Practically and Economically Illustrated, Through the Respective Grades of Maid-of-all-work, House and Parlour-maid and Laundry-maid; With Many Valuable Recipes for Facilitating Labour in Every Department. Prepared for the Use of the National and Industrial Schools of the Holy Trinity, at Finchley.
Tenth Edition. Joseph Masters, 33, Aldersgate Street and 78, New Bond Street, London.
The Finchley Manual of Cooking, or Practical and Economical Training for those who are to be Servants, Wives, or Mothers, has been cordially welcomed - welcomed even beyond our hopes - as a first step in the right way. A “plain cook” used to be facetiously, but too truly, described as “a cook who spoils food for low wages;” and a cook “who could boil a potatoe and dress a “mutton chop,” - or, it might have been added, who could boil a piece of bacon so that it should be fit to be eaten - was regarded as “one in a thousand.” This opprobrium ought no longer to exist. No person, young or old, who may have attentively read the little Manual of Cooking referred to, can now be at a loss to boil a potatoe, to dress a chop or a steak, or to perform any of the simple operations of boiling, roasting, broiling, frying, or stewing, an acquaintance with which is required in a “plain cook” - in any and every woman that is fit to be a servant, wife, or mother in humble or middling life.
The success of the Finchley Manual of Cooking abundantly justifies the expectation of an equally kind reception for the present attempt to lead young Female Servants, by a similar system of catechetical instruction and practical training, through the respective grades of Maid-of-all-work, House and Parlour Maid, and Laundry Maid.
And, be it remembered, that the qualifications for these offices - offices of vast relative importance in society - will be acquired with a degree of facility fully proportionate to the attention which may be paid, or has been paid, by the pupils to the duties of their moral and religious education.
That boys and girls may become good and useful men and women - sound, virtuous, and valuable members of the community - they must learn to think, and to think to a good purpose. This, in truth, is the great object of education - or, rather, it is education itself - to make people think and act wisely.
Thoroughly to effect this, a merely secular education is not sufficient. No education can be adequate to the end required that does not systematically embrace, and distinctly and forcibly inculcate, the sublime truths of Christianity - of that Divine religion which alone can produce happiness here, and lead to an eternity of happiness hereafter. In an age such as the present which is an age of great natural intelligence, and of high intellectual power, a system of education so based - a uniform system of religious education, combined with general instruction, as contradistinguished from one that is merely secular - is essentially, imperatively necessary.
In this view, we regard the Industrial Schools of England, sanctioned and supported as they expressly are by the Church, and working together in a spirit of unity and concord, to be one of the strongest barriers against the progress of infidelity and vice. They constitute also one of the most powerful incentives to general propriety of conduct in both sexes - to integrity, virtue, and true religion, involving the temporal and eternal welfare and happiness of man.
The first of the Finchley Manuals was appropriated, primarily, to instructions in the necessary art of Cooking, - an art by far too little understood, even in families of the highest respectability.
In the little volume here produced, it is the desire of the writer, with equal plainness, simplicity, and love of economy, to lead the young female servant, and to assist her mistress in leading her, through a course of duties in the respective grades of Maid-of-all-work, House and Parlour Maid, and Laundry Maid. The value of the knowledge required in each of these stations is too obvious to render illustration necessary.
First, then, as regards
In noticing and describing the first duties of a young cook-maid, it was our aim to inculcate the strictest attention to order and punctuality, to cleanliness and economy, and to early rising, as the only means by which a true allotment of time could be effected, and order and regularity throughout the day be maintained. The injunction holds equally good with reference to every form and degree of domestic servitude.
It is usual for the mistress of a house, or, in large establishments, for the housekeeper, to direct the servants, and see that they perform their duties properly. But they must know their duties before they can perform them properly. It is the business of servants, according to their situations, to do the work of the house; and where only one female servant happens to be kept, the whole of the work must be done by that one - the Maid-of-all-work. Thus, she must cook - clean the furniture and utensils of all sorts - wash the linen (unless it be put out) - assist in dressing and nursing the children - light fires - sweep, dust, and scrub - clean knives and forks, and boots and shoes, and fetch up coal, unless an errand-boy or man be employed in the morning for such purposes - put and keep things in their right places - attend upon the family and their visitors - wait at table and in the sitting-rooms - make the beds, and keep the bed-rooms clean - answer the parlour, drawingroom, and bed-room bells, and the bell and knocker of the outer door - wash up plates and dishes, cups and saucers, spoons, and drinking glasses - clean saucepans, candlesticks, stoves, and fire-irons - and, in short, to do anything and everything that may be required.
How, it may be asked, is the knowledge requisite for all this to be acquired? It must be taught, partly by precept, chiefly by practical training; and it must be acquired by attention, experience, perseverance, - order, regularity, and punctuality in all things, - an active hand, a willing mind, a determination to succeed. These will rarely, if ever, fail.
After all, the difficulties to be encountered by a Maid-of-all-work are often much less serious than may be, at first sight, supposed. In numerous instances, the place of a Maid-of-all-work is neither excessively laborious, nor by any means uncomfortable. Let it ever be borne in mind, that a good servant - one who is mistress of her work - will always command good wages, for she is a treasure to her employers.
In many families, the mistress, or, perhaps, one or two grown-up young ladies, will frequently assist materially in the performance of the household duties. Or, when the work may happen to be occasionally heavier than usual, a considerate mistress will provide help.
In families where the master and mistress are kind, and the servant gets through her business with willingness and good-humour, the place of a Maid-of-all-work is frequently more respectable and more comfortable than that of a servant who may have one or more companions. The best, indeed the only, means by which a servant may secure the attention, kindness, and consideration of her employers, is, upon all occasions, to evince an alacrity and a willingness to oblige, - to preserve an equanimity of temper, and a cheerfulness of spirit.
Where two maid-servants are kept, the Cook is the chief; and she, of course, prepares the food, and has everything in the kitchen under her care, and has to clean the doorways and passages, the kitchen, and her own bed-room. In this case, the second servant does the general household work, and is, in fact, the House-maid - an office for which she has become qualified by her having previously performed the duties of Maid-of-all-work. Sometimes the Cook combines the offices of Cook and Housemaid; and then it is usual for her to have a Kitchen-maid or Scullery-maid under her. Here it may be incidentally remarked, that the work of a Kitchen-maid or Scullion imparts much valuable information to a young girl just entering service, and opens the way, very advantageously, to her attainment of the higher place of Cook.
On the other hand, nothing can so well qualify a young woman for the station of House-maid, or even of Parlour and Waiting-maid, as a thorough practical acquaintance with the duties of a Maid-of-all-work.
There is yet another point of serious consideration, as regards the
of all sorts. Honesty, economy, and trustworthiness in everything are indispensable recommendations. Without these, a servant's character is nought. It is worthless in the eyes of both God and man.
When we have the property of another in charge, of whatsoever description, it is our bounden duty to be at least as careful of that property as though it were our own. Food is property - property that, in a family, is of a very costly nature. Let there, therefore, be no wanton or wicked waste of food, even to the extent of a crust of bread.
Poultry, pastry, delicacies of any sort, should never be consumed at the kitchen-table, unless by express permission of the mistress. “When it is understood that such things are to be set aside,” observes an intelligent writer, “the touching them at all is dishonest.” To cut a slice from a pie or pudding, to pick the fruit out of a tart, to break off the edge of pastry, - tricks which young girls not unfrequently fall into, - not only renders the dish unsightly and offensive, but is an act of positive dishonesty; it is an unwarrantable appropriation of the property of others to our own use; in other words, it is picking and stealing. It is a crime, for the commission of which a mistress would be perfectly justified in instantly discharging her servant, without a character, or even with the character of being dishonest. Temperance in all things, forbearance, self-denial, are duties of our nature. “Whatever is placed upon the kitchen-table should be fairly cut, and fairly eaten.” Whatever a servant may be called upon to provide for the table, or for any other purpose, “should be provided with reference to the quantity required. Beer should be drawn, bread cut, butter, flour, or milk, obtained for the daily and weekly consumption in proportion to the uses for which they are required.”
Q. As cooking forms a material part of the business of a Maid-of-all-work, I suppose you have read, and committed to memory, all the principal portions of The Young Maid's Catechism, a little work which fully describes the different duties which a young girl has to make herself acquainted with on first entering service?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Well, whenever you may happen to find yourself at a loss respecting any of those duties, especially cooking, you must refer to your memory, or to that little book. Now, tell me what are the first things you have to attend to on coming down-stairs in the morning?
A. To the opening of the window-shutters, and then to the lighting of the kitchen fire.
Q. What is your method of lighting the fire?
A. If there be a boiler or an oven to the range (sometimes there are both), I first clear out the cinders and ashes from under them, if they are so made as to require it; and then I clear out the ashes from the range, grate, or stove itself, leaving a few cinders at the bottom to serve for a foundation.
A. On those cinders I place some dry, crumpled waste paper, a few carpenter's shavings, or a little light brushwood; over which I lay some dry sticks, or pieces of fire-wood, across one another, and some of the largest and least-burnt cinders; also a few pieces of coal, each about as big as an egg, or a middling-sized apple; and I also put a few pieces of round coal between the bars.
Q. But is there not a more simple and expeditious, yet inexpensive, method of lighting a fire?
A. Yes, ma'am; there are two or three sorts of what is termed patent fuel, the best of which is composed of small sticks, prepared and made up in a particular form, and dipped in a resinous mixture. This is exceedingly inflammable, takes fire instantly, burns briskly, and renders unnecessary the paper, shavings, or brush-wood.
Q. Well, having placed your fuel in proper order, how do you put a light to it, - not I hope, by means of a candle, which is a very untidy and wasteful plan?
A. No, ma'am; I use a little piece of twisted paper, or a lighted match, for the purpose.
Q, When the flame has fairly caught the coal, what do you do?
A. First, I throw some small coal and cinders on at the back, with a piece or two of larger coal in front on the top; then, with a shovel - not with the scuttle - I sprinkle a little small coal all over the top; and then, after that, I throw up all the refuse that may be beneath the range.
Q. Are you aware that, if the fuel be packed down hard and close, the fire will not light or burn freely, in fact, that fires will not burn without the admission of air?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Well, supposing air to be wanted in such a case, what do you do?
A. I stir the fire upwards gently from the bottom, which will afford access to the air, and then the fire will burn up briskly.
Q. As that will not always be the case so speedily as might be wished, what would you do?
A. The effect of an access of air may sometimes be increased by opening a door, or a window, for a few minutes.
Q. Supposing a fire to have burned low, and to appear nearly out, what would you do to recover it?
A. A fire in such a state may often be recovered by opening a window or a door, and excluding the sunlight as much as possible by drawing down the blinds.
Q. Supposing that, at any time, you may wish your fire to burn less freely than it does, what is your remedy?
A. I would press the fuel more closely together, taking care not to press it too closely, lest the fire should go out?
Q. As some fire-places will smoke when the fire is first lighted, what is your remedy for the evil?
A. I hold a large piece of lighted paper, or brush-wood, or a shovelful of hot embers, a little way up the chimney, above the fire. The smoke will then be forced up the chimney, and the fire will burn freely.
I have been thus particular in asking you these questions, because, to light a file well and expeditiously, and to manage it properly afterwards, will contribute much to the comfort and regularity of a house.
As fuel, whether coal or wood, is very expensive in most parts of England, and especially in the metropolis, great care should be taken by servants to prevent its wasteful or unnecessary consumption.
The Maid-of-all-work, or the Cook, must remember, that cinders should always be extremely well sifted, and reserved for kitchen use; they are not only more economical than coal, but for some purposes they answer better.
It is necessary that a Cook should have a good fire for dressing the dinner; but after the cooking is over, she ought to screw up the cheeks of the range, and thus narrow its dimensions. On the hearth she will find many cinders; these she ought to burn in the afternoon and evening, either by themselves or mixed with small coal.
It is here extremely desirable - indeed, the mistress of every family should render the desire peremptory - that the young maid-servant commit to memory the following
They will then remain with her through life, and may prove of incalculable importance.
1. Before you retire to rest, see that every fire in the house is carefully extinguished. This is best effected by lifting off the large coal and caked cinders, and by raking out the smaller cinders; taking care that no hot coal rest upon or near any of the woodwork about the fireplace.
2. Never fall into the dangerous and dreadful practice of reading or sewing in bed. Thousands of lives, and immense quantities of valuable property, have been destroyed by these reprehensible acts.
3. Never get into bed, placing your candle within reach, that you may extinguish it afterwards. The habit is highly dangerous; the candle may be imperfectly extinguished, a spark may fall upon the bed-clothes, the curtains may take fire, and you and all the family may be burnt to death in your beds.
4. Always put your candle out before you get into bed. Do not blow it out, but either snuff it close or use an extinguisher.
5. Always set your candles firmly in the candlesticks; keep them snuffed, but not too closely; and in carrying a lighted candle about the home, remember that the sparks are liable to fly from a long unsnuffed wick.
6. Remember, also, when carrying a lighted candle, to carry it upright; and that, when stooping with it in your hand, your handkerchief or cap may easily be set on fire.
7. On setting a candle down, be careful not to place it too near the curtains, linen, paper, or any other inflammable substance.
8. Never leave a candle burning in a room where no person is present.
9. Never leave a sitting, bed, or any other room wherein there may be a fire, without hanging a wire guard on the bars of the stove.
10. Never leave young children by themselves in a room where there is fire or candle; and be careful to hang the wire guard on securely.
11. Should any extraordinary heat occur, especially where there may be flues, or a smell of smoke or burning, inform your master or mistress immediately.
12. When sitting up late at night, or watching in a sick room, be careful to place the candle safely, lest you unconsciously fall asleep, and set your own clothes or the furniture of the room on fire. A tin or wire candle-guard is desirable on these occasions; or place the candlestick in a hand-basin on the floor.
13. In putting linen before a fire to air, be careful not to place it so near that it may scorch or burn. Watch the linen, and do not leave the room till it is sufficiently aired and removed.
14. Never drop spirits or oil upon the fire.
15. On no account ever attempt to clear the flue of a copper furnace, or any other flue, with gunpowder. The plan is frightfully dangerous.
16. Should the clothes of any person chance to take fire, ring for assistance the instant you are aware of the accident; and, instead of waiting, roll the unfortunate sufferer in the hearth-rug, the carpet, or a blanket. This will extinguish the flames, and probably be the means of saving life. At the same time be careful that your own clothes do not take fire.
17. Never put a poker in the fire and leave it there. Should it fall out upon the hearth-rug, or the carpet, that article will be burned; if upon the floor, the house may be set on fire.
Q. Having lighted your kitchen fire, what is your next occupation?
A. Whilst the fire is burning up, I must sweep the hearth, clear away the ashes, dust and put things in their places; and then, as soon as the kettle boils, I take up a jug of hot water to your chamber door.
Q. How shall I know when you bring the hot water?
A. I shall tap at the door, ma'am; and when you answer, I will put the water down, and return to the kitchen.
Q. What next?
A. I must prepare the parlour for breakfast.
Q. In what manner?
A. I must first clean the stove, fender, and fire-irons; then light the fire; and next roll up the hearth-rug, take it out and shake it, sweep the carpet with a good, clean hair-broom (not always with a carpet-broom), dust the furniture, shake the curtains, and fold them neatly over the pins or bands.
Q. Before you meddle with the curtains or the breakfast-table, I hope you take care that your hands are clean.
A. Yes, ma'am.
A. As quickly as I can, having shut the parlour door, I sweep down the stairs, one by one, from the drawing-room, receiving the dust in a dust-shovel. I also dust the staircase-windows and the balustrade, and any furniture that may be on the landing-place. Next, I sweep the passage or hall, remove and shake the door-mat, sweep (and, if requisite, scour) the street-door steps, removing the dirt from the scrapers, and the splashes of mud, should there be any, from the door; and I rub the door-handle, door-plate, bell-handle, and knocker.
Q. What next?
A. Having again washed my hands, and put on a clean apron, I proceed to lay the Breakfast-Table.
Q. What is your method of doing that?
A. I first put the cover on the table; and then, whether tea or coffee is to be taken, I place as many breakfast cups and saucers as there are persons to take it; small coffee-cups are seldom used for breakfast. For greater convenience the lady who presides at the breakfast-table sometimes prefers having all the cups and saucers placed at her left hand.
