. Many prefer it, and it certainly takes a rank equally respectable with the other. It is yellow, hard, and worked so perfectly free from every particle of buttermilk that it might make the voyage of the world without spoiling. It is salted, but salted with care and delicacy, so that it may be a question whether even a fastidious Englishman might not prefer its golden solidity to the white, creamy freshness of his own. But it is to be regretted that this article is the exception, and not the rule, on our tables.

America must have the credit of manufacturing and putting into market more bad butter than all that is made in all the rest of the world together. The varieties of bad tastes and smells which prevail in it are quite a study. This has a cheesy taste, that a mouldy, this is flavored with cabbage, and that again with turnip, and another has the strong, sharp savor of rancid animal fat. These varieties probably come from the practice of churning only at long intervals, and keeping the cream meanwhile in unventilated cellars or dairies, the air of which is loaded with the effluvia of vegetable substances. No domestic articles are so sympathetic as those of the milk tribe: they readily take on the smell and taste of any neighboring substance, and hence the infinite variety of flavors on which one mournfully muses who has late in autumn to taste twenty firkins of butter in hopes of finding one which will simply not be intolerable on his winter table.

A matter for despair as regards bad butter is, that at the tables where it is used it stands sentinel at the door to bar your way to every other kind of food. You turn from your dreadful half-slice of bread, which fills your mouth with bitterness, to-your beef-steak, which proves virulent with the same poison; you think to take refuge in vegetable diet, and find the butter in the string-beans, and polluting the innocence of early peas; it is in the corn, hi the succotash, in the squash; the beets swim in it, the onions have it poured over them. Hungry and miserable, you think to solace yourself at the dessert; but the pastry is cursed, the cake is acrid with the same plague. You are ready to howl with despair, and your misery is great upon you—especially if this is a table where you have taken board for three months with your delicate wife and four small children. Your case is dreadful, and it is hopeless, because long usage and habit have rendered your host perfectly incapable of discovering what is the matter. "Don't like the butter, sir? I assure you I paid an extra price for it, and it's the very best in the market. I looked over as many as a hundred tubs, and picked out this one." You are dumb, but not less despairing.

Yet the process of making good butter is a very simple one. To keep the cream in a perfectly pure, cool atmosphere, to churn while it is yet sweet, to work out the buttermilk thoroughly, and to add salt with such discretion as not to ruin the fine, delicate flavor of the fresh cream—all this is quite simple, so simple that one wonders at thousands and millions of pounds of butter yearly manufactured which are merely a hobgoblin bewitchment of cream into foul and loathsome poisons.

The third head of my discourse is that of Meat, of which America furnishes, in the gross material, enough to spread our tables royally, were it well cared for and served.

The faults in the meat generally furnished to us are, first, that it is too new. A beef steak, which three or four days of keeping might render palatable, is served up to us palpitating with freshness, with all the toughness of animal muscle yet warm.

In the next place, there is a woeful lack of nicety in the butcher's work of cutting and preparing meat. Who that remembers the neatly trimmed mutton-chop of an English inn, or the artistic little circle of lamb-chop fried in bread-crumbs coiled around a tempting centre of spinach which may always be found in France, can recognize any family resemblance to those dapper, civilized preparations, in these coarse, roughly-hacked strips of bone, gristle, and meat which are commonly called mutton-chop in America? There seems to be a large dish of something resembling meat, in which each fragment has about two or three edible morsels, the rest being composed of dry and burnt skin, fat, and ragged bone.

Is it not time that civilization should learn to demand somewhat more care and nicety in the modes of preparing what is to be cooked and eaten? Might not some of the refinement and trimness which characterize the preparations of the European market be with advantage introduced into our own? The housekeeper who wishes to garnish her table with some of those nice things is stopped in the outset by the butcher. Except in our large cities, where some foreign travel may have created the demand, it seems impossible to get much in this line that is properly prepared.

If this is urged on the score of aesthetics, the ready reply will be, "Oh! we can't give time here in America to go into niceties and French whim-whams!" But the French mode of doing almost all practical things is based on that true philosophy and utilitarian good sense which characterize that seemingly thoughtless people. Nowhere is economy a more careful study, and their market is artistically arranged to this end. The rule is so to cut their meats that no portion designed to be cooked in a certain manner shall have wasteful appendages which that mode of cooking will spoil. The French soup-kettle stands ever ready to receive the bones, the thin fibrous flaps, the sinewy and gristly portions, which are so often included in our roasts or broilings, which fill our plates with unsightly debris, and finally make an amount of blank waste for which we pay our butcher the same price that we pay for what we have eaten.

The dead waste of our clumsy, coarse way of cutting meats is immense. For example, at the beginning of the season, the part of a lamb denominated leg and loin, or hind-quarter, may sell for thirty cents a pound. Now this includes, besides the thick, fleshy portions, a quantity of bone, sinew, and thin fibrous substance, constituting full one third of the whole weight. If we put it into the oven entire, in the usual manner, we have the thin parts over-done, and the skinny and fibrous parts utterly dried up, by the application of the amount of heat necessary to cook the thick portion. Supposing the joint to weigh six pounds, at thirty cents, and that one third of the weight is so treated as to become perfectly useless, we throw away sixty cents. Of a piece of beef at twenty-five cents a pound, fifty cents' worth is often lost in bone, fat, and burnt skin.

The fact is, this way of selling and cooking meat in large, gross portions is of English origin, and belongs to a country where all the customs of society spring from a class who have no particular occasion for economy. The practice of minute and delicate division comes from a nation which acknowledges the need of economy, and has made it a study. A quarter of lamb in this mode of division would be sold in three nicely prepared portions. The thick part would be sold by itself, for a neat, compact little roast; the rib-bones would be artistically separated, and all the edible matter would form those delicate dishes of lamb-chop, which, fried in bread-crumbs to a golden brown, are so ornamental and palatable a side-dish; the trimmings which remain after this division would be destined to the soup-kettle or stew-pan.

In a French market is a little portion for every purse, and the far-famed and delicately flavored soups and stews which have arisen out of French economy are a study worth a housekeeper's attention. Not one atom of food is wasted in the French modes of preparation; even tough animal cartilages and sinews, instead of appearing burned and blackened in company with the roast meat to which they happen to be related, are treated according to their own laws, and come out either in savory soups, or those fine, clear meat-jellies which form a garnish no less agreeable to the eye than palatable to the taste.