Q. What else have you to place on the breakfast-table?
A. I must have also a tea-pot, or coffee-pot or both, as may be required; a milk-jug (the milk must be hot if for coffee), a slop-basin, spoons, a sugar-dish and tongs, small plates and knives and forks, egg-cups and egg-spoons, salt-cellars, mustard-pot, and the cayenne-pepper cruet.
Q. But you have said nothing about the tea-kettle, or the bread and butter, or anything else that is to be eaten for breakfast?
A. I must bring in the clean bright kettle, with the water in a boiling state, and set it on the hob. I place an uncut loaf in a plate - not in a bread-basket - with a knife. With the butter-plate, or dish, there must also be a knife - a silver butter-knife if there be one in use. If cold meat be taken for breakfast, I should place it at the end or side of the table opposite my mistress; and with it a carving-knife and steel fork.
Q. Anything more?
A. Having thus prepared everything, I range the chairs around the table, make the fire up, see that the scuttle is supplied with coal, and then return to the kitchen and get my own breakfast as quickly as I can.
Q. If I use an urn at the breakfast-table, how do you manage?
A. I place the urn behind the tea-pot, on a rug or mat.
Q. Well, but how do you prepare the urn before you bring it into the parlour?
A. Having dusted the urn inside and out, and got the urn-iron quite red-hot, I pour the boiling water into the urn; next I put on the round rim or ring, and then I immediately put the heater in.
Q. Sometimes I have found the water from the urn have an unpleasant taste, or it has had dust floating on the surface; how do you prevent such accidents?
A. The bad taste, or the dust, may proceed from particles of fuel, or of the hot iron, which may be rubbed off the heater in putting it into its place; but if the rim or ring I have just mentioned be carefully put on, before putting in the heater, the unpleasantness will not occur.
Q. I have heard of servants being seriously scalded by the steam from the urn flying up into their face; how is that to be prevented?
A. By taking care that no water is poured, or dropped, into the place where the heater goes.
Q. I generally make the coffee myself, at the breakfast-table, in the parlour, by means of a French coffee-pot or percolator; but should you have occasion to prepare it in the kitchen, and with only a common, old-fashioned coffee-pot, how would you proceed?
A. I would have my coffee-pot perfectly clean and dry, and my coffee as freshly ground as possible.
A. I would put the coffee into the pot, having boiling water ready; and then, in proportion to the strength required, I would pour in from three-quarters of a pint to a pint of water to every ounce of coffee. I would then hold the pot on the fire for a few seconds, but on no account suffer it to boil. Then I would pour about half-a-pint of the liquor into a cup, and instantly pour it back again into the pot, and place it on the hob to settle.
Q. What next?
A. Nothing further, ma'am. In three or four minutes the coffee will be perfectly clear and well-flavoured, and it may be poured off into a bright or china pot for the table.
Q. But do you not use anything for the purpose of fining the coffee?
A. No, ma'am; many persons fine their coffee with a little piece of sole-skin, or isinglass, or the white of an egg; but, by this simple method, nothing of the sort is necessary.
Q. Well, I think your plan a very good one; but still I greatly prefer the percolator, which, since the fashion was introduced from France, has become so cheap that it is within everyone's reach. With nothing else can we make coffee so expeditiously, or with such perfect purity, transparency, and fullness of flavour. Do you know how to use the percolator?
A. Yes, ma'am.
A. To make the machine hot, I pour some boiling water into it. Having discharged this, I place the requisite quantity of coffee in the middle part of the percolator, spread it equally on the bottom, and then press it down not forcibly, but gently, with the piece of tin which has a handle to it. I remove that piece of tin, and lay it aside; put the upper strainer in its place in the middle part of the percolator, pour in gradually the requisite quantity of boiling water, put the lid on, and set the machine on the hob for a short time, to allow the water to percolate through the coffee. When the whole has passed, the coffee will be ready for use.
Q. You tell me that, having pressed the coffee down, you remove the tin; I have been told to allow it to remain in; but I confess I have been sometimes perplexed by the length of time it has taken for the water to pass through.
A. Yes, ma'am; and having been greatly inconvenienced in the same way, I spoke to the maker of the percolator, and he told me to be sure always to remove the tin. I have done so, and now I am never subjected to any delay. To keep the machine clear, nothing more is necessary than occasionally to brush and clear the fine strainer.
Q. Well, all the water having passed through into the lower part of the machine, or what may properly be called the coffee-pot, what do you do?
A. I have then only to lift out the upper portions of the percolator, remove the lid from the top, and apply it to the upper part of the pot, which it is always made to fit.
Q. How do you make buttered toast?
A. I cut, of tolerable thickness, as many whole slices from a loaf as may be required, cutting off the crust, if such be the custom of the family. Just before it is is wanted, and having a good clean fire, I toast the bread as quickly as I can, butter it immediately (on one side, or on both sides, as may be desired), and serve it as hot as possible, or it will not eat short and nice.
Q. How do you make dry toast?
A. That should be in thin slices - usually in half slices, ma'am, unless the loaf be small - and be toasted at some distance from the file, that it may be crisp. It should not be toasted until just before it is wanted, or it will become tough and unpleasant.
Q. How do you send it to table?
A. In a toast-rack, ma'am, which keeps the slices separate. If they were to be laid one upon another in a plate, they would quickly become tough, and almost uneatable.
Q. How do you dress ham, or bacon, for breakfast.
A. I cut it into rather thin slices, or rashers, and then cut off the rind, and also the outside at the bottom.
Q. Do you fry broil, or toast it?
A. Whichever you prefer, ma'am. If fried, it should be done gently, over a slow fire; and many persons think it is greatly improved by having a spoonful of vinegar put into the pan.
Q. Well, which is preferable, broiling or toasting?
A. Most people consider a slice of ham or bacon to be much more delicate if slightly and carefully toasted before a clear fire.
Q. How do you boil eggs for breakfast?
A. I put them into a small saucepan of water, when it boils, and let them boil for three minutes, three minutes and a half, or four minutes, according as they may be liked soft or hard.
Q. Suppose you have neither a clock nor a sand-glass, called an egg-boiler, in the kitchen, how do you manage? Can you guess at the time required?
A. No, ma'am; guessing is a very bad plan; the best way, in such a case, is to put the eggs into cold water, and they will be nicely done in about a minute, or while the pulse beats seventy, after the water has come to a boil.
Q. After you have had your breakfast, and whilst the family is finishing theirs, what do you do?
A. I take a large can of boiling-hot water up-stairs, into the bed-rooms, and also a slop-pail. I go through all the rooms, open the windows, unless the weather be bad, empty the slops, scald the different vessels, and wipe them dry with cloths I keep for the purpose.
Q. What next?
A. I put on a large, clean, bed-making apron, which goes all round me, and so prevents my gown from soiling the bed-clothes or furniture.
Q. What do you do then?
A. I dust two of the chairs, and place them at the foot of the bed. Then I draw back the curtains, and remove the counterpane, blankets, and sheets, one by one, turning them over upon the chairs, and taking care not to let them drag upon the floor. In taking off the sheets, I give each of them a shaking, to cool them by letting the fresh air pass through and over them. I also shake the pillows and bolster, and lay them aside. Next I shake the bed, and leave it to air.
Q. Of course, in removing the clothes, you take care to keep them in right order, so that when you come to make the bed, they will fall into their proper places, as they were before; and that the seams of the sheets will not be inside?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Well, as you will probably soon be wanted to remove the breakfast things, how do you proceed?
A. I must leave my apron up-stairs, to put on again when I make the beds. I take the slop-pail down, empty it, rinse it well, and place it to drain.
Q. What next?
A. I carry up a tray to the parlour, on which to remove the breakfast things; and if there are any crumbs on the floor, I bring a dust-shovel and hand-brush to sweep them up. Next, I wash the breakfast things, and the glasses that were used last night.
Q. And then?
A. Then, if you please, I will receive instructions for dinner, make the necessary preparations, and afterwards return to finish the beds and bed-rooms.
Where there is a second servant - a cook,for instance - it is part of her duty to assist in making the beds; but where there is only one, it will be not only a great relief to her, but will much expedite the business of the day, and cause the beds to be better made than they can be by a single pair of hands, or without the allowance of additional time - and consequently conduce to the general comfort of the family - if the mistress, or one of the grown-up young ladies, will assist. However, in either case, the maid-of-all-work must exert herself in the performance of her duty.
Q. Well, having completed your arrangements preparatory to cooking the dinner, how do you proceed with your bed-making?
A. Having washed my hands, I again put on my large apron. Then I shake the bed well, in all directions, turn it over, and take care that the feathers do not get into lumps.
Q. But the mattresses - you know there are generally two or three of them; the lowest, which is stuffed with straw, and called a paillasse; and the others filled with horse-hair, wool, or flock - how do you manage them?
A. The paillasse does not require to be turned more than once or twice a week; but the mattress, or mattresses, as well as the bed, must be shaken and turned over every day.
Q. What is the object of this shaking and turning?
A. To give them the advantage of fresh air, and thus keep the bedding cool, and sweet, and wholesome.
A. After I have thoroughly shaken and turned the mattress, I replace the bed, laying it square with the bedstead, smooth and even, but not flattened; then put on the under blanket, and over that the under sheet, straight and smooth; tucking the sheet well under the bed on the upper mattress.
Q. What next?
A. Then I shake up the bolster and pillows, and lay them straight in their places at the head of the bed; after which I put on the upper sheet, with the wrong side uppermost, leaving enough at the feet to tuck in firmly, and sufficient at the head to turn down. Next, I place the blankets - one, two, or more, according to the time of the year, or the wish of the occupant of the bed - and when I have put the last blanket on, I tuck in the whole together, firmly, with the upper sheet, and, according to their length, fold them over in one or more folds.
Q. What more have you to do?
A. I next put on the counterpane or quilt. I do not tuck that in, but leave it to hang equally low at each side, and at the foot of the bed.
Q. What is your rule for placing the counterpane properly?
A. There is generally a flower, or some other conspicuous figure, in the centre of the counterpane; and when I have got that at an equal distance, on the top of the bed, from the head, foot, and sides, I know that it will fall and hang properly.
A. Then I draw my hand across the counterpane, along the lower edge of the pillows, so that their form may be seen beneath.
Q. What is your rule for laying the sheets properly, so that you may not turn them head to feet, or the inside outwards?
A. When I put on clean sheets, I always put the mark of the under sheet at the right-hand corner, at the foot of the bed; and the mark of the upper sheet, also at the foot of the bed, but at the left-hand corner; by which means the sheets are always kept in their proper places.
Q. Well, after you have arranged the counterpane in the way you said, what else have you to do?
A. If the bedstead be a four-post one, I draw the lower curtains towards the feet of the bed; then I fold them in and out, in folds about half-a-yard wide, and turn them on the bed, from the post towards the middle. Next, I fold the head curtains in the same manner, and place them in a straight line upon the pillows. Some ladies prefer having all the curtains drawn to the head of the bed, placing the lower curtains thus upon the pillows, and allowing the head curtains to hang down.
Q. If the bedstead be one of the French sort, or a tent, how do you dispose of the curtains?
A. Then, ma'am, I have only to loop them up.
Q. Have you anything else to do in the bed-rooms?
A. I have now only to draw the flue gently from under the bedstead with a long hair-broom, or with a clean, damp, but not wet, flannel; to dust the furniture; to fill the jugs with soft water, and the bottles with spring water; and to see that everything is in its place.
Q. What have you to do in the bed-rooms in the evening or at night?
A. To prepare the bed by turning down the counterpane, blankets, and upper sheet, one over the other, so that the edge of the fold may reach nearly as high as the middle of the pillows; to draw the bed-curtains; carefully to close the windows and pull down the blinds; to remove the dirty water from the wash-hand basins; and to replenish the jugs and water-bottles.
Q. On the days appointed for sweeping down and cleaning the bed-room stairs, and cleaning the bed-rooms, what is your first proceeding?
A. I must be careful to shut all the room doors, and to sweep the dust off the stairs, one by one, into a dust-shovel; but it is better, I think, to clean the rooms before cleaning the stairs; as, if I clean the stairs first, I may soil them by going up and down with the chamber carpets.
Q. Of course you are particular in never leaving anything upon the stairs, at any time of the day, even for a minute; very serious accidents having frequently happened through the negligence of servants, in leaving a brush, a broom, a shovel, or perhaps a pail in the way, which may not happen to be seen?
A. Yes, ma'am, I am always very particular in this.
Q. Well, when you get into the bed-room, what do you do first?
A. If the carpeting is not nailed down, I roll it up, and take it away to be shaken; or, if necessary, to be beaten in the air.
Q. And then?
A. I open the windows and take the whole of the bed-clothes off the bed, fold them up, and place them on two chairs; having an old sheet, or other large cloth, kept for the purpose, and called a dusting-sheet, to throw over them and protect them from the dust. Next, I turn up the valance of the bed, and cover the bed, and the dressing-table, and the washing-stand.
Q. What next?
A. I clean the stove, fender, and fire-irons; after which, I strew tea-leaves, or damp sand, over the floor and under the bed, and such of the furniture, as the wardrobe and chest of drawers, that cannot easily be removed. Then I place the chairs and tables in the middle of the room, while I sweep the sides, and also the walls and the ceiling, with a long, clean, Turk's-head broom, kept for the purpose, and dust the window-frames, panels, &c. Then I kneel down and sweep carefully under the bed and the large furniture; and then, having drawn all the dirt into one spot, I get it into the dust-pan, carry it down-stairs, and throw it at once into the dust-bin.
Q. And then?
A. While below, I shake the carpets, and this will allow time for the dust which has been disturbed to settle before I dust, wipe, or polish the furniture.
Q. What next?
A. I take the dusting-brush and carefully brush the edges of the bed, mattress, and bolsters; also the curtains, valance, tester, and every part where dust can have lodged; after which I dust and rub the bed-posts, and then I make the bed.
A. I next polish the dressing-glass, and then lay it, with its face downwards, on the counterpane, placing the dressing-case and the pincushion, and whatever else there may be belonging to the table, by its side; and covering all over with the sheet which I had before used to cover the bed-clothes with.
Q. What do you do next in order?
A. I must clean and arrange the washing-stand, and the different articles belonging to it.
Q. If it have a marble top, how do you manage?
A. I wash it with a cloth and clear warm water, and then wipe it dry.
Q. If painted?
A. Then I use a clean flannel, with warm water and a very little soap; touching it lightly, lest the soap should injure the paint, and wiping it dry with a soft linen cloth.
Q. And the hand-basin, water-jug, sponge-dish, and strainer, tooth and nail-brush trays, water-bottle, and tumbler?
A. I must wash them all, wipe them dry, and put them in their places; - the jug in the basin, and the tumbler turned down on the top of the water.
Q. And the sponges and brushes?
A. I have been strictly charged, ma'am, never upon my account to meddle with sponges or brushes of any description, unless I am told; as both ladies and gentlemen always like to keep them untouched by any but themselves.
Q. That is right; but suppose you are desired
how would you do it?
A. It is easily done, ma'am, and either of them is very soon cleaned. Nothing is wanted but some warm - not hot - water, and a small piece of soda. I dissolve the soda in the water, dab the hair part of the brush a few times into the mixture, rinse it well with cold water, wipe it, and set it to dry. It will be quite fit for use in half-an-hour, or less.
Q. And the comb?
A. That may be cleaned with the water and soda in much the same manner; or, if very dirty, the passing of some thread, or fine twine, between the teeth, will quicken the process.
Q. And the towels, which, like brushes, sponges, and combs, you must be very particular never to make use of yourself?
A. The towels, always two or more, I must hang upon the towel-horse, ready for use.
Q. Well, before you scrub the floor, what do you do?
A. I pin up the valance of the bed, to prevent it from getting splashed or soiled.
Q. Then, having scrubbed and washed the floor, rubbed it with a coarse cotton cloth, and left it for a time to dry, with the windows still open, and the furniture all in order, what more have you to do?