Whether this careful, economical, practical style of meat-cooking can ever to any great extent be introduced into our kitchens now is a question. Our butchers are against it; our servants are wedded to the old wholesale wasteful ways, which seem to them easier because they are accustomed to them. A cook who will keep and properly tend a soup-kettle which shall receive and utilize all that the coarse preparations of the butcher would require her to trim away, who understands the art of making the most of all these remains, is a treasure scarcely to be hoped for. If such things are to be done, it must be primarily through the educated brain of cultivated women who do not scorn to turn their culture and refinement upon domestic problems.

When meats have been properly divided, so that each portion can receive its own appropriate style of treatment, next comes the consideration of the modes of cooking. These may be divided into two great general classes: those where it is desired to keep the juices within the meat, as in baking, broiling, and frying—and those whose object is to extract the juice and dissolve the fibre, as in the making of soups and stews. In the first class of operations, the process must be as rapid as may consist with the thorough cooking of all the particles. In this branch of cookery, doing quickly is doing well. The fire must be brisk, the attention alert. The introduction of cooking-stoves offers to careless domestics facilities for gradually drying-up meats, and despoiling them of all flavor and nutriment—facilities which appear to be very generally accepted. They have almost banished the genuine, old-fashioned roast-meat from our tables, and left in its stead dried meats with their most precious and nutritive juices evaporated. How few cooks, unassisted, are competent to the simple process of broiling a beefsteak or mutton-chop! how very generally one has to choose between these meats gradually dried away, or burned on the outside and raw within! Yet in England these articles never come on the table done amiss; their perfect cooking is as absolute a certainty as the rising of the sun.

No one of these rapid processes of cooking, however, is so generally abused as frying. The frying-pan has awful sins to answer for. What untold horrors of dyspepsia have arisen from its smoky depths, like the ghost from witches' caldrons! The fizzle of frying meat is a warning knell on many an ear, saying, "Touch not, taste not, if you would not burn and writhe!"

Yet those who have traveled abroad remember that some of the lightest, most palatable, and most digestible preparations of meat have come from this dangerous source. But we fancy quite other rites and ceremonies inaugurated the process, and quite other hands performed its offices, than those known to our kitchens. Probably the delicate cotelettes of France are not flopped down into half-melted grease, there gradually to warm and soak and fizzle, while Biddy goes in and out on her other ministrations, till finally, when they are thoroughly saturated, and dinner-hour impends, she bethinks herself, and crowds the fire below to a roaring heat, and finishes the process by a smart burn, involving the kitchen and surrounding precincts in volumes of Stygian gloom. From such preparations has arisen the very current medical opinion that fried meats are indigestible. They are indigestible, if they are greasy; but French cooks have taught us that a thing has no more need to be greasy because emerging from grease than Venus had to be salt because she rose from the sea.

There are two ways of frying employed by the French cook. One is, to immerse the article to be cooked in boiling fat, with an emphasis on the present participle—and the philosophical principle is, so immediately to crisp every pore, at the first moment or two of immersion, as effectually to seal the interior against the intrusion of greasy particles; it can then remain as long as may be necessary thoroughly to cook it, without imbibing any more of the boiling fluid than if it were inclosed in an egg-shell. The other method is to rub a perfectly smooth iron surface with just enough of some oily substance to prevent the meat from adhering, and cook it with a quick heat, as cakes are baked, on a griddle. In both these cases there must be the most rapid application of heat that can be made without burning, and by the adroitness shown in working out this problem the skill of the cook is tested. Any one whose cook attains this important secret will find fried things quite as digestible, and often more palatable, than any other.

In the second department of meat-cookery, to wit, the slow and gradual application of heat for the softening and dissolution of its fibre and the extraction of its juices, common cooks are equally untrained. Where is the so-called cook who understands how to prepare soups and stews? These are precisely the articles in which a French kitchen excels. The soup-kettle, made with a double bottom, to prevent burning, is a permanent, ever-present institution, and the coarsest and most impracticable meats distilled through that alembic come out again in soups, jellies, or savory stews. The toughest cartilage, even the bones, being first cracked, are here made to give forth their hidden virtues, and to rise in delicate and appetizing forms.

One great law governs all these preparations: the application of heat must be gradual, steady, long protracted, never reaching the point of active boiling. Hours of quiet simmering dissolve all dissoluble parts, soften the sternest fibre, and unlock every minute cell in which Nature has stored away her treasures of nourishment. This careful and protracted application of heat and the skillful use of flavors constitute the two main points in all those nice preparations of meat for which the French have so many names—processes by which a delicacy can be imparted to the coarsest and cheapest food superior to that of the finest articles under less philosophic treatment.

French soups and stews are a study, and they would not be an unprofitable one to any person who wishes to live with comfort and even elegance on small means.

There is no animal fibre that will not yield itself up to long- continued, steady heat. But the difficulty with almost any of the common servants who call themselves cooks is, that they have not the smallest notion of the philosophy of the application of heat. Such a one will complacently tell you concerning certain meats, that the harder you boil them the harder they grow—an obvious fact which, under her mode of treatment by an indiscriminate galloping boil, has frequently come under her personal observation. If you tell her that such meat must stand for six hours in a heat just below the boiling point, she will probably answer, "Yes, ma'am," and go on her own way. Or she will let it stand till it burns to the bottom of the kettle—a most common termination of the experiment.

The only way to make sure of the matter is, either to obtain a French kettle, or to fit into an ordinary kettle a false bottom, such as any tinman may make, that shall leave a space of an inch or two between the meat and the fire. This kettle may be maintained in a constant position on the range, and into it the cook maybe instructed to throw all the fibrous trimmings of meat, all the gristle, tendons, and bones, having previously broken up these last with a mallet. Such a kettle, the regular occupant of a French cooking-stove, which they call the pot au feu, will furnish the basis for clear, rich soups, or other palatable dishes. This is ordinarily called "stock."

Clear soup consists of the dissolved juices of the meat and gelatine of the bones, cleared from the fat and fibrous portions by straining. The grease, which rises to the top of the fluid, may be easily removed when cold.

English and American soups are often heavy and hot with spices. There are appreciable tastes in them. They burn your mouth with cayenne, or clove, or allspice. You can tell at once what is in them, oftentimes to your sorrow. But a French soup has a flavor which one recognizes at once as delicious, yet not to be characterized as due to any single condiment; it is the just blending of many things. The same remark applies to all their stews; ragouts, and other delicate preparations. No cook will ever study these flavors; but perhaps many cooks' mistresses may, and thus, be able to impart delicacy and comfort to economy.

As to those things called hashes, commonly manufactured by unwatched, untaught cooks out of the remains of yesterday's meal, let us not dwell too closely on their memory—compounds of meat, gristle, skin, fat, and burnt fibre, with a handful of pepper and salt flung at them, dredged with lumpy flour, watered from the spout of the tea-kettle, and left to simmer at the cook's convenience while she is otherwise occupied. Such are the best performances a housekeeper can hope for from an untrained cook.

But the cunningly devised minces, the artful preparations choicely flavored, which may be made of yesterday's repast—by these is the true domestic artist known. No cook untaught by an educated brain ever makes these, and yet economy is a great gainer by them.

As regards the department of Vegetables, their number and variety in America are so great that a table might almost be furnished by these alone. Generally speaking, their cooking is a more simple art, and therefore more likely to be found satisfactorily performed, than that of meats. If only they are not drenched with rancid butter, their own native excellence makes itself known in most of the ordinary modes of preparation.

There is, however, one exception. Our staunch old friend, the potato, is to other vegetables what bread is on the table. Like bread, it is held as a sort of sine-qua-non; like that, it may be made invariably palatable by a little care in a few plain particulars, through neglect of which it often becomes intolerable. The soggy, waxy, indigestible viand that often appears in the potato-dish is a downright sacrifice of the better nature of this vegetable.

The potato, nutritive and harmless as it appears, belongs to a family suspected of very dangerous traits. It is a family connection of the deadly-nightshade and other ill-reputed gentry, and sometimes shows strange proclivities to evil—now breaking out uproariously, as in the noted potato-rot, and now more covertly, in various evil affections. For this reason scientific directors bid us beware of the water in which potatoes are boiled-into which, it appears, the evil principle is drawn off; and they caution us not to shred them into stews without previously suffering the slices to lie for an hour or so in salt and water. These cautions are worth attention.

The most usual modes of preparing the potato for the table are by roasting or boiling. These processes are so simple that it is commonly supposed every cook understands them without special directions; and yet there is scarcely an uninstructed cook who can boil or roast a potato.

A good roasted potato is a delicacy worth a dozen compositions of the cook-book; yet when we ask for it, what burnt, shriveled abortions are presented to us! Biddy rushes to her potato-basket and pours out two dozen of different sizes, some having in them three times the amount of matter of others. These being washed, she tumbles them into her oven at a leisure interval, and there lets them lie till it is time to serve breakfast, whenever that may be. As a result, if the largest are cooked, the smallest are presented in cinders, and the intermediate sizes are withered and watery. Nothing is so utterly ruined by a few moments of overdoing. That which at the right moment was plump with mealy richness, a quarter of an hour later shrivels and becomes watery— and it is in this state that roast potatoes are most frequently served.

In the same manner we have seen boiled potatoes from an untaught cook coming upon the table like lumps of yellow wax—and the same article, under the directions of a skillful mistress, appearing in snowy balls of powdery whiteness. In the one case, they were thrown in their skins into water, and suffered to soak or boil, as the case might be, at the cook's leisure, and after they were boiled to stand in the water till she was ready to peel them. In the other case, the potatoes being first peeled were boiled as quickly as possible in salted water, which the moment they were done was drained off, and then they were gently shaken for a moment or two over the fire to dry them still more thoroughly. We have never yet seen the potato so depraved and given over to evil that it could not be reclaimed by this mode of treatment.

As to fried potatoes, who that remembers the crisp, golden slices of the French restaurant, thin as wafers and light as snow-flakes, does not speak respectfully of them? What cousinship with these have those coarse, greasy masses of sliced potato, wholly soggy and partly burnt, to which we are treated under the name of fried potatoes in America? In our cities the restaurants are introducing the French article to great acceptance, and to the vindication of the fair fame of this queen of vegetables.

Finally, we arrive at the last great head of our subject, to wit— Tea—meaning thereby, as before observed, what our Hibernian friend did in the inquiry, "Will y'r honor take 'tay tay' or coffee tay?"

We are not about to enter into the merits of the great tea-and-coffee controversy, further than in our general caution concerning them in the chapter on Healthful Drinks; but we now proceed to treat of them as actual existences, and speak only of the modes of making the best of them. The French coffee is reputed the best in the world; and a thousand voices have asked, What is it about the French coffee?

In the first place, then, the French coffee is coffee, and not chickory, or rye, or beans, or peas. In the second place, it is freshly roasted, whenever made—roasted with great care and evenness in a little revolving cylinder which makes part of the furniture of every kitchen, and which keeps in the aroma of the berry. It is never overdone, so as to destroy the coffee-flavor, which is in nine cases out of tent the fault of the coffee we meet with. Then it is ground, and placed in a coffee-pot with a filter through which, when it has yielded up its life to the boiling water poured upon it, the delicious extract percolates in clear drops, the coffee-pot standing on a heated stove to maintain the temperature. The nose of the coffee-pot is stopped up to prevent the escape of the aroma during this process. The extract thus obtained is a perfectly clear, dark fluid, known as caf noir, or black coffee. It is black only because of its strength, being in fact almost the very essential oil of coffee. A table-spoonful of this in boiled milk would make what is ordinarily called a strong cup of coffee. The boiled milk is prepared with no less care. It must be fresh and new, not merely warmed or even brought to the boiling-point, but slowly simmered till it attains a thick, creamy richness. The coffee mixed with this, and sweetened with that sparkling beet-root sugar which ornaments a French table, is the celebrated cafe-au-lait, the name of which has gone round the world.

As we look to France for the best coffee, so we must look to England for the perfection of tea. The tea-kettle is as much an English institution as aristocracy or the Prayer-Book; and when one wants to know exactly how tea should he made, one has only to ask how a fine old English house-keeper makes it.

The first article of her faith is, that the water must not merely be hot, not merely have boiled a few moments since, but be actually boiling at the moment it touches the tea. Hence, though servants in England are vastly better trained than with us, this delicate mystery is seldom left to their hands. Tea-making belongs to the drawing-room, and high-born ladies preside at "the bubbling and loud hissing urn," and see that all due rites and solemnities are properly performed—that the cups are hot, and that the infused tea waits the exact time before the libations commence.

Of late, the introduction of English breakfast-tea has raised a new sect among the tea-drinkers, reversing some of the old canons. Breakfast-tea must be boiled! Unlike the delicate article of olden time, which required only a momentary infusion to develop its richness, this requires a longer and severer treatment to bring out its strength—thus confusing all the established usages, and throwing the work into the hands of the cook in the kitchen. The faults of tea, as too commonly found at our hotels and boarding-houses, are, that it is made in every way the reverse of what it should be. The water is hot, perhaps, but not boiling; the tea has a general flat, stale, smoky taste, devoid of life or spirit; and it is served usually with thin milk, instead of cream. Cream is an essential to the richness of tea as of coffee. Lacking cream, boiled milk is better than cold.