A. Only to unpin the valance and lay the carpets down smoothly.
Q. In speaking of the bed-rooms, we mentioned scrubbing, but are you sure that you know how to scrub a floor?
A. Yes, ma'am; my mother taught me, and she always said, that “clean water and a strong, willing arm made clean floors.”
Q. Very good; but method is required in scrubbing a floor, as well as in everything else; what is your method?
A. Having covered such parts of the furniture as most require it with a dusting-sheet, and got it as closely together as I can, I sprinkle the floor with some damp tea-leaves, or sand; then I sweep all the dust and dirt up into a corner, get it into the dust-shovel, and carry it to the dust-bin. Next, I take a pail of water - hot or cold as the case may require - a woollen cloth, a scrubbing-brush, and some common soap and sand. (Bed-room floors will be kept a better colour without the soap.) Then I kneel down, and wet as much of the floor with the flannel as I can fairly reach.
Q. But at what part of the room do you begin?
A. At that part which is farthest from the door, so that I may work backwards. I scrub every part within my reach with all the force of my arm, using sand wherever the boards happen to be stained, black, or very dirty. I scour straight up and down; that is, lengthwise with the wood, not crossing up and down.
Q. I hope you scrub into all the corners, and that you carefully wash and wipe the skirting-board, not too roughly, or the soap may take off the paint?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. How do you proceed?
A. After scrubbing as long as is requisite to clean the first portion of the floor, I wash it over again with the flannel, putting on plenty of water, so that all the soapy dirty water left by scrubbing may be taken up by the flannel.
Q. This, I suppose, is to prevent the boards, when dry from having an unfinished, streaked appearance, as though they had not been half cleaned?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. And then, retreating, you wet and scrub another part of the floor, and so on till you have done the whole?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. But you cannot do all this with one pail of water; if you attempt it, you will be using dirty water which can never make the boards clean?
A. No, ma'am; I change the water frequently; and it will be an advantage if I have a piece of soda, about the size of a walnut, in each pailful.
Q. And how do you dry each portion of the floor as you go on?
A. I rub it dry with a coarse cotton cloth.
Q. And what do you do when the whole of the floor is thoroughly dry?
A. With a skewer and a brush I remove any sand or bits of woollen that may have been worked into the corners or crevices.
Q. Do you know
A. Yes, ma'am. Having dissolved some dried fuller's-earth in a small quantity of hot water, to the consistency of thick paste, I let it get quite cold. Then I cover the grease spots with it, thickly; and after it has remained all night, or for several hours, until thoroughly dry, I scour it off with cold water. Should the grease, from being very deep in the wood, not have disappeared, I must repeat the operation two or three times, or as often as may be necessary for its removal.
Q. When, and how, do you clean your kitchen hearth?
A. I clean it every day, before breakfast and after dinner.
Q. How do you clean stone hearths, floors, door-steps, and the like?
A. From a stone hearth I first sweep off the cinder-dust; I also sweep the floor or steps; and, alter sweeping, I wash them perfectly clean with cold water and a flannel. In the winter, to keep stone of a good colour, I put a little soda into the water.
Q. Well, what do you do next?
A. After washing, I rub the hearths, steps, or floors, with a piece of hearth-stone, till they are quite white; then I rinse or wring out my flannel till it is nearly dry; after which I pass it lightly backwards and forwards, lengthwise and in a straight direction, over the stones, which will give them a smooth and almost glossy appearance.
Q. Is there not another way to make stone stairs or halls look white and nice?
A. Some use pipe-clay, ma'am, instead of hearth-stone, by rubbing moistened clay over the stones, and then smoothing it with a woollen cloth; but this is a very sluttish, untidy method; as, out of doors, in wet weather, the pipe-clay is soon washed off; and in dry weather, it easily rubs off, adheres to the feet, and is thus made to soil the carpets.
[But I can give you
which is not liable to these objections. It is rather more expensive, and its application requires rather more time; but in some cases it is much preferable to either of the ways you have mentioned:-
Boil together half-a-pint each of size and stone-blue water, with two table-spoonfuls of whiting, and two cakes of pipe-clay, in about two quarts of water; wash the stones over with a flannel wetted with this mixture; and when dry, rub them with flannel and a brush. Their appearance will be beautiful, and their whiteness of a considerable durability.]
Q. How do you clean floor-cloth, - that in the passage or hall, for instance?
A. About twice a week, ma'am, I, after sweeping, wipe it with a damp flannel, and then with a dry cloth; but it must not be scrubbed, or even washed with soap, as the soap would destroy the paint, and then the canvas itself would become rotten by the penetration of the water. I believe the best way is, after using the damp flannel, to wet the floor-cloth over with milk, and rub it till bright with a dry cloth. It will then look nearly, if not quite, as well as though it had been rubbed with a waxed flannel, without being so slippery, or so soon clogging with dust or dirt.
Q. As I am very particular in having the brass-plate, handle, key-hole, escutcheon, knocker, and everything about the front door, kept clean and bright, I wish to know how you manage them?
A. The only difficulty is with the large plate with the name, and the key-hole plate. In each case, so as to clean them without injuring the paint at the edges, I cut the exact size and form of the plate out of a piece of mill-board, or very stout paste-board; place the mill board against the door, and rub the plate with leather and some rotten-stone, or crocus, made damp with sweet oil. Then I wipe the plate with a soft dry cloth.
Q. And the large brass handle, and the bell-pull, and the knocker?
A. All the brass work may be kept clean with the leather and rotten-stone. The knocker, if painted, or if bronze, will require to be only dusted and wiped.
Q. Are you aware that it is part of your business immediately to answer the bell, or the knocker at the hall door - never to keep any person waiting - as well as the bell from the parlour, drawingroom, or bed-rooms?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. And how do you open and close the hall door, on the entrance and departure of a visitor?
A. In either case I open the door to its full width; and on the departure of a visitor, I do not close the door until the lady or gentleman has left.
Q. On the call of a stranger, or even of a friend, what do you do?
A. I request the name or card of the party, and immediately apprise my mistress, or my master, if at home.
Q, If your mistress or master be at home, what do you then do?
A. I open the parlour or drawingroom door, distinctly mention the name, and allow the party to walk in.
Q. When I ring, you of course attend to let the visitor out?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. If no one be at home when a person calls, what do you do?
A. I request the name or card of the visitor to be left.
Q. If the person merely leave his or her name, or a message?
A. I write it down on a slate, kept for the purpose, that I may not forget it.
Q. How do you bring me or your master any letter, note, card, or small parcel that may be left?
A. On a small waiter, ma'am.
Q. I hope you never show strangers into the parlour or drawingroom, and leave them there alone?
A. No, ma'am.
Q. And I hope you are very careful in receiving and delivering messages - that you understand them clearly; and that, to prevent mistakes, you are particular in pronouncing names correctly?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. What is your usual method of cleaning stoves?
A. Having rolled up the hearth-rug, and taken it away to shake, I lay down a piece of drugget, or old carpet, or brown or black holland, in front of the fireplace, to prevent the carpet from getting soiled; I empty the stove of the cinders and ashes - sweep the dust carefully from the stove-front, hobs, and hearth - and carry away all the dirt, in a dust-pan, to the bin.
Q. Well, as common parlour-stoves - their fronts, bars, and hobs - the fluted iron lining above the hobs - the points of the pokers and tongs, and inside of the fender and fire-shovel - all require to be polished with black-lead once, and sometimes twice a week, what are the materials you will want for the purpose?
A. I should have a box in which to keep the black-lead, the stove-brushes, and a little shallow earthen pan; also a piece of soft leather and some rotten-stone, to clean the fire-irons with.
Q. How do you prepare and apply the black-lead?
A. I put some of the black-lead into the little pan I mentioned, and add a small quantity of water, or small beer, but not sufficient to make it very wet; and then, all the dust having been carefully removed, I take a small round blacking-brush, dab it into the prepared blacking, and rub it over the stove-a part of the stove only at a time.
A. Without suffering the blackened part of the stove to get quite dry, I take the polishing-brush, and use it briskly till I get a polish equal to that of varnish. I proceed in the same manner with each remaining part the stove, till the whole is finished.
Q. What are the bristles for at the end of the polishing brush?
A. They are intended for working into the corners, and into the ornamental work of the stove, which could not be properly polished by the flat part of the brush.
Q. As some stoves are, either wholly or in part, of bright, highly-polished steel how do you keep them - as well as the fire-irons - clean, and free from rust?
A. By rubbing them every day with a clean soft leather.
Q. But, should they accidentally get spotted with rust?
A. Then I put a little dry rotten-stone on the leather I rub them with.
Q. But, suppose that, from neglect or any other cause, they should be in a very bad state, how would you
A. I would cover all the rusted parts with sweet oil, and let it remain on for eight-and-forty hours; then I would sprinkle finely-powdered unslaked lime over the oil, and rub the steel briskly with a polishing-leather, till the rust should disappear.
Q. When you light a fire in a stove that has
what do you do to prevent the flame from touching the bars?
A. I put the wood as far back in the stove as I can.
Q. In case the bright bars should get black by the fire, do you know how to remove the black, and restore the polish, without much time or trouble?
A. Yes, ma'am; I get a pound of soft soap, and boil it slowly in two quarts of water till reduced to one. It will then be a jelly, of which I take three or four spoonfuls, and mix with some emery. With this mixture, on a piece of woollen cloth (the cloth that gentlemen's coats are made of is the best), I rub the bars well; and, when the dirt is entirely removed, I wipe them clean, polish them with a piece of the finest glass paper (not sand paper, which is too coarse), and then rub them with soft leather and rotten-stone.
Q. As some stoves have two sets of moveable bars, one set black, to be used in winter, the other set of bright polished steel, to be used in summer, how do you preserve the steel set from rust, when they are laid by?
A. I melt some fresh mutton suet, and, while quite hot, I rub it well over the bars; and then, with unslaked lime, powdered, and tied up in a piece of muslin, I dust the bars well, wrap them in baize, and put them away in a dry place. Bright fire-irons, of any description, smeared with hot melted mutton, may be kept secure from rust for many months. It may be as well, however, to examine them occasionally.
Q. If your fender be of cast-iron, how do you keep it in order?
A. By polishing with black-lead, in the same manner as the stove.
Q. If japanned, or bronzed?
A. Then it need only be dusted, unless it should have been made very dirty, in which case it may be slightly washed, and wiped dry with a piece of soft clean rag.
Q. Well, having thoroughly cleaned and polished your stove, what more have you to do?
A. Only to fetch a pail of water, a flannel, and a dry cloth and to wash the hearth.
Q. But you take care not to allow the water to settle, or leave any mark or stain on the marble or stone?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. What is your every-day attention to a carpeted room - that is, a Parlour or a Drawingroom?
A. I first set the small tables, the chairs, and such other pieces of furniture as are easily removed, in the middle of the room; then I roll up the hearth-rug, and take it away to be beaten; after which I pin or turn up the window-curtains, and throw cloths kept for the purpose over the sofas, and whatever else may be liable to be injured by dust.
A. Then I sprinkle the sides of the room with moist tea-leaves, and sweep all the dirt and leaves carefully, but lightly, towards either the door or the hearth, attending particularly to the corners.
Q. What sort of a broom do you use for the purpose?
A. Excepting two or three times a week, when the carpet-broom is necessary, I use a clean hair-broom. The carpet-broom should not be used frequently, and always with a very light hand, because it wears out the carpet.
Q. Well, how do you proceed?
A. Having swept the sides and corners of the room, and beneath the large heavy furniture, by kneeling down and using a hand-broom, I put the chairs and other things in their places. The middle of the room is thus cleared, and over that I sprinkle fresh tea-leaves - sweep it, and collect all the leaves and dirt into a dust-pan for removal. That done, I remove the cloths from the sofas, and, with a soft cloth or duster and a dusting-brush, I carefully dust and wipe every article in the room, and set it in its proper place.
Q. Where there happens to be any carving or gilding, glass or china ornaments, what do you do?
A. Most of those things require to be handled gently and with great care, and the best duster for them is an old clean and soft silk pocket-handkerchief. As the dust gathers much in cut or carved work, a moderately hard brush should be used for it; and, where the openings or spaces are sufficiently large, I introduce the dusting-cloth with one of my fingers.
Q. Well, so much for everyday-attention; now tell me how you proceed
But, first, I wish to know how often you consider it necessary to go through that business; that is, how many times in the year would you clean a Parlour, Breakfast, Dining, or Drawing Room?
A. All those rooms should be thoroughly cleaned three or four times in the year, especially in towns, because the dirt gathers more rapidly in them than in the country.
Q. What are the best and most convenient seasons of the year for this thorough cleaning?
A. About the beginning of May and the latter end of October.
Q. Why those two months in particular?
A. Because they are very convenient seasons for the exchange of winter to summer, and summer to winter curtains. The days are also of a desirable length.
Q. Well, what are your first steps?
A. To remove as much of the furniture as I can into another apartment, that it may be out of the way, and to protect it from the dust and dirt; and then I cover the remainder - that is, the large pieces of furniture, the sofas, and the pictures and looking-glasses - with dusting-sheets and cloths.
Q. What do you do respecting the curtains?
A. I take them down, shake, brush, properly clean, fold, and put them away. If they are summer muslin curtains, they should be washed.
Q. But suppose it is not desirable to take them down?
A. Then I inclose them in bags like long pillow-cases, which are usually kept for the purpose; or, should there not be any bags, I carefully pin them up in cloths, to preserve them from the dust.
Q. What next?
A. I take the fender and fire-irons into the kitchen to be cleaned; and then I take the carpet up, raising as little dust as I can, and carry it away to be beaten.
Q. In case we should not have a man to assist, or to take it into the fields to beat and clean, do you know
A. Yes, ma'am. I first hang it over a smooth wooden pole, if there be one kept for the purpose; or if not, on a very strong line; and then, with a long, thick, smooth stick, I beat it, first on the wrong side, and then on the right. Next I sweep it on both sides, quite clean, with carpet-broom - wipe it with a clean, damp flannel - let it hang till the evening, then take it down, and fold it, ready to put in its place the next morning.
Q. Suppose it to have got faded, or soiled with grease-spots, or the like, do you know
A. Yes, ma'am. Should it not be much soiled, I grate one or two raw potatoes into a little water, mix them together, and sponge the mixture over any faded or greased parts of the carpet; by which means the spots will be removed, and the colours brightened.
Q. But if very dirty?
A. Then, having laid it down on the grass, or on a clean floor, and brushed it on both sides with a hand-brush, I place it with the right side upwards, and scour it with bullock's gall and soap and water, very clean, and dry it with linen cloths. If in the country, I leave it for a time lying on the grass to dry; otherwise, I hang it up.
Q. Well, having cleared the room of the carpet, and removed or covered the rest of the furniture, what more have you to do before you proceed to wash and scour? A. This is a proper time, ma'am, to have the chimney swept.
Q. How often should chimneys be swept?
A. In drawingrooms, or apartments in which fires are not constantly kept, two or three times a year are sufficient; but the kitchen chimney should be swept every two months at least.
Q. Well, the chimney having been swept, what do you do next?
A. I clean the stove and fire-place, using a pair of strong leather gloves, to prevent my hands from afterwards soiling the furniture; then I sprinkle the floor with damp tea-leaves or sand, and sweep it; after which I carefully dust every part of the room - the ceiling, the wainscot, the paper - and dust, clean, and rub the furniture.
Q. How do you manage the ceiling and the walls?
A. For getting at them, I must have a short ladder, or a pair of steps; and then I sweep them with a clean long-handled broom, or with a broom covered with a clean duster.
Q. How do you clean the paint - such as the doors, wainscoting, sills, sash-frames, chimney-piece, closets, and whatever there may be?
A. I use warm water, a flannel, and soap (but not soda, for that is very destructive to paint), wash all the paint-work very lightly, and wipe it dry with a soft linen cloth.
Q. How do you clean the brass-work, which is usually lacquered, such as the handles and finger-plates of the doors, the keyhole escutcheons, brass hinges, the curtain-bands or pins, the table-casters, and the handles of the bell-pulls.