Chocolate is a French and Spanish article, and one seldom served on American tables. We in America, however, make an article every way equal to any which can be imported from Paris, and he who buys the best vanilla-chocolate may rest assured that no foreign land can furnish any thing better. A very rich and delicious beverage may be made by dissolving this in milk, slowly boiled down after the French fashion.

A word now under the head of Confectionery, meaning by this the whole range of ornamental cookery—or pastry, ices, jellies, preserves, etc. The art of making all these very perfectly is far better understood in America than the art of common cooking. There are more women who know how to make good cake than good bread—more who can furnish you with a good ice-cream than a well-cooked mutton-chop; a fair charlotte-russe is easier to gain than a perfect cup of coffee; and you shall find a sparkling jelly to your dessert where you sighed in vain for so simple a luxury as a well-cooked potato.

Our fair countrywomen might rest upon their laurels in these higher fields, and turn their great energy and ingenuity to the study of essentials. To do common things perfectly is far better worth our endeavor than to do uncommon things respectably. We Americans in many things as yet have been a little inclined to begin making our shirt at the ruffle; but, nevertheless, when we set about it, we can make the shirt as nicely as any body; it needs only that we turn our attention to it, resolved that, ruffle or no ruffle, the shirt we will have.

A few words as to the prevalent ideas in respect to French cookery. Having heard much of it, with no very distinct idea of what it is, our people have somehow fallen into the notion that its forte lies in high spicing—and so when our cooks put a great abundance of clove, mace, nutmeg, and cinnamon into their preparations, they fancy that they are growing up to be French cooks. But the fact is, that the Americans and English are far more given to spicing than the French. Spices in our made dishes are abundant, and their taste is strongly pronounced. Living a year in France one forgets the taste of nutmeg, clove, and allspice, which abounds in so many dishes in America. The English and Americans deal in spices, the French in flavors—flavors many and flue, imitating often in their delicacy those subtle blendings which nature produces in high-flavored fruits. The recipes of our cookery-books are most of them of English origin, coming down from the times of our phlegmatic ancestors, when the solid, burly, beefy growth of the foggy island required the heat of fiery condiments, and could digest heavy sweets. Witness the national recipe for plum-pudding: which may be rendered: Take a pound of every indigestible substance you can think of, boil into a cannon-ball, and serve in flaming brandy. So of the Christmas mince-pie, and many other national dishes. But in America, owing to our brighter skies and more fervid climate, we have developed an acute, nervous delicacy of temperament far more akin to that of France than of England.

Half of the recipes in our cook-books are mere murder to such constitutions and stomachs as we grow here. We require to ponder these things, and think how we, in our climate and under our circumstances, ought to live; and in doing so, we may, without accusation of foreign foppery, take some leaves from many foreign books.



XIV.

EARLY RISING

There is no practice which has been more extensively eulogized in all ages than early rising; and this universal impression is an indication that it is founded on true philosophy. For it is rarely the case that the common sense of mankind fastens on a practice as really beneficial, especially one that demands self-denial, without some substantial reason.

This practice, which may justly be called a domestic virtue, is one which has a peculiar claim to be styled American and democratic. The distinctive mark of aristocratic nations is a disregard of the great mass, and a disproportionate regard for the interests of certain privileged orders. All the customs and habits of such a nation are, to a greater or less extent, regulated by this principle. Now the mass of any nation must always consist of persons who labor at occupations which demand the light of day. But in aristocratic countries, especially in England, labor is regarded as the mark of the lower classes, and indolence is considered as one mark of a gentleman. This impression has gradually and imperceptibly, to a great extent, regulated their customs, so that, even in their hours of meals and repose, the higher orders aim at being different and distinct from those who, by laborious pursuits, are placed below them. From this circumstance, while the lower orders labor by day and sleep at night, the rich, the noble, and the honored sleep by day, and follow their pursuits and pleasures by night.

It will be found that the aristocracy of London breakfast near midday, dine after dark, visit and go to Parliament between ten and twelve at night, and retire to sleep toward morning. In consequence of this, the subordinate classes who aim at gentility gradually fall into the same practice. The influence of this custom extends across the ocean, and here, in this democratic land, we find many who measure their grade of gentility by the late hour at which they arrive at a party. And this aristocratic folly is growing upon us, so that, throughout the nation, the hours for visiting and retiring are constantly becoming later, while the hours for rising correspond in lateness.

The question, then, is one which appeals to American women, as a matter of patriotism and as having a bearing on those great principles of democracy which we conceive to be equally the principles of Christianity. Shall we form our customs on the assumption that labor is degrading and indolence genteel? Shall we assume, by our practice, that the interests of the great mass are to be sacrificed for the pleasures and honors of a privileged few? Shall we ape the customs of aristocratic lands, in those very practices which result from principles and institutions that we condemn? Shall we not rather take the place to which we are entitled, as the leaders, rather than the followers, in the customs of society, turn back the tide of aristocratic inroads, and carry through the whole, not only of civil and political but of social and domestic life, the true principles of democratic freedom and equality? The following considerations may serve to strengthen an affirmative decision.

The first relates to the health of a family. It is a universal law of physiology, that all living things flourish best in the light. Vegetables, in a dark cellar, grow pale and spindling. Children brought up in mines are always wan and stunted, while men become pale and cadaverous who live under ground. This indicates the folly of losing the genial influence which the light of day produces on all animated creation.

Sir James Wylie, of the Russian imperial service, states that in the soldiers' barracks, three times as many were taken sick on the shaded side as on the sunny side; though both sides communicated, and discipline, diet, and treatment were the same. The eminent French surgeon, Dupuytren, cured a lady whose complicated diseases baffled for years his own and all other medical skill, by taking her from a dark room to an abundance of daylight.

Florence Nightingale writes: "Second only to fresh air in importance for the sick is light. Not only daylight but direct sunlight is necessary to speedy recovery, except in a small number of cases. Instances, almost endless, could be given where, in dark wards, or wards with only northern exposure, or wards with borrowed light, even when properly ventilated, the sick could not be, by any means, made speedily to recover."

In the prevalence of cholera, it was invariably the case that deaths were more numerous in shaded streets or in houses having only northern exposures than in those having sunlight. Several physicians have stated to the writer that, in sunny exposures, women after childbirth gained strength much faster than those excluded from sunlight. In the writer's experience, great nervous debility has been always immediately lessened by sitting in the sun, and still more by lying on the earth and in open air, a blanket beneath, and head and eyes protected, under the direct rays of the sun.

Some facts in physiology and natural philosophy have a bearing on this subject. It seems to be settled that the red color of blood is owing to iron contained in the red blood-cells, while it is established as a fact that the sun's rays are metallic, having "vapor of iron" as one element. It is also true that want of light causes a diminution of the red and an increase of the imperfect white blood-cells, and that this sometimes results in a disease called leucoemia, while all who live in the dark have pale and waxy skins, and flabby, weak muscles. Thus it would seem that it is the sun that imparts the iron and color to the blood. These things being so, the customs of society that bring sleeping hours into daylight, and working and study hours into the night, are direct violations of the laws of health. The laws of health are the laws of God, and "sin is the transgression of law."

To this we must add the great neglect of economy as well as health in substituting unhealthful gaslight, poisonous, anthracite warmth, for the life-giving light and warmth of the sun. Millions and millions would be saved to this nation in fuel and light, as well as in health, by returning to the good old ways of our forefathers, to rise with the sun, and retire to rest "when the bell rings for nine o'clock."

The observations of medical men, whose inquiries have been directed to this point, have decided that from six to eight hours is the amount of sleep demanded by persons in health. Some constitutions require as much as eight, and others no more than six hours of repose. But eight hours is the maximum for all persons in ordinary health, with ordinary occupations. In cases of extra physical exertions, or the debility of disease, or a decayed constitution, more than this is required. Let eight hours, then, be regarded as the ordinary period required for sleep by an industrious people like the Americans.

It thus appears that the laws of our political condition, the laws ofthe natural world, and the constitution of our bodies, alike demand that we rise with the light of day to prosecute our employments, and that we retire in time for the requisite amount of sleep.

In regard to the effects of protracting the time spent in repose, many extensive and satisfactory investigations have been made. It has been shown that, during sleep, the body perspires most freely, while yet neither food nor exercise are ministering to its wants. Of course, if we continue our slumbers beyond the time required to restore the body to its usual vigor, there is an unperceived undermining of the constitution, by this protracted and debilitating exhalation. This process, in a course of years, readers the body delicate and less able to withstand disease, and in the result shortens life. Sir John Sinclair, who has written a large work on the Causes of Longevity, states, as one result of his extensive investigations, that he has never yet heard or read of a single case of great longevity where the individual was not an early riser. He says that he has found cases in which the individual has violated some one of all the other laws of health, and yet lived to great age; but never a single instance in which any constitution has withstood that undermining consequent on protracting the hours of repose beyond the demands of the system.

Another reason for early rising is, that it is indispensable to a systematic and well-regulated family. At whatever hour the parents retire, children and domestics, wearied by play or labor, must retire early. Children usually awake with the dawn of light, and commence their play, while domestics usually prefer the freshness of morning for their labors. If, then, the parents rise at a late hour, they either induce a habit of protracting sleep in their children and domestics, or else the family are up, and at their pursuits, while their supervisors are in bed.

Any woman who asserts that her children and domestics, in the first hours of day, when their spirits are freshest, will be as well regulated without her presence as with it, confesses that which surely is little for her credit. It is believed that any candid woman, whatever may be her excuse for late rising, will concede that if she could rise early it would be for the advantage of her family. A late breakfast puts back the work, through the whole day, for every member of a family; and if the parents thus occasion the loss of an hour or two to each individual who, but for their delay in the morning, would be usefully employed, they alone are responsible for all this waste of time.

But the practice of early rising has a relation to the general interests of the social community, as well as to that of each distinct family. All that great portion of the community who are employed in business and labor find it needful to rise early; and all their hours of meals, and their appointments for business or pleasure, must be accommodated to these arrangements. Now, if a small portion of the community establish very different hours, it makes a kind of jostling in all the concerns and interests of society. The various appointments for the public, such as meetings, schools, and business hours, must be accommodated to the mass, and not to individuals. The few, then, who establish domestic habits at variance with the majority, are either constantly interrupted in their own arrangements, or else are interfering with the rights and interests of others. This is exemplified in the case of schools. In families where late rising is practiced, either hurry, irregularity, and neglect are engendered in the family, or else the interests of the school, and thus of the community, are sacrificed. In this, and many other matters, it can be shown that the well-being of the bulk of the people is, to a greater or less extent, impaired by this self-indulgent practice. Let any teacher select the unpunctual scholars—a class who most seriously interfere with the interests of the school—and let men of business select those who cause them most waste of time and vexation, by unpunctuality; and it will be found that they are generally among the late risers, and rarely among those who rise early. Thus, late rising not only injures the person and family which indulge in it, but interferes with the rights and convenience of the community; while early rising imparts corresponding benefits of health, promptitude, vigor of action, economy of time, and general effectiveness both to the individuals who practice it and to the families and community of which they are a part.



CHAPTER XV.

DOMESTIC MANNERS.

Good manners are the expressions of benevolence in personal intercourse, by which we endeavor to promote the comfort and enjoyment of others, and to avoid all that gives needless uneasiness. It is the exterior exhibition of the divine precept, which requires us to do to others as we would that they should do to us. It is saying, by our deportment, to all around, that we consider their feelings, tastes, and conveniences, as equal in value to our own.

Good manners lead us to avoid all practices which offend the taste of others; all unnecessary violations of the conventional rules of propriety; all rude and disrespectful language and deportment; and all remarks which would tend to wound the feelings of others.

There is a serious defect in the manners of the American people, especially among the descendants of the Puritan settlers of New England, which can never be efficiently remedied, except in the domestic circle, and during early life. It is a deficiency in the free expression of kindly feelings and sympathetic emotions, and a want of courtesy in deportment. The causes which have led to this result may easily be traced.

The forefathers of this nation, to a wide extent, were men who were driven from their native land by laws and customs which they believed to be opposed both to civil and religious freedom. The sufferings they were called to endure, the subduing of those gentler feelings which bind us to country, kindred, and home; and the constant subordination of the passions to stern principle, induced characters of great firmness and self-control. They gave up the comforts and refinements of a civilized country, and came as pilgrims to a hard soil, a cold clime, and a heathen shore. They were continually forced to encounter danger, privations, sickness, loneliness, and death; and all these their religion taught them to meet with calmness, fortitude, and submission. And thus it became the custom and habit of the whole mass, to repress rather than to encourage the expression of feeling.