A. I wash them with clean warm water, and soap if necessary, and dry them with a clean soft cloth.
Q. Should there be any brass-work in the room not lacquered, how do you clean it?
A. With a little sweet oil and rotten-stone, on a leather; polishing it afterwards with a piece of clean soft leather.
Q. How do you clean and polish the mahogany and fancy-wood furniture?
A. If the wood be French-polished, a little linseed oil, or spirits of turpentine, are the best application. If dirty, it is necessary, only slightly, to wash such parts as may be soiled, with lukewarm water and soap, and to rub the whole dry with a clean soft cloth. If not French-polished, I wash such parts as are very dirty with a little small-beer, or milk-and-water; then rub the whole till thoroughly day, smooth, and bright; and afterwards polish with bee's-wax and turpentine.
Q. Do you know
A. Yes, ma'am; I cut a quarter of a pound of yellow wax into small pieces, and, melting it in a glazed pipkin, add an ounce of well-pounded colophony - a sort of resin.
A. The wax and colophony being both melted, I pour in, by degrees, quite warm, two ounces of oil or spirit of turpentine. When the whole is thoroughly mixed, I pour it into a tin or earthen pot, and keep it covered for use.
Q. How do you use it?
A. I spread a little of it on a piece of woollen cloth, and rub it well into the wood, lengthwise - that is, with the grain - and in a few days the gloss will be firm.
Q. I think I have heard of
prepared without turpentine. Are you acquainted with it?
A. Yes, ma'am; and I think it is preferable to the one I have just described. I take a quarter of an ounce of the finest white soap, grate it small, and put it into a new glazed pipkin, with a pint of water; hold it over the fire till the soap is dissolved; then add a quarter of an ounce of bleached wax, cut into small pieces, and three ounces of common wax. I stir it occasionally over the fire, with a piece of stick, and as soon as the whole is dissolved and incorporated, it is fit for use.
Q. How do you apply it?
A. Having well cleaned the table, or whatever the furniture maybe, I dip a bit of flannel into the mixture while it is warm, and rub it on the wood; let it stand a quarter of an hour, then apply a hand-brush briskly in all directions, and finish with a piece of flannel. This will produce a beautiful gloss, and not so likely to smear with the touch of a finger as the other.
Q. I do not approve the application of water, or even of beer, or milk-and-water, to mahogany, unless it be very dirty indeed; and unless the greatest care and attention be given in using the mixtures you have described, the polish is apt to be sticky and unpleasant to the touch. Is there no other method of keeping mahogany in good order, and with a bright face?
A. Yes, ma'am; in extreme cases of neglect or dirt, I could effect a thorough cleaning by the application of oil and brickdust.
Q. Oil and brickdust! In what manner?
A. I rub the oil over the furniture with a bit of flannel or a small painting-brush. It must be cold-drawn linseed oil. Then I put some brickdust into the leg of a fine old worsted stocking, free from holes, tie the stocking at each end, leaving the brickdust rather loose in the middle, and shake the dust over the oiled furniture. Then I take a piece of soft carpeting or woollen cloth, and rub the furniture for a long time, with the grain of the wood, occasionally repeating the oil and brickdust, till the furniture is perfectly clean. I then clear off the remains, if any, of the oil and brickdust; and, with a piece of clean flannel, or another piece of clean soft carpeting and a handful or two of bran, I, in a very short time, obtain a beautiful and durable polish, that will not soil by the touch.
Q. Is not linseed oil good for the general cleaning, preserving, and polishing of mahogany furniture?
A. Yes, ma'am; it is the best preservative known; and, by the application of a very little now and then, on a rag, it, with good rubbing, produces a gloss not quite so brilliant as that of French polish, but much superior in all other respects.
Q. Do you know
A. Yes, ma'am; if recent, the stains may be removed by putting a little salt of lemons on the spot, and rubbing it off with a cloth wetted in hot water. Should the stains be of long standing, I would touch the part with a feather dipped in a weak solution of vitriol (or a few drops of the oil of vitriol in a teaspoonful of water), and immediately that the stain disappears, rub the vitriol off with a rag dipped in cold water. If not taken off directly, the vitriol will leave a white mark not easily effaced. Should not the stain disappear at once, the operation must be repeated.
Q. In attending to the furniture, I hope you take care that the carved work of the chairs, if they have any, and the corners, rims, and legs of sideboards, tables, and the like, are as thoroughly cleaned as the surface?
A. Yes, ma'am; I always look to them particularly.
Q. How do you manage the sofas, ottomans, chairs and any other articles that may have moveable cushions?
A. I remove the cushions and then wipe the frames; after which I take the cushions or ottomans into the open air, beat them with a slight cane, dust their covers, and restore them to their places as soon as the cleaning of the room is finished, and the carpet laid down.
Q. What more have you to do before you wash and scour the room?
A. I have to clean the windows, and the looking-glasses, and any glass or other ornaments that there may be on the mantelpiece.
Q. Do you know
A. Yes, ma'am; if the windows open like doors - called French windows - or if the upper sashes are moveable, as well as the lower ones, there is no difficulty; but if not, it is usual for the glazier to clean the outsides five or six times in the year. The insides generally require to be cleaned once a week.
Q. Well, what is your method?
A. I first dust the frames and the glass with a light dusting-brush or cloth; and then, with water and a wet piece of wash-leather, I wash two or three panes of glass at a time, commencing with the upper panes. Next, I rinse the leather, wring it as dry as I can, then shake it out, and wipe, as quickly as I can, the two or three panes I washed. Immediately afterwards, with a dry piece of wash-leather, or a soft clean cloth - but the leather is preferable - I wipe them perfectly dry and clear, and then proceed with two or three more panes in the same manner, till the whole are done. The wet leather I wash, rinse, wring, shake out, and hang up to dry, and it will be ready for use the next time it is wanted.
Q. I hope you take care to wash and wipe into the corners of each pane?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Well, do you know
A. Yes, ma'am. Having blown the dust off the gilt frame, or removed it with a very light, soft dusting-brush, I wash the glass, taking particular care not to wet or rub the gilding.
Q. But what is your method of washing?
A. Keeping for this purpose a piece of fine sponge, a soft cloth, and an old silk handkerchief, all perfectly clean, as the least grit would scratch the surface of the glass, I first sponge it with a little spirits of wine, or gin-and-water, so as to remove all spots. Then I dust the glass over with powder-blue, tied in muslin, rub it lightly and quickly oil, and polish with the silk handkerchief.
Q. How do you clean the lustres or other glass ornaments on the mantelpiece?
A. I dust them lightly with a soft dusting-brush; after which, if they require it, I wash them carefully in cold water, and wipe them quite dry with a soft cloth.
Q. Do you know
A. Yes, ma'am. I take some bullock's gall, a quarter of a pint of soap-lees, half a quarter of a pint of spirits of turpentine, and make the whole into a paste with pipe-clay. I apply this mixture to the marble, and let it dry on for a day or two. Then I rub it off, and, if the marble be not clean, I apply the mixture a second or third time, until it thoroughly succeeds.
Q. Do you know
A. Yes, ma'am. To remove Ink-stains, I mix some unslaked lime, very finely powdered, with strong soap-lees. I make the mixture pretty thick; lay it on the marble with a painting-brush; and let it remain on for eight or ten weeks. Then, I wash off the mixture; and having a strong thick lather of soft soap, boiled in soft water, I dip a brush into the lather, and then into the powder of unslaked lime, and scour the marble well. Then I clean off the soap and lime, and finish with a smooth hand-brush, rubbing briskly till a beautiful polish is produced.
Q. And how do you remove the Iron-stains?
A. I take an equal quantity of fresh spirits of vitriol and lemon-juice, mixed together in a bottle. I shake the mixture well, wet the spots with it, and in a few minutes rub with a piece of soft linen till they disappear.
Q. Should this application of acid take off the polish of the marble, what is to be done?
A. The polish may easily be restored by the use of a piece of felt, with some powder of putty or of tripoli, mixed with water.
Q. Now I suppose you may wash, scrub, and thoroughly clean your parlour or drawingroom in the same manner as you did the bed-room; laying down the carpet,and putting everything in its place in the morning?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. What is your business in a Library, Study, Counting-house, or other apartments where there may be books and papers?
A. Only to light the fire and dust the furniture, unless I am particularly directed to do anything else.
Q. What do you do respecting the books and papers that may be lying about?
A. I never remove them from their places, ma'am, unless am told; I only dust around them, or lift them up with one hand, and dust under them with the other, and let them rest on the same spot.
Q. And you never, upon any account, burn or otherwise destroy any loose papers, unless you are told?
A. No, ma'am.
Q. How came you to be thus particular?
A. Because I have been told that the removal or destruction of letters or papers may occasion a great deal of trouble, or perhaps cause serious mischief.
Q. You are quite right: you cannot be too scrupulous on such points; and I hope you are equally particular never to read any letters or loose papers, to whomsoever they may belong, that fall in your way?
A. Yes, ma'am; for I have always been taught, that written papers are the property of those to whom they may have been addressed, or of those by whom they have been written; and that to read the letters or papers of others, without permission, is to be guilty of an act of dishonesty.
In families where only one servant is kept, the cookery is generally simple, with few dishes, and the arrangements are altogether of a plain, unostentatious character. Where there are two servants - a cook and a housemaid, for example - the arrangements are likely to be different, more varied, and in rather a superior style. This will be shown when we come to the particular duties of the housemaid. But under any and all circumstances, the utmost nicety of attention is requisite in the servant, or servants, on the score of cleanliness and neatness; and in nothing more so than as regards personal appearance at meals.
In small families, it is generally the practice for the mistress to go into the kitchen every morning, to ascertain what may be required for the day's use - to give out soap, candles, or whatever else may be kept in the store-room - and to arrange with her servants about dinner and the other business of the day. A good servant will therefore take care to have her kitchen neat and clean, with everything in its place; and also to tell her mistress at once what she will be likely to want.
Excepting occasionally, when there may be company - a dinner, tea, or supper party which will be noticed hereafter, in the housemaid's department, we will suppose the daily family dinner to consist of fish, or soup, or possibly both fish and soup - a joint of meat, roasted or boiled, hot or cold, with vegetables - and a pudding, pie, or tart.
Q. Having got through your morning's usual work, and made yourself clean and neat, how do you prepare for laying the cloth and placing the dinner on the table?
A. First, I fill the salt-cellars, and see that the casters are properly supplied with oil and vinegar, pepper and mustard, and cayenne pepper.
Q. What is your method respecting the Salt-cellars?
A. Having placed two clean lumps of salt in a plate before the fire, at a moderate distance, until quite dry, I either reduce them to a fine powder by rolling them with a rolling-pin, or I rub the two lumps against each other over a clean dish, or a sheet of clean paper; and then I fill the glasses with the fine salt thus produced, pressing each down with the bottom of the other, and leaving a wet impression on the top. A salt-spoon should be laid across the top of each.
Q. How do you mix your Mustard?
A. With four teaspoonfuls of hot water I gradually mix half an ounce of mustard and half a teaspoonful of salt - slowly adding a little more water, if required - till it is quite smooth. Then, when cold, I put it into the custard-pot, or cruet, taking care not to soil the sides or slop.
A. Then I wipe the bread-basket, waiters, spoons, and sauce-ladles, and arrange everything required upon the dinner-tray, so that it may be readily carried into the dining-room.
Q. And what do you do in the dining-room?
A. About half an hour before dinner-time, I dust the table, and spread the cloth over it neatly; taking care that the centre pattern of the cloth, if it have one, be exactly in the centre of the table. By this means the sides and ends of the cloth will hang equally at the sides and ends of the table.
Q. What next?
A. Having brought the dinner-tray up-stairs, I either leave it on a slab, or on a tray-stand, outside of the dining-room door, or set it in a convenient corner of the room, and proceed to place the things on the table.
Q. In what manner?
A. First, I place the salt-cellars, one at each corner of the table, if there are four; if only two, one at one corner of the table at the top, and the other at the same hand corner at the bottom; laying either one or two table-spoons by the side of each. Then I place a carving knife and fork, and a gravy-spoon, and a plain knife and fork, inside of the carvers, at the top of the table, and the same at the bottom; the handle of the gravy-spoon to the right hand, and the bowl to the left. At the top of the table, I lay the fish-slice in the same manner; and at the bottom the soup-ladle; and I place a knife and fork, a dessert-spoon, a tumbler, a wine-glass, and a piece of bread, for each person who is to dine.
Q. What is your method of cutting and laying the bread?
A. I cut a round from the loaf - rather more than an inch in thickness; and if it be a four-pound loaf, I divide the round into six pieces. The bread I lay on the left hand of each person, that it may not interfere with the glasses, which are on the right.
Q. Then, where do you put the loaf, in case the company should require more bread?
A. On the sideboard, ma'am.
Q. Where do you place the water-decanters, or carafes?
A. One at each corner of the table, if there are four; if only two, one at each of the two remote corners, or one in the middle at each side of the table.
Q. And suppose water-bottles are not used?
A. Then I fill a jug with spring water, and get it, on a waiter, on the table; or else on the sideboard, ready to pour into the tumblers as the company may require.
Q. How do you take up the dinner?
A. On a tray, if the dishes are not too numerous; if they are, I take them up separately.
Q. And the hot plates, which of course you have in a plate-warmer before the fire?
A. I place some of them at the top of the table, before my mistress, or the lady who serves, and the others at the bottom, before the gentleman facing her.
Q. How do you know which is the top of the table?
A. It is the end farthest from the door of entrance.
Q. When there are only fish, or soup, and a joint of meat, how do you place them?
A. The fish or soup at the top of the table, the meat at the bottom; the vegetables, if only one dish, in the middle; if two dishes, one of them on each side, or else near to each other, in the middle; and the sauce-tureens in convenient situations.
Q. When there are both fish and soup, and a joint of meat?
A. Then I place the fish at the top, the soup at the bottom, the meat in the middle, and the vegetable dish or dishes so as best to correspond with the other dishes on table.
Q. What next?
A. I wait quietly till my master or mistress has said grace, and then I remove the covers, and place them on a tray, to be ready for carrying down-stairs.
Q. Of course you have fresh hot plates, with fresh knives and forks, to change after the fish?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. If there are puddings or tarts?
A. Then I put small plates (hot or cold, as may be required), knives and forks, and dessert-spoons, for all the company.
Q. Cheese and butter?
A. Small plates, and knives and forks, also for them.
Q. When you hand a plate, or glass of ale or water on a small waiter, or bread, or anything else, to a lady or gentleman at the table, how do you do it?
A. I take it to the left hand of the person for whom it is required.
Q. Dinner being over, and the meat and vegetable dishes having been removed, when done with, how do you proceed to clear the table?
A. I bring a knife-tray and a waiter, and collect all the knives, forks, and spoons that have been used. Into the tray, in the bottom of which I have laid a clean knife-cloth, to prevent it from being greased, and also to prevent making a noise, I put the knives, forks, and spoons; and I carefully put the glasses, casters, salt-cellars, and whatever else there may be, on the waiter. Then, without crowding one thing upon another, so as to risk breakage, or huddling clean things and dirty ones together, I carry away upon the dinner-tray as much as I can at one time, returning for the remainder.
Q. What do you do before taking off the table-cloth?
A. Having previously, with a clean fork, removed such pieces of bread as may have been left, I brush off the remaining crumbs with a table-brush or a napkin.
Q. What next?
A. Then I turn over the edges of the cloth, roll it up lightly, carry it away, shake it well, fold it, and place it in the napkin-press.
Q. Well, the table having been cleared, what more have you to do?
A. If the family take wine after dinner, I place two wine-glasses before each person, one of them usually rather large than the other, and the wine decanters before my master, at the bottom of the table.
Q. But if mixed liquors be taken instead of wine?
A. Then, upon a tray, or a sufficiently large waiter, I place before my master the spirit-stand, a jug of boiling-hot water and another of cold, with beaker-glasses, tea-spoons, and the sugar-basket, or basin. Also if required, a lemon or two.
Q. When you have taken your own dinner, what do you do?
A. I put on a coarse apron, and remove the meat, and whatever else may have been left, into clean dishes, and set them in the pantry, which should always be kept cool. Then I drain the remains of the gravy out of the meat-dishes into a basin or sauce-tureen.
Q. What is that for?
A. It will be very useful to put into a hash or stew, or any other purpose in which a little gravy may be required.
A. I wipe the knives and forks quite clean, and wash the spoons in hot water. Then I wash the dish-covers with hot water, taking care to wipe them, both inside and out, and round the edges, with a dry cloth; polishing them a little whilst they are yet warm, and hanging them up to keep them dry and prevent their being tarnished by steam.
Q. What next?
A. Having put my plates and dishes into a dish-tub of warm water, as I brought them from the dinner-table - a method which saves time, by preventing the gravy, mustard, and the like, from getting dry upon them - I proceed to wash them. By the side of the dish-tub, in the sink, and standing under the tap, I have a large earthenware pan, full of cold water. Before I begin the washing I pour some boiling water into the dish-tub containing the plates and dishes, to make the water sufficiently hot for the purpose.
A. Then I wash them all thoroughly clean, one by one, on both sides, with a cloth, which should be of coarse cotton or hemp, and rinse them in the pan of cold water, which, by having the tap a little on, I keep constantly quite full and rather overflowing. Thus the grease, which always rises to the top, will run over into the sink, and be carried away through the drain; otherwise it would float on the top of the water, and grease or smear everything put into it.
Q. What next?
A. As I rinse the plates and dishes one by one, I place them in the rack to drain.
Q. And are they thus ready for the next day's dinner?
A. Before warming them for dinner, I wipe and rub them well with a clean dry cloth.
Q. Well, having disposed of your plates and dishes, and other dinner things, what do you do next?
A. I must first clean the sink.
Q. As that requires much particularity, what is your method?
A. I gather into one corner of the sink all the scraps of meat, vegetables, or other refuse. This, in the country, may be thrown into the hog-tub, with the plate washings; but as it is quite useless in a town, the best way to get rid of it without offence, is to throw it at the back of the kitchen fire.
Q. Why not throw it into the dust-bin?
A. Because, there, it would cause an offensive, unwholesome odour; and it might attract rats, mice, or other vermin. The same pernicious consequences would ensue were it to be forced through the sink-holes; besides which, the water-courses would be stopped up and destroyed.
Q. Well, the refuse having been removed, how do you finish cleaning the sink?
A. If of stone, it is best cleaned by scrubbing it with an old hard brush, and a little soda, afterwards sluicing it with an abundance of water.
Q. If the sink be of lead, how do you clean it?
A. I get a pennyworth of pearlash, a pennyworth of soft-soap, and a pennyworth of dried fuller's-earth; and I mix them together, with a quart of hot water, in any old pan or basin. I put about a tablespoonful of this mixture on a bit of flannel, with which I rub the sink, and then wipe and rinse it well with cold water.
Q. Is there not some inexpensive mode of preventing bad smells, which are always more or less injurious to health, and are frequently the cause of fatal contagious diseases?
A. Yes, ma'am; there is what is called
which costs very little, and is said to be completely effective.
Q. What is it like?
A. It is made of cast-iron, may be had of any ironmonger, and does not cost more than one of the common five-hole drain-stones, which admit all sorts of offensive smells into a house. One of these traps should be fixed in every sink-hole, or drain; and the expense, for the plumber, is only a few shillings.
Q. Well, what more have you to do before you prepare for Tea?
A. I must sweep the kitchen, and, if necessary, scour the floor, the table, and the dresser; reduce the size of the fire by drawing the cheeks of the range closer; see that the boiler is full of water, as, if emptied, being of cast-iron, it may burst, and cannot be mended; make the hearth, grate, and all the fire-place clean; throw the cinders up; and put the kettle on, that it may be ready for tea.
Q. I suppose you mean to change your gown and cap, and make yourself in all respects neat and clean before you appear in the Parlour or Drawingroom.
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. You recollect how to manage the Urn, should I require it for tea?
Q. Well, how do you take up tea for the family, when there is no company?
A. I place the teapot nearly in the centre of the tray, in front of the lady who makes the tea; the sugar-basin, milk-jug, and slop-basin behind the teapot; and, around the tray, a cup and saucer and teaspoon for each person.
Q. And what do you place on the table?
A. A small plate for each person; the toast, if any, under a cover; cake, if usually taken; and a small cottage-loaf, with the butter-dish, and a knife; or, if preferred, a plate of nicely-cut thin bread-and-butter.
Q. I know you can make toast; but do you know how to cut bread-and-butter?
A. Yes, ma'am. Unless the loaf be very small, I cut it in half rounds. I spread the butter with one clean knife, and then I cut off the slice with another clean knife, to prevent the smearing of the butter, and so on till I have cut a sufficient quantity; laying every slice even on the plate, and each a little below the one above.
Q. Have you anything to do whilst the family are taking tea?
A. I go up into the bed-rooms, turn down the beds, replenish the water-jugs and bottles, if necessary, and see that everything is in proper order.
Q. Well, having removed the tea-things from the parlour or drawingroom, do you know how to wash them?
A. Yes, ma'am. I believe the best way is to have two good-sized basins, or earthen pans, each full of hot water - that is, of such a degree of heat that I can bear my hands in it without inconvenience. In the first of these basins, or pans, I rinse each article singly, and then pass it through the water in the other; after which, I wipe it carefully and lightly with a clean soft tea-cloth kept for the purpose.
Q, Why do you require two basins of hot water?
A. It saves time, ma'am, and enables me to get the china cleaner and clearer. The first water removes the tea or coffee grounds, and most of the particles of grease, sugar, or milk, that may have adhered to the cups or saucers; the second carries off all remains of impurity, and thus leaves the tea-cloth clean, and prevents it from smearing the china in wiping.
Q. And how do you manage the tea or coffee-pot?
A. After washing, I wipe it dry, both inside and out.
Q. And the milk or cream jugs?
A. I scald them, letting the hot water remain in them for a few minutes; and then I wash, and wipe them very dry.
Q. And your tea-tray?
A. I wash that with the cleanest water, wipe it dry with a clean tea-cloth, and occasionally clear it with a piece of soft wash-leather.
Q. How do you keep your tea-cloths and the like?
A. I hang them on a towel-horse, or on a line, to dry, and then put them away till the next time they are wanted.
Q. How do you generally keep your small mugs and jugs?
A. I never allow beer, milk or any other liquid to remain in them; and, having washed and dried them, I hang them upon hooks along the edges of the dresser-shelves, to prevent them from getting broken.
Remember - that glass vessels, of whatsoever description, must never be put into boiling or very hot water, or they will crack; and that, in frosty weather, it is dangerous to put china, or even earthenware, into very hot water.
Remember, also - that all glass must be kept quite clear and bright - that the warmth or moisture of a finger will leave a soil - and that, therefore, clean glass must be handled very carefully.
Q. How do you wash glasses?
A. First in lukewarm water, then I rinse them once or twice in clean cold water; and afterwards I wipe them quite dry with a very soft linen - not cotton - cloth, and clear them with a skin of perfectly dry wash leather.
Q. Is that sufficient, supposing the glass to be very dirty?
A. It is generally sufficient for wine or other drinking glasses: but for anything that is dirty, there should be a little bit of soda in the first water.
Q. How do you manage wine-decanters?
A. They require soda, or pearlash, in the water - especially red-wine decanters, and into them it is necessary also to put some coarse brown paper, cut into very small bits - or some parings of raw potatoes - or a wineglassful of small shot.
Q. What then?
A. I shake the decanter well, and allow it to stand a while; after which, I take a slip of whalebone, or of cane, with a small bit of sponge tied on at the end, put it into the decanter, and work it well though the neck, and about the sides, to rub off the stains. Then I rinse it thoroughly two or three times with cold water, and place it in a rack, or, mouth downwards, in a jug, that it may perfectly dry.
Q. What next?
A. When drained, so that not a drop of moisture remains, as that might occasion mildew, give the decanter musty smell, and muddle the wine when put into it, I wipe the outside, breathing on it now and then if it have any spots, and clean it with wash-leather.
Q. What do you do when you put decanters away?
A. To prevent the stoppers from sticking, I wrap a piece of thin white paper round each of them.
Q. Suppose, from want of proper attention, or any other circumstance, a stopper should stick, how would you loosen it?
A. It may generally be effected by putting a drop or two of sweet oil round the part where it enters - by tapping the stopper lightly, first on one side and then on the other, with a bit of wood - or by placing the neck of the decanter in warm water.
Q. How do you clean the glasses of the cruet-stand?
A. I wipe them every day, replenish them when necessary, and about once a month I thoroughly wash and clean them in the same way as the decanters.
Q. And the mustard-pot?
A. That I wash and clean every time I make fresh mustard, which should be every two or three days at the farthest.
Q. Well, having disposed of your tea-things and glasses, have you anything more to do before you prepare the supper-tray?
A. No, ma'am; but if there be an hour or two to spare, I should be glad of the opportunity, if you please, to do a little needlework for myself, in mending and keeping my clothes in order.
Q. We shall have a few friends to tea to-morrow evening, in a plain way; can you wait upon them handily?
A. Yes, ma'am, I think I can; and I shall be very glad to try.
Q. You will be particular in making yourself neat and respectable in your dress?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Well, you know how to manage the urn, and to place the teapot; and to make the coffee, and to cut the bread-and-butter, and to prepare the toast, muffins, or whatever there may be?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Well, how do you commence?
A. If there are not more than three or four persons, ma'am, one large waiter will be sufficient to hold the cups of tea and coffee, placed alternately - the sugar and cream - and the bread-and-butter and toast.
Q. How do you carry your tray or waiter round to the company?
A. I hold it sufficiently low and near for the ladies and gentlemen to reach it easily.
Q. And how will you know whom to serve first?
A. Unless you tell me particularly, ma'am, I shall serve the older ladies before the younger ones - all the ladies before any of the gentlemen - and the elder gentlemen before the younger ones.
Q. And you will watch when the cups are empty, that you may receive them on the waiter, and hand them back to me?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Should the company be more numerous than you seem to expect, what would you do?
A. Then I must have two waiters, ma'am: one for the tea, coffee, sugar, and cream; the other, for the bread and butter, toast, cakes, or whatever there may be.
Q. And which do you hand first?
A. The tea and coffee, ma'am; and I must have a cup of each to offer to every person, and I must not hand the bread-and-butter and toast tray to any one who may not be supplied with tea and coffee.
Q. When there no one to supper but the family, how do you arrange the tray?
A. That must depend, ma'am, on what you usually have for supper. In a general way, if I have a tray that opens with hinges, I would lay a cloth over it, and place the things required as I would upon a table. For instance, a dish of cold meat, with perhaps a salad, a tart, bread, cheese, and butter; a carving knife and fork with the meat; and a small plate, knife, and fork, to each person; the cruet-stand and salt, and two or three dessert-spoons.
A. Then I would turn over the ends and sides of the cloth smoothly, on the provisions, fasten up the sides of the tray, and carry it up-stairs. When on the table, I would put down the sides of the tray, uncover the provisions, and allow the cloth to spread.
Q. What more?
A. On a waiter, or small tray, I would place the malt-liquor, if the family take any - a jug or decanter of cold spring water - and the requisite number of tumblers.
Q. Anything further?
A. When the family have supped, and I have taken away the tray and the waiter, I replace the former with anther waiter, containing the liquor-stand, a jug of hot and another of cold water; the sugar-basin, beaker-glasses, and teaspoons.
Q. There will be two or three friends to partake of a plain cold supper this evening; how will you arrange it?
A. Having garnished the meat or poultry with sprigs of parsley, I lay the cloth nearly the same as for dinner. But I put a plate for each person, with a piece of bread on the left hand, and a tumbler and wine-glass on the right; and at each of the two remote corners of the table, I put a small plate, with a slice of butter about an inch in thickness.
Q. Well, the supper-table having been cleared, what follows?
A. I bring in a waiter, the same as when the family are alone, with the liquor-stand, hot and cold water, sugar, beaker-glasses, and teaspoons; with the addition of the wine decanters and glasses, and a lemon or two.
To avoid the heavy expense of silver, and the risk of loss, many respectable families use what is termed German Silver, Nickel, British Plate, Albata, &c. This is hard, exceedingly durable, and, when properly kept and cleaned - especially plain articles, such as table-spoons, sauce-ladles, forks, waiters, and the like - it is with difficulty that it can be distinguished on the table from genuine silver. The method of cleaning it is, in all respects, the same as that of the true metal.
Q. How do you clean silver or plated articles?
A. I first wash them with warm water and soap - adding to the water, if they are very greasy or dirty, a little soda and wipe them dry with a clean soft cloth. Then I moisten some fine whiting, perfectly free from sand or grit, with a little water, and rub the mixture over the plate with a piece of soft rag. If the articles are plain, I continue rubbing till they are quite dry, and polish with wash-leather. If they have chased or other ornamental work, I let the mixture remain on till it is dry, then brush it off with a plate-brush, and use the wash-leather as before. A brush must, always be used to get the whiting from between the prongs of forks, and then they must be carefully wiped.
Q. Are there not plate-powders to be had for the cleaning of silver?
A. Yes, ma'am; but many of them are said to be prepared with quicksilver, and are very injurious to plate, By rendering it brittle, and liable to break. Nothing is more simple, safe, or cheap, than the whiting and water I have mentioned, and it renders the plate perfectly clean and bright.
Q. Do not some persons use rotten-stone and sweet oil for the purpose?
A. Yes, ma'am; and that mixture also is very good; but great care must be taken to sift the powdered rotten-stone through a piece of very fine muslin before it is mixed with the oil.
Q. How do you clean your Kitchen and Chamber Candlesticks?
A. A large old tea-tray is very useful in this business, to prevent soiling of the table with grease; but if there is not such a thing, a piece of stout brown paper or paste-board must serve.
A. Having a piece of soft firewood, cut to an edge, like a knife, I use it for iron, tin, or japanned candlesticks, to scrape off the rough grease. The remainder of the grease I melt off by the application of boiling water; then I wipe them clean with cloths kept for the purpose; and the tin candlesticks I polish with a leather and some dry whiting.
Q. How do you clean Silver, Plated, or German Silver Candlesticks?
A. I first remove the short pieces of candle that may have been left, to burn in the chamber-candlesticks, or in the kitchen upon savealls; and then, should there be any grease in the sockets, I remove it with the piece of wood use for the common candlesticks. Having washed them with hot water and soap, and wiped them clean and dry, I polish them with whiting and wash-leather, the same as other silver or plated articles.
The cleaning of the various sorts of patent and other table-lamps is a very nice operation, and requires a great deal of care. The reservoir must be emptied every morning, or the oil may overflow and spoil whatever it comes in contact with - the wicks must be trimmed with great exactness, using sharp scissors - the little air-holes must be kept open - and the entire lamp must be kept perfectly clean, or it will smoke, and smell offensively.
Until within a few years, nothing but pure sperm oil, which is very expensive, could be burned in these lamps; but by some new principles recently adopted in the construction of the burners, many of them will now consume an inferior oil, which costs only about half the price of sperm, and gives an equally brilliant light, without smoke or smell.
All of them, however, require to be partially taken to pieces, and thoroughly cleaned, once every five or six weeks. Some families send them to the lamp-maker's for this purpose; but that is expensive, and not unfrequently is attended with delay and inconvenience. The operation may be performed equally well at home, and at less than one-fourth of the lamp-maker's charge.
There is no difficulty in taking a lamp to pieces, or in putting it together again. In some instances, the application of moderately warm water and soap is sufficient for cleansing the interior as well as the exterior portions of the lamp; but in the majority of cases, a powerful alkali is required for cleansing the interior. After that, all the parts must be well rinsed with cold water, wiped clean, and placed near the fire to get thoroughly dry; as the slightest remaining moisture will prevent the lamp from burning properly. The danger in the use of soda, or of pearlash, is in allowing it to come in contact with the lacquered parts of the lamp, as the touch of a strong alkali, such as either of those mentioned, will destroy the lacquer upon brass. But this evil may be avoided by the use of Upton's Paris Lamp-Detergent which is to be had at the Italian warehouses or oil-shops, with the requisite instructions. One bottle of the preparation, which costs 1s. 4d, is sufficient for the cleaning of four full-sized lamps. Diluted with water, it is applied cold, with scarcely any trouble, and almost without soiling the fingers.