Persons who are called to constant and protracted suffering and privation are forced to subdue and conceal emotion; for the free expression of it would double their own suffering, and increase the sufferings of others. Those, only, who are free from care and anxiety, and whose minds are mainly occupied by cheerful emotions, are at full liberty to unveil their feelings.

It was under such stern and rigorous discipline that the first children in New England were reared; and the manners and habits of parents are usually, to a great extent, transmitted to children. Thus it comes to pass, that the descendants of the Puritans, now scattered over every part of the nation, are predisposed to conceal the gentler emotions, while their manners are calm, decided, and cold, rather than free and impulsive. Of course, there are very many exceptions to these predominating characteristics.

Other causes to which we may attribute a general want of courtesy in manners are certain incidental results of our domestic institutions. Our ancestors and their descendants have constantly been combating the aristocratic principle which would exalt one class of men at the expense of another. They have had to contend with this principle, not only in civil but in social life. Almost every American, in his own person as well as in behalf of his class, has had to assume and defend the main principle of democracy—that every man's feelings and interests are equal in value to those of every other man. But, in doing this, there has been some want of clear discrimination. Because claims based on distinctions of mere birth, fortune, or position, were found to be injurious, many have gone to the extreme of inferring that all distinctions, involving subordinations, are useless. Such would wrongfully regard children as equals to parents, pupils to teachers, domestics to their employers, and subjects to magistrates—and that, too, in all respects.

The fact that certain grades of superiority and subordination are needful, both for individual and public benefit, has not been clearly discerned; and there has been a gradual tendency to an extreme of the opposite view which has sensibly affected our manners. All the proprieties and courtesies which depend on the recognition of the relative duties of superior and subordinate have been warred upon; and thus we see, to an increasing extent, disrespectful treatment of parents, by children; of teachers, by pupils; of employers, by domestics; and of the aged, by the young. In all classes and circles, there is a gradual decay in courtesy of address.

In cases, too, where kindness is rendered, it is often accompanied with a cold, unsympathizing manner, which greatly lessens its value; while kindness or politeness is received in a similar style of coolness, as if it were but the payment of a just due.

It is owing to these causes that the American people, especially the descendants of the Puritans, do not do themselves justice. For, while those who are near enough to learn their real character and feelings can discern the most generous impulses, and the most kindly sympathies, they are often so veiled behind a composed and indifferent demeanor, as to be almost entirely concealed from strangers.

These defects in our national manners it especially falls to the care of mothers, and all who have charge of the young, to rectify; and if they seriously undertake the matter, and wisely adapt means to ends, these defects will be remedied. With reference to this object, the following ideas are suggested.

The law of Christianity and of democracy, which teaches that all men are born equal in rights, and that their interests and feelings should be regarded as of equal value, seems to be adopted in aristocratic circles, with exclusive reference to the class in which the individual moves. The courtly gentleman addresses all of his own class with politeness and respect; and in all his actions, seems to allow that the feelings and convenience of these others are to be regarded the same as his own. But his demeanor to those of inferior station is not based on the same rule.

Among those who make up aristocratic circles, such as are above them are deemed of superior, and such as are below of inferior, value. Thus, if a young, ignorant, and vicious coxcomb happens to have been born a lord, the aged, the virtuous, the learned, and the well-bred of another class must give his convenience the precedence, and must address him in terms of respect. So sometimes, when a man of "noble birth" is thrown among the lower classes, he demeans himself in a style which, to persons of his own class, would be deemed the height of assumption and rudeness.

Now, the principles of democracy require that the same courtesy which we accord to our own circle shall be extended to every class and condition; and that distinctions of superiority and subordination shall depend, not on accidents of birth, fortune, or occupation, but solely on those mutual relations which the good of all classes equally require. The distinctions demanded in a democratic state are simply those which result from relations that are common to every class, and are for the benefit of all.

It is for the benefit of every class that children be subordinate to parents, pupils to teachers, the employed to their employers, and subjects to magistrates. In addition to this, it is for the general well-being that the comfort or convenience of the delicate and feeble should be preferred to that of the strong and healthy, who would suffer less by any deprivation; that precedence should be given to their elders by the young; and that reverence should be given to the hoary head.

The rules of good-breeding, in a democratic state, must be founded on these principles. It is indeed assumed that the value of the happiness of each individual is the same as that of every other; but as there must be occasions where there are advantages which all can not enjoy, there must be general rules for regulating a selection. Otherwise, there would be constant scrambling among those of equal claims, and brute force must be the final resort; in which case, the strongest would have the best of every thing. The democratic rule, then, is, that superiors in age, station, or office have precedence of subordinates; age and feebleness, of youth and strength; and the feebler sex, of more vigorous man. [Footnote: The universal practice of this nation, in thus giving precedence to woman has been severely commented on by foreigners, and by some who would transfer all the business of the other sex to women, and then have them treated like men. But we hope this evidence of our superior civilization and Christianity may increase rather than diminish.]

There is, also, a style of deportment and address which is appropriate to these different relations. It is suitable for a superior to secure compliance with his wishes from those subordinate to him by commands; but a subordinate must secure compliance with his wishes from a superior by requests. (Although the kind and considerate manner to subordinates will always be found the most effective as well as the pleasantest, by those in superior station.) It is suitable for a parent, teacher, or employer to admonish for neglect of duty; but not for an inferior to adopt such a course toward a superior. It is suitable for a superior to take precedence of a subordinate, without any remark; but not for an inferior, without previously asking leave, or offering an apology. It is proper for a superior to use language and manners of freedom and familiarity, which would be improper from a subordinate to a superior.

The want of due regard to these proprieties occasions a great defect in American manners. It is very common to hear children talk to their parents in a style proper only between companions and equals; so, also, the young address their elders; those employed, their employers; and domestics, the members of the family and their visitors, in a style which is inappropriate to their relative positions. But courteous address is required not merely toward superiors; every person desires to be thus treated, and therefore the law of benevolence demands such demeanor toward all whom we meet in the social intercourse of life. "Be ye courteous," is the direction of the apostle in reference to our treatment of all.