Q. Can you trim a table-lamp, take it to pieces, clean it properly, and put it together again?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q, How do you proceed?
A. For cleaning it, I first remove the shade and the chimney, and put them aside; next, I remove the head-trim, or that part of the lamp which contains the oil, and drain off its contents; then I also drain the reservoir; then I remove the wick, and separate the different parts of the burner; and, lastly, I wash the whole with moderately warm water and soap.
Q. But should it be necessary to use a hot solution of soda or pearlash, to clean the inside?
A. Then I must be very careful not to let it touch the lacquer on the pedestal, or on any of the ornamental parts of the lamp.
Q. How long should the hot soap and water, or soda, remain in the lamp to get it thoroughly clean?
A. If not very dirty, six or eight hours will be sufficient; otherwise it will require from twelve to four-and-twenty.
Q. And, having drained off the soap and water, or alkaline liquor, what do you do?
A. I rinse all the inside parts of the lamp - all that come at all into contact with the oil - thoroughly with cold water; then wipe them; and afterwards place them near the fire, that they may get completely dry.
Q. Have you ever used Upton's Lamp-Detergent?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. What is the difference between using that and the other things that have been mentioned?
A. It takes less time, gives far less trouble, and makes the lamps more thoroughly sweet and clean.
Q, How do you apply it?
A. Having prepared the lamp precisely in the same manner as before, I take one-fourth of the contents of the bottle, mix it with an equal quantity of cold water, pour it into the lamp, let it stand the requisite time, then drain it off, rinse all the parts of the lamp thoroughly with cold water, and proceed in every respect as before.
Q. How do you clean the shade, and the chimney?
A. I wipe the shade every morning with a dry cloth, and, whenever necessary, wash it with a little lukewarm water and soap. The chimney I also wipe every morning - wash it occasionally with water and soap, or soda, by means of a little sponge on the end of a stick - and polish it with whiting and a soft cloth.
Q. Having put the lamp together again, after you have got it quite dry, do you know how to place the wick in the burner, cut it accurately, and supply the lamp with oil?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Do you know how to clean Britannia-metal articles, such as tea-pots and candlesticks?
A. Yes, ma'am. Having cleared the article from dirt and grease, I first rub it over with a piece of woollen cloth, moistened with sweet oil. Then I apply a little finely-sifted rotten-stone, or polishing paste, with the finger, till the requisite polish is produced; after which I wash the candlestick, or whatever it may be, with hot water and soap; and, lastly, when it is dry, I rub it briskly with soft wash-leather and a little fine whiting.
Q. What is the
A. It is a composition of oil or spirits of turpentine, soft-soap, and rotten-stone; and it is very useful also for cleaning of tins - such as dish-covers - coppers, and brasses.
Q. Do you know how it is prepared?
A. Yes, ma'am. If I were to make it, I should powder some rotten-stone, sift it through a piece of muslin, or a muslin sieve, and then mix with it as much soft-soap as would bring it to the consistency of glazier's putty.
A. To about half a pound of this mixture I should add two ounces of oil or spirits of turpentine; form the whole into a mass, and either put it in gallipots, or make it up into balls. It soon hardens, and will keep for any length of time.
Q. What is the usual method of using it?
A. After the article, whatever it may be, has been freed from dirt, I moisten a little of the paste with water, and smear it over the metal, which I then rub briskly with a piece of soft wash-leather, or dry rag, which will soon give it the required polish.
Q. Do you know
A. Yes, ma'am. I scour it with the finest white sand, and a strong ley made with pearlash, soda, or wood-ashes; after which I rinse it in clean water, and set it to drain and dry.
Q. Is there any other method?
A. The London publicans, I am told, mix some oil of tartar with fine sand, and thus make an excellent scouring mixture for their pewter vessels.
At page 6 of The Young Cook-maid's Catechism - the first of The Finchley Manuals of Industry - to which the Maid-of-all-work is here referred - ample instructions are given for the cleaning of knives and forks. In some families, however, who are very particular respecting their best knives and forks, what is called a leathered knife-board is provided. This, which may be bought at shops where brooms, brushes, and turnery-ware are sold, is a ward about three or four feet long, covered, on the upper side, with thick buff leather, carefully glued on,and nailed down at the ends. On the leather, rubbed over with a little warm melted mutton fat, some of the finest emery powder is evenly sprinkled, and well rubbed in, till the surface is perfectly smooth. Taking care that the leather be not too greasy, this will be found to wear the knives less, and to give them a finer polish than the Bath brick. For cleaning the forks, a strap of buff leather, about two inches in width and a yard in length, prepared in the same manner, doubled, and the two ends nailed together, on the stand where the knife-board lies, may be used with advantage.
For the choice and care of saucepans, dish-covers, and other articles of tin ware, that require to be kept bright, the young servant, or her mistress, is here particularly referred to page 6 of The Young Cook-maid's Catechism. The use of copper or brass saucepans, stewpans, &c., should be discountenanced as much as possible, especially by families in which only one or two servants are kept, as the least oversight, inattention, or neglect of perfect cleanliness, may endanger life. The verdigris, or rust, which rapidly forms on copper or brass, when it happens to come in contact with either acid or salt, is a deadly poison. The lining of copper vessels is very apt to wear off unobserved, and the consequences may prove fatal. And it has been properly observed, that “the hands of a servant who has either brass or copper utensils to clean, can never be fit to touch food.” The objection does not seem to apply to such articles as coal-scuttles, bright kettles for parlour use, &c. It was formerly the practice to clean copper and brass vessels with vitriol, - a very bad practice, as it was not only dangerous, but the articles became tarnished almost immediately. It is now usual to polish such things - coal-scuttles and tea-kettles, for instance - with leather and rotten-stone; or, if much tarnished, with rotten-stone moistened with sweet oil; polishing them afterwards, with either fine day whiting or dry rotten-stone.
Q. How do you keep your hair-brooms and brushes in order?
A. About once in a month or six weeks - or oftener if requisite - I wash and rinse them well, and then hang them up to dry, with the hair downwards - each of them having a string to the handle.
Q. How do you clean gentlemen's boots and shoes?
A. I first scrape off the dirt with a piece of wood shaped something like a knife (but a real knife must never be used for the purpose), and then - the boot of shoe being perfectly dry - I thoroughly brush off the rest of the dirt, as well between the upper leather and the sole as from every other part. Then, with a piece of stick with a little bit of sponge, or of rag, at the end, I put a very small quantity of blacking on the blacking-brush,and rub it over a part of the shoe or boot.
Q. Why do you not rub it over the whole at once?
A. Because the blacking would then get too dry to receive a proper polish.
A. As soon as I have applied the blacking to the first part of the shoe or boot, and while it is yet damp, I take the polishing-brush, and rub it briskly, but lightly, till brilliant gloss is produced. Then I proceed in the same manner with the other part, till the whole is done.
Q. When you have finished your boots and shoes, what do you do with them?
A. I hang them on the boot-horse, in the bed-room, or set them against the door, as I may be told.
Q. I hope you take care never to set wet or damp boots or shoes very near the fire, for them to get dry, because that shrinks, cracks, and spoils them?
A. Yes, ma'am; I always keep them at a distance.
Q. And how do you clean ladies' boots and shoes, and gentlemen's dress-boots and shoes, which are now generally made of the patent prepared polished leather?
A. Mostly they require very little cleaning - the chief care is not to scratch the polish.
Q. But what is your method?
A. Should they be very dirty, I carefully wipe the edges of the soles, and also the upper leather, with a wettish piece of cloth - afterwards with a dry piece - and then I rub a few drops of pure sweet oil over the polished leather. But, generally, the wiping of them with a bit of cloth slightly damped is sufficient, adding a few drops of oil.
Q. But should the polish happen to go off, either by wet or any other accident?
A. Then it may be renewed by preparations for the purpose, sold by boot and shoemakers.
Excepting in families where men-servants are kept, gentlemen frequently brush their clothes, especially coats, themselves; but if their top-coats, or trowsers, get splashed, the task generally devolves on the maid.
Q. What is your method of brushing gentlemen's clothes?
A. The first thing I do is to rub off the splashes, if there are any, upon either the coats or trowsers; the latter generally requiring the most attention, particularly at the lower parts, in dirty weather.
A. Having looked to and removed the splashes, if any, from a coat, I lay it upon a clean table, to brush. I first brush the outsides, and the sleeves, always brushing with the nap; then, to brush the insides, I double the outsides together lengthwise; after which, I hang or lay it in the wardrobe or drawers, or wherever I am told.
Q. And the trowsers?
A. From the lower parts of them, I carefully rub and brush off the splashes; after which, I brush the fronts; then I double them together lengthwise, as I did the coat, brush the other parts, and put them away.
Q. How often should bedsteads be taken down and cleaned?
A. Twice a year: in March or April, and in October or November.
Q. Why do you name those months in particular?
A. Because it is usual in the spring to take down the winter bed-furniture and window-curtains, and put up those that are kept for summer; and in the autumn, to take down the summer furniture, and put up that which is kept for winter.
Q. Well, previously to taking down the bedsteads, for which you must have a man to assist, what do you do?
A. I take down all the furniture, shake, dust, brush, scrub and thoroughly clean it, and put it away.
Q. In what manner do you do that?
A. If the furniture be white dimity, or any other washing material the colours of which will not suffer from water, having shaken and dusted it well, I immediately put it into cold water, rinse it occasionally in fresh water, and let it remain a day or two. Then I wash it out, rough dry it, and put it away, to be properly washed in the spring, a short time before it will be wanted again for putting up.
Q. Why do you not wash it properly at once, and lay it by ready for putting up when wanted?
A. Because, ma'am, if white curtains are washed in autumn, and laid away, they will get discoloured - especially in towns - before they are wanted.
Q. But suppose the furniture is of chintz, or any other printed material, that ought to be very seldom, if at all, washed, how do you proceed?
A. Having shaken and dusted it as before, I brush it lightly with a clothes-brush, especially in the folds or gathers; next, I wipe it with clean flannels, examine the folds, gathers, and plaits very carefully, to see that there are no vermin or nits; rub all those parts - and indeed all over the furniture - with the flannel and dry silver-sand or bread-crumbs; shake and brush it again, and put it away in a wrapper.
Q. And if the furniture is moreen?
A. I follow the same course, cleaning it all over thoroughly with flannel, or a coarse cloth, and silver-sand. After this, I brush it well with a clothes-brush, rub it again with a clean napkin or cloth, then fold, wrap it up, and put it away.
Q. Having thus disposed of the furniture, what do you do next?
A. I dust, beat, carefully brush, and wipe the mattresses and paillasses, especially under the binding and in the corners, where they come in contact with the bedstead.
Q. Well, and what do you do respecting the bedsteads?
A. When taken down, I carefully examine, wash, and scrub every joint and crevice, especially about the head-board and tester, in cold water, and then wipe the whole dry and clean.
Q. What do you do to destroy, or prevent the breeding of vermin?
A. There is nothing so efficacious, ma'am, as the washing and scrubbing twice a year; and, were it not that bugs harbour and breed in the ceiling, wainscot, and walls, particularly of old houses, nothing more would ever be requisite. For the killing of bugs, however, nothing is more certain than to wet any part in which they may be found with a solution of green copperas in warm water. But, in using this preparation, great care must be taken that not a drop be spilt, as it never fails to cause iron-mould.
If the family washing be done at home, the duty will either fall upon the maid, or she will have to assist the washerwoman who may be engaged for the purpose. In some families, everything is washed at home; in others, only the coarse things, such as sheets, towels, &c., are washed at home, and the rest are sent out to the laundress; and in others, again, everything is sent to the laundress.
In either of these cases, the maid will probably have to collect and sort all the dirty clothes, and to make out a list, or lists, of the different articles for the wash, and to see that everything is right, in state and number, when the washing and ironing are over. In some families, the mistress, or one of her daughters, likes to make out the list, or lists, as the maid calls the things over.
Q. What are the preparations you have to make for the wash?
A. I must first collect all the sheets, towels, pillow-cases, and toilet-cloths, from the bags in the bed-rooms; all the gowns, petticoats, chemises, handkerchiefs, caps, shirts, collars, cravats, waistcoats, light trowsers, and stockings, all the table-cloths, dinner-napkins, coarse cloths and towels from the kitchen, and throw them on the floor of the room used for the purpose.
Q. What next?
A. Then I sort them into heaps, such as bed-room towels in one heap, coarse towels in another, sheets, shirts, gowns, waistcoats, each in a separate heap. The stockings I draw one into the other, to keep them in pairs.
Q. And what then?
A. I examine each article separately, to ascertain what may require mending.
A. The most economical way is to have such things as may require mending, excepting stockings, mended before they are washed, that they may not receive further injury in the washing; but some ladies prefer having them tied up by themselves, washed, rough-dried, mended afterwards, and then finished by folding and ironing, or mangling.
Q. But if sent to the laundress, how should this be arranged?
A. They should be sent to the laundress separately, with instructions for her to wash and rough-dry them, send them home to be mended, and then to receive them again to be finished.
Q. Well, having sorted all the things properly, what do you do next?
A. I make out a list of them, naming the articles and the number of them in each: as, 3 table-cloths, 5 napkins, 2 gowns, 7 shirts, and so on. And if the things are to be sent to the laundress, I make a copy of the list, and give it to her; and then, when she brings them home, I can ascertain, by my own list, even should she have lost hers, whether the return is right.
Q. Is there not a better method of managing this?
A. Yes, ma'am; if you please to buy one of the Improved Family Washing Books, which are sold by most stationers, some trouble may be saved, mistakes will be less likely to occur, and the book may always be kept for reference.
Q, What is the plan?
A. Each page of these books has two printed lists of all such washing articles as are used and worn in families; and between the two lists is a scroll or cheque. Having written down the number of every article you send to the laundress, against its name in the lists, you have only to cut off one list, through the cheque, and give it to the laundress, letting the other list remain in the book. Then, when the linen is brought home, and the different articles are called over by the list, it is seen in an instant whether anything be missing.
Q. Well, should there be anything missing, what do you do?
A. I make a mark in the list of the article missing, and either apprise you, ma'am, or desire the laundress to bring it home.
Q. What do you do after all the linen has been properly got up, or sent home from the laundress's?
A. I take care that everything is properly aired; and then I place all the different articles in the bed-rooms of the parties to whom they belong.
The intelligent young woman who may have attentively and industriously gone through two or three years' practical training in the performance of household duties, in the capacity of Maid-of-all-work, as indicated in the preceding pages, will find herself, at the expiration of that period, qualified for an advanced position in life, and a consequent increase of wages. More than this, she will have acquired the respect and esteem of her superiors, from a character for industry, domestic usefulness, integrity, and general trustworthiness. Let her pray, nightly and daily, that, through the blessing of Heaven, she may never forfeit a character of such priceless worth.
If disposed to enter into the service of a larger or somewhat higher family than the one to which she has been hitherto accustomed, and in which two or more servants are kept, she may now safely venture to undertake the duties of a House-maid. But, to commence with, the situation would be preferable in a small rather than a large family. The duties and responsibilities would be less heavy, and the opportunities of acquiring knowledge and experience would be much greater. She would be more likely also to attain proficiency in the art of waiting at table, and generally as parlour and drawingroom maid - a very important consideration in families where men-servants are not kept.
Let it be regarded as an axiom never to be lost sight of, that, in an advanced position, our duties are of a higher order, and our responsibilities are increased.
In her new situation, the young House-maid is called upon to exhibit every good quality, and to exercise every virtue, in a higher degree than when she was only the Maid-of-all-work. The same scrupulous attention to cleanliness of person, and neatness and propriety of dress, to quietness and gentleness of demeanour, sweetness of disposition, and willingness to oblige, and, above all things, to truth, on every possible occasion, will be exacted from the aspiring House-maid as from the humble Maid-of-all-work.
In families where two female servants are kept, a Cook and a House-maid, the cook is the chief; but each has her respective duties assigned; and thus, by a judicious division of labour, the house-maid is relieved from much of the unpleasant and dirty work which she had to perform when maid-of-all-work. The Cook not only prepares the food for the family, but assists in carrying it to the door of the dining-room; besides which, she lights the kitchen-fires, cleans the kitchen-candlesticks and knives and forks, has everything belonging to the kitchen under her care; cleans the kitchen, the passages and door-ways, and her own bed-room; assists the house-maid in some of her morning duties; and if the linen be washed at home, it is her duty to assist in that also. On the other hand, the House-maid does the household work, keeps the rooms and furniture clean and in order, arranges everything for the respective meals and waits upon the family in all things. Where there are children, and only two servants are kept, the house-maid generally assists her mistress in attending to them; but, in that case, it is the duty of the cook to take share in the household work.
Q. What do you consider to be your general morning duties as House-maid?
A. To unfasten the doors, and open the window-shutters, of such rooms as are in use, to light the parlour-fire, to dust and clean the furniture, and to prepare the breakfast for the family; to clean the ladies' shoes and clogs, and the children's boots and shoes, where there is no nursery-maid, and to prepare the children's breakfast.
Q. What next?
A. Then I sweep down the stairs, get my own breakfast with the cook, remove the children's breakfast-things; and next, whilst the family are at breakfast, I go into all the bed-rooms, open the windows, turn down the bed-clothes, and remove the slops.
A. The family having breakfasted, I clear the table, and put the room to rights; then I wash the breakfast-things, and the glasses that were left at night; and by, that time the cook will probably be at leisure to assist me in making the beds and putting the bed-rooms in order.
Q. Suppose the ladies retire to the drawingroom as soon as they have breakfasted, and remain there during the morning?
A. Then, ma'am, I must put the drawingroom in order before I finish the bed-rooms; otherwise I do the bed-rooms first.
Q. What are your other duties?
A. All the morning sweeping, dusting, and cleaning having been done, I prepare the luncheon in the dining-room at any hour you please. And if the children dine at luncheon-time, I arrange accordingly.
A. Having removed the luncheon-tray, we have the kitchen dinner, if convenient; by which means the cook and I are at leisure to attend to everything relating to the dinner.
Q. Well, taking care to be neatly dressed by the time the dinner-cloth is to be laid, you spread the table, and have to wait at table during the dinner?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. And then?
A. The cook having assisted me in removing the dinner-things, and carrying them down-stairs, I lay the dessert.
Q. What next?
A. The dessert over, I take charge of the silver forks, spoons, dessert-plates, and glasses; wash, wipe, and put them away; and then, should there be any spare time before getting the tea ready I would sit down for an hour or two to needlework, either for the family or myself.
Q. Well, you get the tea ready, and wait on the persons present?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. And then?
A. I go up-stairs, turn down the beds, draw the curtains, close the windows, and put everything in order in the bed-rooms.
Q. What next?
A. I get my tea; and then, if I have any time to spare, I employ it in repairing my clothes, and keeping them in a proper state.
Q. What more have you to do?
A. Only to prepare and take up the supper-tray, and remove it when done with; and before I go to bed, to see that all the lights and files are extinguished, also, that whatever plate I may have in charge is right.
Q. At washing-time, what have you to do?
A. To look out and sort the clothes for the wash, to make out lists of the respective articles, to deliver them to the laundress (if the washing be sent out), to receive them from her when returned, and to see that everything is right, according to the list delivered.
Q. What do you do with the linen after it has been returned by the laundress?
A. I take care that it has been properly aired, and then I place it in the bed-rooms of the respective parties to whom it belongs.
Q. Suppose I have the washing done at home, hiring a woman for the occasion?
A. Then, ma'am, I, as well as the cook, must assist, if necessary.
Q. If you are called upon to take charge of the linen - the children's linen - the table and bed-linen - and that of the family generally - what is your duty?
A. To look it out, and see that it is properly aired, when wanted - to examine it, and see what repairs may be necessary - and to put aside such articles as may require mending.
Q. Well, we shall have occasion to go more particularly into some of these points hereafter?
A. If you please, ma'am.
If there are young children in the family, the House-maid will probably have to take up their breakfast, and that of the nurse-maid, into the nursery. If so, as it is desirable that children should breakfast early, she must so make her arrangements that they may be supplied before she prepares breakfast in the parlour. Should there be a room suitable for the purpose, perhaps the children may come down to breakfast; in which case, in some families, the mistress (or one of the daughters, if she have one of sufficient age) may like to superintend their breakfast before she takes her own. The House-maid must then be particular in having the room ready in time; and this may most conveniently be effected by the cook's affording assistance in the parlour where the family take their breakfast. The mistress will, of course, instruct her servants on this point.
Q. As the room set apart for the children's breakfast is seldom used for any other purpose, what will be your method of keeping it in order?
A. Breakfast being over, I avail myself of the earliest opportunity to remove the things; and, in the course of the morning, I lay the fire, clear the hearth, brush the stove and fender, wipe or rub the fire-irons with a leather, sweep the carpet, and dust the furniture.
A. By this method, there will be nothing left to do next morning, but to set a light to the fire, and lightly use the duster.
Q. As I consider you to be thoroughly acquainted with the way of preparing and arranging the family breakfast (See page 8), and with doing everything that may be afterwards requisite in the parlour, the bed-rooms, and the drawingroom, I need not question you on those points; but I wish to know whether you understand the proper
A. Yes, ma'am; first, I remove the brass rods; then I take up the carpeting, making as little dust as I can; next, I dust the balusters, and sweep and wash the stairs and skirting-board; and afterward I wipe, rub, and polish the mahogany hand-rail.
A. I then clean the rods with a dry wash-leather and a little dry rotten-stone, that they may be ready for putting down the carpeting.
Q. What is your method of putting the carpeting down?
A. After it has been shaken, or beaten, and wiped with a slightly-damped cloth if necessary, a point to be particularly attended to in putting it down, is a little to vary the position.
Q. What is that for?
A. By preventing the same parts from coming to the edges of the stairs again, the carpeting is prevented from wearing out in so short a time as it otherwise would.
Q. What more is necessary?
A. Only to lay it down very smoothly, that there may be no creases or marks on the surface.
Q. Do you know
which requires to be managed differently from other carpets?
A. Yes, ma'am: I do not use the carpet-broom to it more than once a week, and then in a particular manner, or it would soon be worn out.
Q. What is your particular manner?
A. Always to sweep it in the same direction.
Q. Why so?
A. Because, if swept in different directions - first one way and then another - it would become very rough, and any threads or crumbs that might be upon it would be forced into the nap, and its appearance would be dirty and slovenly.
Q. I should think it must always be so, if you sweep it only once a week?
A. No, ma'am; I prevent that by brushing it lightly every day with a long-haired hand-brush. I thus get all the dust and crumbs, and any litter that may have fallen upon it, into a dust-shovel.
Q. Well, you will have the cook to assist you in the bed-making, so I expect you will always have the chambers in excellent order?
A. Yes, ma'am.
The time for carrying the Luncheon-tray into the parlour varies in different families, according to the hours of breakfasting and dining, and other circumstances. Some families, also, are in the habit of taking a much more substantial luncheon, with greater variety, than others. Should the family take only bread or biscuits, with cheese or butter, or perhaps a piece of cake, with or without a glass of wine, a small tray with a napkin over it will suffice. In some families, the children dine when the rest of the family have their luncheon; in which case it is usual to have the cloth laid, as though it were for dinner, only with less form. Should there be pies or puddings, a dessert-spoon, as well as a small knife and fork, must be laid for each person. On all these points, the house or parlour-maid must be guided by the instructions of her mistress. But, at whatever hour the luncheon may be required, she must take care, on bringing it up to be neat and clean in her appearance.
Q. What is your general method of preparing the Luncheon-tray, and putting it on the table?
A. That must depend, ma'am, on what you and the family please to take for luncheon. If nothing more than a biscuit or a piece of cake, or a crust of bread-and-cheese, or butter, with or without a glass of wine, a small tray, with a napkin over it, a decanter of water, and some glasses, will be sufficient.
Q. But, as we do not dine very early, we generally require a rather more substantial luncheon; how will you manage it?
A. I will first lay a cloth over the proper luncheon-tray, and then place upon it whatever may be required, the same as though it were a table. The cold meat, if ordered; or, if sandwiches, the cook will cut them, and lay them on a dish. On the tray I also place small plates and knives and forks, salt, mustard, wine-glasses, tumblers, and a decanter of water.
A. Then I raise the ends and sides of the cloth carefully, spread the cloth smoothly over the contents of the tray, fasten it by the springs at the corners, and carry it up-stairs.
Q. What then?
A. I open the tray on the parlour-table, spread forth the cloth, and arrange the plates, knives and forks, glasses, and all the rest of the things.
Q. When the bell rings for the removal of the tray, what do you do?
A. I replace everything, clear the table of crumbs and the like, close the tray, and take it down-stairs.
Q. Anything more?
A. I wash whatever may have been used, put everything into its proper place - especially the plate - and save all ready for the dinner-table.
Q. Some persons still take a glass of mild table-ale at luncheon, dinner, or supper; but it is more usual, on those occasions, to take fresh, spring water, when it can be obtained, filtered-water, or toast-and-water. Do you know
A. Yes, ma'am. Some persons hastily scorch a lump of brad, throw it into a jug, pour a quantity of boiling water on it, and cover it up till cold. But this is a very bad way; as, even if the bread be properly toasted, as it always ought to be, instead of being scorched, the beverage made with boiling water will always be flat when drunk.
Q. Well, what is your way of preparing it?
A. I cut a piece of bread of two or three inches square, not too thick; toast it thoroughly, dry, hard, and brown, taking care not to burn it; put it into a jug, and pour on fresh spring water, or filtered water; cover it up close, let it remain an hour, and then strain it off. It should be prepared so as to be perfectly cold by the time it is wanted, but not sooner, as the fresher it is drunk the better.
As early in the day as may be convenient, all the dirty work having been got through, the dinner-tray should be prepared.
For laying the cloth, and serving a plain dinner on a small scale, in a family where there is only one servant to attend to everything, full information will be found at page 36. Where two servants are kept - a Cook and a House-maid - the dinners, especially when company is present, are generally on a larger scale, with more variety, and of a somewhat higher character. Some additional instructions, here tendered to the House-maid, will therefore be useful. But let her first carefully read over and study, if she have not already studied, the information referred to above, as commencing at page 36, and intended more particularly for the use of the Maid-of-all-work. The leading principles, and much of the details there given, are substantially the same as those which we now purpose more fully to illustrate. This point is one of much importance to the servant. In her earlier preparations, the House-maid must take care that the dinner-tray itself is perfectly clean. On that she must place the table-cloth and the napkins; the bread-basket, with a clean napkin at the bottom, to receive the bread; the salt-cellars, properly filled, and the salt neatly pressed; the casters, with all the cruets supplied with the requisite condiments; the knife-tray; and also the plate-basket, containing silver forks and spoons. On a smaller tray must be placed the wine-glasses - the water-bottles or carafes, filled with fresh spring water, and covered each with a small tumbler on the top - and a jug with an extra supply of spring water, should any be required.
Further, the maid must provide a little tray, with clean paper laid in it, to receive the knives, forks, and spoons that will have been used at the table.
Having ascertained that she has placed everything likely to be wanted on the trays, she must put the requisite number of plates into the warmer; always bearing in mind, that the plates must be kept moderately hot, ready on the instant they are called for, and the number somewhat exceeding that of the expected company, as an extra plate may now and then be desirable.
The cloth should be laid at least half an hour before dinner is ready, that there may be no bustle or confusion. Let quietness be the order of the day.
The House-maid, having attired herself suitably - neat and nice, but very plain - must inquire of the cook the number of the guests, and of what the dinner is to consist, that she may place the plates and dishes properly on the table. She may then take the trays into the parlour, and having dusted the table and sideboard, proceed to lay the cloth.
If the table have a cover, the cloth should be laid over it; in which case the use of mats is generally, though not invariably, dispensed with; but if there be no cover, mats must be laid to receive the dishes, otherwise the table would be injured by their heat. The larger mats must be placed, one towards the top, and another towards the bottom of the table; and if there be a centre dish, a third in the middle, with a small one at each side for the vegetables. If there are to be only large dishes, one at the top and the other at the bottom, the two small mats for vegetable dishes must be placed at equal distances between them; always preserving a regularity and uniformity of appearance in everything that is placed on the table.
Thus, in laying the cloth evenly, with the centre of the cloth in the centre of the table, so that the two ends and the two sides respectively may correspond with each other in length and depth, care must also be taken that the pattern of the cloth may rise from the bottom towards the top of the table; that is, for example, if the pattern present flowers, the cloth must be so laid that the flowers point upwards.
Having brought the trays, as already described, into the parlour, the maid must arrange their contents on the sideboard, so that she may be enabled to supply whatever may be wanted, on the instant. She must also so place the plate-basket, the knife-tray, the trays for receiving soiled knives and forks and spoons, and the basket for dirty plates, that they may be near the table and the sideboard, yet so as not to be in the way. Then she must bring in the plate-warmer, with the plates, and set it close to the fire.
Next, she must place a knife and fork, a dessert-spoon, a wine-glass, and a neatly-folded napkin, with a piece of bread in it, for each person; also a water-carafe and tumbler; unless, to prevent the table from being crowded, it should be found more convenient to place only one carafe for every two persons. Sometimes the carafes and tumblers are dispensed with altogether; and then the maid will have to hand a glass of water whenever it may be required. When there is company, two wine-glasses must be set for each person; one plain, for sherry, or any white wine that may be taken at dinner; the other green, for hock, or any of the Rhenish wines. If champagne be taken, champagne-glasses are supplied with the wine. The napkin, with the bread, must be laid either in the plate, or on the left hand of the person for whom it is intended; the wine-glass, or glasses, on the right hand.
If it be winter, the maid must dispose the lamp, or lamps, or candles, on the table, so that everything may be shown to most advantage. She must also have a good light on the sideboard. A brilliantly lighted room exhilarates the spirits of the company.
The placing of the dishes on the table - of the salt-cellars, table and gravy-spoons, carving knives and forks, fish-slice, soup-ladle, &c., is sufficiently described at pages 37 and 38. There must be a soup-plate in each of the dinner-plates.
When the dinner is ready to be served, the cook will bring the different dishes up to the parlour-door, where the waiting-maid will receive them quickly from her, and place them in order on the table.
The company having taken their seats, a clergyman, if there be one present, will briefly invoke a blessing on the meal; if not, the gentleman at the bottom of the table will perform the sacred duty.
The maid will then remove the covers, unless told to let any of them in particular remain. She will then attentively place herself at the left-hand of her mistress, at the head of the table, with a napkin on her hand, to receive the plates for the company, having a plate always ready in her hand, to give in exchange. The ladies are always helped first; and her mistress will tell her for whom each plate is intended. Should any one decline fish or soup, the maid must take care to have a hot plate ready as soon as the poultry or meat is carved. She must be sure to take everything required to the left hand of the person on whom she waits. On handing a plate to any one of the company, she must ask what vegetables are preferred, and obtain them from the person who may be nearest to the dish selected; or perhaps she will have to hand the vegetable dishes round, on a small tray; always remembering to take whatever may be wanted to the left hand of the party helped. This remark applies to whatever may be required; bread, a glass of water, the casters, or anything else, and always on a waiter.
Strict attention and observation, quickness, quietness, neatness, and carefulness in handling everything, are indispensable qualities in a waiting-maid. Without waiting to be told, she must, the instant a plate is emptied, or a knife and fork laid down, be ready with others to replace them. And she must supply a fresh plate and knife and fork for every dish that may be partaken of. If the fresh plate be for tarts or sweets, a dessert-spoon must also be supplied. When one of the company has declined any more of the sweet things, a cheese-plate, with a small knife and fork, must be supplied. A fork should never be omitted with cheese; if it be, the person must do one of two things, both of which are considered to indicate a want of acquaintance with good society: he must convey his cheese to his mouth with a knife, or with his fingers; the latter is the less offensive of the two.