Good manners can be successfully cultivated only in early life and in the domestic circle. There is nothing which depends so much upon habit as the constantly recurring proprieties of good breeding; and if a child grows up without forming such habits, it is very rarely the case that they can be formed at a later period. The feeling that it is of little consequence how we behave at home if we conduct ourselves properly abroad, is a very fallacious one. Persons who are careless and ill-bred at home may imagine that they can assume good manners abroad; but they mistake. Fixed habits of tone, manner, language, and movements can not be suddenly altered; and those who are ill-bred at home, even when they try to hide their bad habits, are sure to violate many of the obvious rules of propriety, and yet be unconscious of it.

And there is nothing which would so effectually remove prejudice against our democratic institutions as the general cultivation of good-breeding in the domestic circle. Good manners are the exterior of benevolence, the minute and constant exhibitions of "peace and good-will;" and the nation, as well as the individual, which most excels in the external demonstration, as well as the internal principle, will be most respected and beloved.

It is only the training of the family state according to its true end and aim that is to secure to woman her true position and rights. When the family is instituted by marriage, it is man who is the head and chief magistrate by the force of his physical power and requirement of the chief responsibility; not less is he so according to the Christian law, by which, when differences arise, the husband has the deciding control, and the wife is to obey. "Where love is, there is no law;" but where love is not, the only dignified and peaceful course is for the wife, however much his superior, to "submit, as to God and not to man."

But this power of nature and of religion, given to man as the controlling head, involves the distinctive duty of the family state, self-sacrificing love. The husband is to "honor" the wife, to love her as himself, and thus account her wishes and happiness as of equal value with his own. But more than this, he is to love her "as Christ loved the Church;" that is, he is to "suffer" for her, if need be, in order to support and elevate and ennoble her. The father then is to set the example of self-sacrificing love and devotion; and the mother, of Christian obedience when it is required. Every boy is to be trained for his future domestic position by labor and sacrifices for his mother and sisters. It is the brother who is to do the hardest and most disagreeable work, to face the storms and perform the most laborious drudgeries. In the family circle, too, he is to give his mother and sister precedence in all the conveniences and comforts of home life.

It is only those nations where the teachings and example of Christ have had most influence that man has ever assumed his obligations of self-sacrificing benevolence in the family. And even in Christian communities, the duty of wives to obey their husbands has been more strenuously urged than the obligations of the husband to love his wife "as Christ loved the Church."

Here it is needful to notice that the distinctive duty of obedience to man does not rest on women who do not enter the relations of married life. A woman who inherits property, or who earns her own livelihood, can institute the family state, adopt orphan children and employ suitable helpers in training them; and then to her will appertain the authority and rights that belong to man as the head of a family. And when every woman is trained to some self-supporting business, she will not be tempted to enter the family state as a subordinate, except by that love for which there is no need of law.

These general principles being stated, some details in regard to domestic manners will be enumerated. In the first place, there should be required in the family a strict attention to the rules of precedence, and those modes of address appropriate to the various relations to be sustained. Children should always be required to offer their superiors, in age or station, the precedence in all comforts and conveniences, and always address them in a respectful tone and manner. The custom of adding, "Sir," or "Ma'am," to "Yes," or "No," is valuable, as a perpetual indication of a respectful recognition of superiority. It is now going out of fashion, even among the most well bred people; probably from a want of consideration of its importance. Every remnant of courtesy of address, in our customs, should be carefully cherished, by all who feel a value for the proprieties of good breeding.

If parents allow their children to talk to them, and to the grown persons in the family, in the same style in which they address each other, it will be in vain to hope for the courtesy of manner and tone which good breeding demands in the general intercourse of society. In a large family, where the elder children are grown up, and the younger are small, it is important to require the latter to treat the elder in some sense as superiors. There are none so ready as young children to assume airs of equality; and if they are allowed to treat one class of superiors in age and character disrespectfully, they will soon use the privilege universally. This is the reason, why the youngest children of a family are most apt to be pert, forward, and unmannerly.

Another point to be aimed at is, to require children always to acknowledge every act of kindness and attention, either by words or manner. If they are so trained as always to make grateful acknowledgments, when receiving favors, one of the objectionable features in American manners will be avoided.

Again, children should be required to ask leave, whenever they wish to gratify curiosity, or use an article which belongs to another. And if cases occur, when they can not comply with the rules of good-breeding, as, for instance, when they must step between a person and the fire, or take the chair of an older person, they should be taught either to ask leave, or to offer an apology.

There is another point of good-breeding, which can not, in all cases, be understood and applied by children in its widest extent. It is that which requires us to avoid all remarks which tend to embarrass, vex, mortify, or in any way wound the feelings of another. To notice personal defects; to allude to others' faults, or the faults of their friends; to speak disparagingly of the sect or party to which a person belongs; to be inattentive when addressed in conversation; to contradict flatly; to speak in contemptuous tones of opinions expressed by another; all these are violations of the rules of good-breeding, which children should be taught to regard. Under this head comes the practice of whispering and staring about, when a teacher, or lecturer, or clergyman is addressing a class or audience. Such inattention is practically saying that what the person is uttering is not worth attending to; and persons of real good-breeding always avoid it. Loud talking and laughing in a large assembly, even when no exercises are going on; yawning and gaping in company; and not looking in the face a person who is addressing you, are deemed marks of ill-breeding.

Another branch of good manners relates to the duties of hospitality. Politeness requires us to welcome visitors with cordiality; to offer them the best accommodations; to address conversation to them; and to express, by tone and manner, kindness and respect. Offering the hand to all visitors at one's own house is a courteous and hospitable custom; and a cordial shake of the hand, when friends meet, would abate much of the coldness of manner ascribed to Americans.

Another point of good breeding refers to the conventional rules of propriety and good taste. Of these, the first class relates to the avoidance of all disgusting or offensive personal habits: such as fingering the hair; obtrusively using a toothpick, or carrying one in the mouth after the needful use of it; cleaning the nails in presence of others; picking the nose; spitting on carpets; snuffing instead of using a handkerchief, or using the article in an offensive manner; lifting up the boots or shoes, as some men do, to tend them on the knee, or to finger them: all these tricks, either at home or in society, children should be taught to avoid.

Another topic, under this head, may be called table manners. To persons of good-breeding, nothing is more annoying than violations of the conventional proprieties of the table. Reaching over another person's plate; standing up, to reach distant articles, instead of asking to have them passed; using one's own knife and spoon for butter, salt, or sugar, when it is the custom of the family to provide separate utensils for the purpose; setting cups with the tea dripping from them, on the table-cloth, instead of the mats or small plates furnished; using the table-cloth instead of the napkins; eating fast, and in a noisy manner; putting large pieces in the mouth; looking and eating as if very hungry, or as if anxious to get at certain dishes; sitting at too great a distance from the table, and dropping food; laying the knife and fork on the table-cloth, instead of on the edge of the plate; picking the teeth at table: all these particulars children should be taught to avoid.

It is always desirable, too, to train children, when at table with grown persons, to be silent, except when addressed by others; or else their chattering will interrupt the conversation and comfort of their elders. They should always be required, too, to wait in silence, till all the older persons are helped.

When children are alone with their parents, it is desirable to lead them to converse and to take this as an opportunity to form proper conversational habits. But it should be a fixed rule that, when strangers are present, the children are to listen in silence and only reply when addressed. Unless this is secured, visitors will often be condemned to listen to puerile chattering, with small chance of the proper attention due to guests and superiors in age and station.

Children should be trained, in preparing themselves for the table or for appearance among the family, not only to put their hair, face, and hands in neat order, but also their nails, and to habitually attend to this latter whenever they wash their hands.

There are some very disagreeable tricks which many children practice even in families counted well-bred. Such, for example, are drumming with the fingers on some piece of furniture, or humming a tune while others are talking, or interrupting conversation by pertinacious questions, or whistling in the house instead of out-doors, or speaking several at once and in loud voices to gain attention. All these are violations of good-breeding, which children should be trained to avoid, lest they should not only annoy as children, but practice the same kind of ill manners when mature. In all assemblies for public debate, a chairman or moderator is appointed whose business it is to see that only one person speaks at a time, that no one interrupts a person when speaking, that no needless noises are made, and that all indecorums are avoided. Such an officer is sometimes greatly needed in family circles.

Children should be encouraged freely to use lungs and limbs out-doors, or in hours for sport in the house. But at other times, in the domestic circle, gentle tones and manners should be cultivated. The words gentleman and gentlewoman came originally from the fact that the uncultivated and ignorant classes used coarse and loud tones, and rough words and movements; while only the refined circles habitually used gentle tones and gentle manners. For the same reason, those born in the higher circles were called "of gentle blood." Thus it came that a coarse and loud voice, and rough, ungentle manners, are regarded as vulgar and plebeian.

All these things should be taught to children, gradually, and with great patience and gentleness. Some parents, with whom good manners are a great object, are in danger of making their children perpetually uncomfortable, by suddenly surrounding them with so many rules that they must inevitably violate some one or other a great part of the time. It is much better to begin with a few rules, and be steady and persevering with these, till a habit is formed, and then take a few more, thus making the process easy and gradual. Otherwise, the temper of children will be injured; or, hopeless of fulfilling so many requisitions, they will become reckless and indifferent to all.

If a few brief, well-considered, and sensible rules of good manners could be suspended in every school-room, and the children all required to commit them to memory, it probably would do more to remedy the defects of American manners and to advance universal good-breeding than any other mode that could be so easily adopted.

But, in reference to those who have enjoyed advantages for the cultivation of good manners, and who duly estimate its importance, one caution is necessary. Those who never have had such habits formed in youth are under disadvantages which no benevolence of temper can altogether remedy. They may often violate the tastes and feelings of others, not from a want of proper regard for them, but from ignorance of custom, or want of habit, or abstraction of mind, or from other causes which demand forbearance and sympathy, rather than displeasure. An ability to bear patiently with defects in manners, and to make candid and considerate allowance for a want of advantages, or for peculiarities in mental habits, is one mark of the benevolence of real good-breeding.

The advocates of monarchical and aristocratic institutions have always had great plausibility given to their views, by the seeming tendencies of our institutions to insubordination and bad manners. And it has been too indiscriminately conceded, by the defenders of the latter, that such are these tendencies, and that the offensive points in American manners are the necessary result of democratic principles.

But it is believed that both facts and reasoning are in opposition to this opinion. The following extract from the work of De Tocqueville, the great political philosopher of France, exhibits the opinion of an impartial observer, when comparing American manners with those of the English, who are confessedly the most aristocratic of all people.

He previously remarks on the tendency of aristocracy to make men more sympathizing with persons of their own peculiar class, and less so toward those of lower degree; and he then contrasts American manners with the English, claiming that the Americans are much the more affable, mild, and social. "In America, where the privileges of birth never existed and where riches confer no peculiar rights on their possessors, men acquainted with each other are very ready to frequent the same places, and find neither peril nor disadvantage in the free interchange of their thoughts. If they meet by accident, they neither seek nor avoid intercourse; their manner is therefore natural, frank, and open." "If their demeanor is often cold and serious, it is never haughty or constrained." But an "aristocratic pride is still extremely great among the English; and as the limits of aristocracy are still ill-defined, every body lives in constant dread, lest advantage should be taken of his familiarity. Unable to judge, at once, of the social position of those he meets, an Englishman prudently avoids all contact with him. Men are afraid, lest some slight service rendered should draw them into an unsuitable acquaintance; they dread civilities, and they avoid the obtrusive gratitude of a stranger, as much as his hatred."

Thus, facts seem to show that when the most aristocratic nation in the world is compared, as to manners, with the most democratic, the judgment of strangers is in favor of the latter. And if good manners are the outward exhibition of the democratic principle of impartial benevolence and equal rights, surely the nation which adopts this rule, both in social and civil life, is the most likely to secure the desirable exterior. The aristocrat, by his principles, extends the exterior of impartial benevolence to his own class only; the democratic principle requires it to be extended to all.

There is reason, therefore, to hope and expect more refined and polished manners in America than in any other land; while all the developments of taste and refinement, such as poetry, music, painting, sculpture, and architecture, it may be expected, will come to as high a state of perfection here as in any other nation.

If this country increases in virtue and intelligence, as it may, there is no end to the wealth which will pour in as the result of our resources of climate, soil, and navigation, and the skill, industry, energy, and enterprise of our countrymen. This wealth, if used as intelligence and virtue dictate, will furnish the means for a superior education to all classes, and every facility for the refinement of taste, intellect, and feeling.

Moreover, in this country, labor is ceasing to be the badge of a lower class; so that already it is disreputable for a man to be "a lazy gentleman." And this feeling must increase, till there is such an equalization of labor as will afford all the time needful for every class to improve the many advantages offered to them. Already through the munificence of some of our citizens, there are literary and scientific advantages offered to all classes, rarely enjoyed elsewhere. In most of our large cities and towns, the advantages of education, now offered to the poorest classes, often without charge, surpass what, some years ago, most wealthy men could purchase for any price. And it is believed that a time will come when the poorest boy in America can secure advantages, which will equal what the heir of the proudest peerage can now command.

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