As the waiting-maid must not leave the parlour during dinner, the cook should be at the door to receive from her any dishes that are to be removed; otherwise, she must place them on a slab or tray-stand outside. When the dinner is over, the maid must take round her knife-tray, to collect the knives; another tray for the spoons and silver forks; and a waiter, or small tray, for such spoons as may have been left unused, and for the glasses and salt-cellars. With a clean fork, she must then remove any pieces of bread that may have been left upon the table, into the bread-basket, clear the crumbs off the table-cloth with a napkin or a table-brush, turn up the edges of the cloth, and take it off neatly.
If wine only be taken, and no cakes or fruit, she must next place a D'Oyley before each person, with two wine-glasses, generally of different patterns, and one of them rather larger than the other.
After this, the maid will put coal on the fire, if wanted, and leave the room quietly.
It is the business of the cook to put the food away; and also to wash up the dinner-plates and dishes, and set them in their places. The housemaid takes charge of the dessert-service (if there have been a dessert), and also of the glasses, spoons, forks, salt-cellars, &c. She also takes charge of the table-cloth, folds it up neatly, and puts it into the press, if there be one. If not, she should place it in a drawer, kept clean for the purpose, with a cloth, or a sheet of paper, at the bottom.
Q. Have you made yourself acquainted with the method of collecting and arranging everything you want preparatory to laying the cloth for dinner, so that, when you have got your things into the parlour, and put them out handy on the sideboard, you will have no occasion to run up and down stairs?
A. Yes, ma'am. On the large dinner-tray I carry up the table-cloth and napkins, the bread-basket and bread, the salt-cellars and casters, the knife-tray, with the carving-knives and forks, and the plate-basket, with the silver spoons and forks.
A. On a smaller tray, I place the water-bottles, all full, with their tumblers, and a jug with an additional supply of fresh spring water.
Q. What next?
A. Then I have a waiter, or small tray, with clean paper on it, to receive the knives, forks, and spoons that have been used.
Q. And the plate-warmer?
A. That the cook places near the kitchen-fire, with the plates in it, rather more than the numbers of the company expected, to get hot.
Q. Having dressed yourself very neatly for waiting at table, when do you lay the cloth?
A. At least half an hour before the dinner is to be ready, so that there may not be anything to do then but to put the dishes on the table.
Q. Having taken the trays into the parlour, and laid everything out on the sideboard ready for use, you will be very particular in laying the cloth very smoothly and evenly, according to the pattern, so that there may not be more of it hanging down at one end, or at one side, than the other?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. What next?
A. Having brought up the plate-warmer, and set it close to the fire, and the cook having told me what number of persons are to dine, and the number of dishes and their contents provided, I place the table-mats, if any are used, for the dishes.
Q. You know how to place the mats?
A. Yes, ma'am; a large one at the head of the table; another large one at the foot; a third in the middle, if there are to be three dishes; and a small mat at each side of the centre one, for vegetables. If there are to be only two large dishes, I place one large mat at the top of the table, and another at the bottom, and two small mats in a line between them for the vegetables. Two, four, or six sauce tureens, as may be required, to be placed at regular and convenient distances, and in uniform situations, so as to assist in dressing the table nicely; or, if preferred, the sauce-tureens may be kept on the sideboard, ready to be handed round to the company on a waiter, as they may be wanted.
Q. And you are quite sure you know how to arrange the plates, knives and forks, spoons, salt-cellars, glasses, and the like, for the company - always putting the wine-glass or glasses on the right hand, and the bread on the left? (See pages 36-40.)
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. And you have a hot soup-plate, as well as a dinner date, for each person?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Well, having set the lamps; or candles in order, on the table, and lighted them just before dinner - having a good light also on the sideboard - what more have you be do?
A. Only to sweep the hearth, and make up a good fire, and then I shall be ready to receive the dishes from the cook, as she brings them to the parlour door.
A. The company having taken their seats, and grace having been said, I remove the covers from the dishes, and place myself on the left of my mistress, with a napkin in my hand, to receive the plates for the company; and I must always have a plate ready to exchange.
Q. In what order do you help the company?
A. Always the ladies first, ma'am; but you will please to tell me for whom each plate is intended.
Q. At which side of the person helped do you present the plate?
A. Always, whatever it may be, on the left hand.
Q. Should any lady or gentleman decline soup or fish?
A. Then I must take care to be ready with a hot plate as soon as the meat or poultry is carved.
Q. How do you help the company to vegetables?
A. Accordingly as I am told, ma'am. I either inquire, on presenting the plate, what vegetables will be preferred, and then obtain them from the gentleman to whom the dish may be nearest; or I hand the vegetable dishes round to the company on a waiter, or small tray.
Q. When a plate is empty, or a knife and fork laid down, what do you do?
A. I must instantly supply a fresh plate and knife and fork, and the same for every dish that may be partaken of.
Q. If the fresh plate be for tart, pudding, or sweets of any sort?
A. Then I must also supply a dessert-spoon.
Q. The sweet things having been disposed of, what next?
A. I put a cheese-plate, with a small knife and fork, before each person.
Q. As you must not leave the parlour during dinner, how will you dispose of the different dishes, as they happen to be done with?
A. The cook must be ready at the door to receive them from me; otherwise I must place them on a slab or tray-stand outside, ready for her.
Q. Well, the dinner being over, I suppose you know how to clear the table neatly and expeditiously?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Who puts the food away?
A. The cook, ma'am; and she washes the dinner-plates and dishes, and puts them in their places; but I take charge of the table-cloth, of the dessert-service, when it may have been used, and of the glasses, spoons, and forks, and all the plate.
Q. What do you understand by the different courses, as they are called, at dinner-parties?
A. Whatever dishes are placed on the table at one time, form a course; thus, soup and fish, or either of them, form the first course; the second course consists of meat, poultry, made-dishes, meat-pies, and vegetables; and the third course is composed of game, tarts, puddings, custards, creams, jellies, and other delicate sweets.
Q. Well, after the third course has been removed, what is done?
A. The cheese is then usually placed at the bottom of the table; and when that and everything else are done with and removed, and the wine-decanters placed before the gentlemen at the foot of the table, I bring in
Q. What do you understand by the dessert?
A. The fruit and sweetmeats which are eaten after dinner.
Q. And what do you understand by the dessert-service, which you will have to take in charge?
A. It is usually a service of ornamental china, sometimes interspersed with glass dishes, made and kept expressly for the purpose.
Q. What is the general arrangement of the dessert?
A. Its arrangement is on the same principle as that of the dinner; that is, I place the three principal dishes at the head and foot, and in the centre of the table; the richest and most ornamental in the centre; and the smaller ones at the sides; always preserving an agreeable and effective uniformity in the display.
Q. How do you manage that when the dishes are at all numerous?
A. I first set out everything in order on the kitchen table, to satisfy myself as to the effect.
Q. Well, what is your general method of placing the fruit, and whatever else there may be?
A. If I can obtain a few vine-leaves, which are considered very ornamental, and grateful to the eye, I form a projecting layer of them at the bottom of each dish; and then I put in the fruit, arranging it with regularity, showing off the finest to advantage, taking care not to crowd, and letting it rise gradually towards a point at the top. It must all be so placed as not to risk its rolling over, or falling out, when touched.
A. If there be a handsome ornamented cake, I would place that in the centre of the table, leaving the chief fruit-dishes for the top and bottom. If not, I would select some of the largest and finest fruit, such as apples, pears, peaches, oranges, or grapes, for the centre dish; pines and melons, from their beauty, rarity, and costliness, should be well displayed. Much, however, must depend on the season of the year. On these points I should always be glad to consult my mistress.
Q. Having determined on your centre dish, how do you arrange for the top, bottom, and sides of the table?
A. The fruit at the head and foot should be equally fine as that in the centre. The smaller dishes with gooseberries, currants, nuts, and sweetmeats, I would place down the sides.
Q. But several other things are required to make the table look well?
A. Between the top and middle dishes I would place the sugar-glass, or basin, with powdered sugar, and a small silver ladle, full of holes, called a sifter; and between the middle and lower dishes, there should be a cream-glass or basin, corresponding with that for the sugar, with a similar ladle, but without holes. The sugar and cream are indispensable when strawberries or raspberries are in season. The sugar, indeed, is always required.
Q. What further?
A. There should be one or two jugs or decanters of fresh spring water on the table, and near them a few small tumblers. There should also be a spoon by the side of each of the dishes.
Q. But you have not yet provided for the accommodation of the company?
A. I set a plate before each person, with a knife and fork of the smallest size,1 and a dessert-spoon. In the plate I lay a D'Oyley, and on the D'Oyley two wine-glasses laid down reversely
Q. Is that always the method?
A. Sometimes two plates are given; on the upper one a D'Oyley, and on the D'Oyley a small glass basin, called a finger-glass; half full of water. The wine-glasses are then placed at the side.
Q. Have you anything more to do?
A. Only to see that the fire is in good condition.
 Dessert knives, as well as forks, are very often of silver.
Different methods of making coffee are described at page 11; the making of tea for the family, at page 43; and the waiting upon a small tea-party, where only one servant is kept, at page 46. For an evening party, or for company after a dinner party, where there are two servants, the management must be somewhat different. In the latter case, the house or parlour-maid will have time to make her coffee, and prepare her tray with whatever may be necessary, whilst the company are taking their wine and fruit; but, that everything may be comparatively easy and comfortable for all parties, it is desirable that the cook should make the tea, pour the tea and coffee out, and take it up-stairs to the drawingroom door. On these occasions, a very small quantity of eatables, in proportion to the number of the company, will be found to suffice.
The manner of arranging the trays and waiters, handing round the tea, coffee, cake, &c., the receiving back the cups and saucers, and replenishing the former, are exactly the same as described for the small tea-party, at page 46; only the cook must, take care to be ready, at the drawingroom door, With a fresh supply of whatever may be wanted. In these instances, she will have to exchange trays with the waiting-maid.
Q. You quite understand how to make coffee, to arrange your trays for an evening party, and to wait upon the company?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. And you will have the assistance of the cook in making the tea, pouring the tea and coffee out, bringing it up to the drawingroom door, and doing whatever may be requisite?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. And you know how to wash up the china nicely, after tea, and put it carefully away? (See page 43.)
A. Yes, ma'am.
From the almost universal custom of dining late, regular Supper-Parties are now events of rare occurrence. The usual manner of arranging the family supper-tray is described at page 47; and a cold supper, for a small social party, at page 47. When a regular hot supper may be determined on, however, the servants will have nothing more to do than consider it a late dinner, and proceed accordingly.
In families which have a stock of plate, or of plated or other articles used in lieu of silver, it is usual to have only a certain portion in daily use, bringing out the remainder in turn, or on the arrival of visitors, so that it may all be worn equally. Where no man-servant is kept, that portion which is out is generally entrusted to the care of the house-maid, who, for its better keeping, should be provided with a plate-basket, and a closet or cupboard wherein she may place that and the china and in safety, under lock and key. In some families, however, the mistress prefers taking charge of the plate-basket at night, and that relieves the servant from much responsibility. In either case, it is part of the business of the house-maid carefully to count over every article, and see that it is in its place in the basket, the last thing at night.
The plate-basket referred to should be made with about six or eight divisions, lined with wash-leather or baize, to prevent injurious friction; and affording spaces for table-spoons, table-forks, dessert-spoons, dessert-knives, dessert-forks, soup-ladles, sauce-ladles, tea-spoons, &c.; so that each set of articles may be kept separate, and that any one may be had on the instant it is wanted.
Q. I believe you are acquainted with the manner in which I have my plate, plated articles, and such things, cleaned? (See page 48.)
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. And the parlour and dining-room candlesticks and lamps? (See pages 49, 50.)
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. In what manner do you take care of such plate as you may have in charge: spoons, forks, and the like?
A. I carefully wash and wipe every article after each meal, put it in its place in the plate-basket, and lock it up in my closet.
Q. What more?
A. At night I count every article over, to see that all is right; and should anything be missing, I inform you, so that it may be immediately sought for.
Q. And you understand the cleaning and care of the best steel knives and forks, the others being cleaned by the cook? (See page 53.)
A. Yes, ma'am.
On the due performance of the house-maid's duty on these points, where no man-servant or boy is kept, much of the comfort of a family depends; she will therefore find all that is necessary to be said on the subject at p. 23.
The general business under this head will be found fully described at page 56. It falls particularly within the range of the house-maid's duty; but she should have the assistance of the cook, especially in dusting, beating, brushing, and wiping the paillasses and mattresses; as, if those things are at all neglected, serious mischief is likely to ensue. Generally, the paillasses are not turned and shifted so frequently as they ought to be; and when that is the case, they are extremely liable - especially if the situation of the house have even the slightest tendency to dampness - to get into a moist, offensive, and unwholesome state. Moreover, if they are not dusted, beaten, brushed, and wiped, as well as turned, so often as they should be, they are likely to stick to some part of the bedstead, and afford breeding-places for moths and other vermin.
It is of great advantage to a house-maid to be able to use her needle dexterously. If educated in an industrial school, it must have been her own fault should she not have made herself mistress of the useful art, an art without which she can never keep herself neat, or those about her.
It is extremely desirable that a house-maid should be able to make, mend, and turn sheets, to hem towels and house-cloths, to darn linen, &c., neatly, to mend stockings, &c.
Q. Have you been accustomed to plain needlework?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Have you a workbag, and all the things you want, scissors, needle-book, thimble, pincushion, thread-papers, thread, cotton, worsted, and so forth?
A. Yes, ma'am; I have a box for my threads and cottons, white and coloured, which I keep separate; and I have a small bag for the other little things that are necessary. All of these I keep in a drawer when not in use.
Q. And how do you keep your work while it is in hand?
A. I fold it neatly, wrap it in a clean cloth, or sheet of paper, and keep it in a drawer with my little bag and box.
Q. Well, suppose you have a seam to make (having washed your hands before you begin), how do you set about it?
A. I pin the edges together, at regular distances, all the way down, so that I may see, as I come to each pin in succession, that I am not puckering my work.
Q. How do you prevent the seam from coming undone in the washing at the parts where you have taken fresh thread?
A. I take care to fasten the ends, on and off, very securely.
Q. If you have a table-cloth, sheet, house-cloth, towel, or napkin to hem, how do you manage?
A. Having seen that the ends have been cut quite even, I turn down the hem, evenly and exactly, and of the same width, at both ends; and the same at the sides, if there happen to be no selvage.
Q. Suppose you have to put a patch upon a sheet or any other linen article?
A. First, I take the piece intended to form the patch, tack it on the linen perfectly flat and straight, and fell it on neatly all round.
A. Then I turn the linen over, cut out the worn part, turn the edges in, tack them round so that all may lie quite straight, flat, and even, and fell the turned-down edges to the piece forming the patch.
Q. But should the linen, or cotton, requiring a patch, be printed in colours?
A. Then I must take particular care, if I have a piece of the same material, to make the pattern match.
Q. Sheets should always be turned when they begin to wear thin in the middle Suppose you have one to turn, what is your method?
A. Not attempting to cut the seam with either the scissors or a pen-knife, lest I should cut the selvages also, I pick the threads out carefully with a pin.
A. I must then turn the outer edges to the middle and sew them together.
Q. Should you find that the selvages of the old seam now forming the outsides, are unsound, notwithstanding your care, what must you do?
A. I must hem them, ma'am.
Q. Suppose you have to work upon glazed calico, which is stiff, and, unless something be done to it, will not allow the needle to pass freely, how do you manage it?
A. I pass a cake of white soap over it three or four times, and the needle will then work as freely through it as through any unglazed linen or cotton.
Q. When you have stockings, or anything else, to darn, how do you proceed?
A. Having obtained some very soft cotton, I darn every part where there is a hole, or where the material has worn thin, leaving a loop at the end of each turn, to allow for the shrinking of the cotton. If the stockings be of any woollen fabric, I must get worsted of the same colour, to match. After the darning, the loops may be cut off.
Q. In the mending of bedside carpets, or stair-carpeting, how do you manage?
A. I examine them when they are taken up; and if I find any holes, or thin places likely to be soon worn through, I darn, or otherwise mend them, with coarse worsted or yarn, of the same colour as the carpets, before they are again put down.
Should the family washing be done at home, either wholly or in part, the labour must rest between the house-maid and the cook, or otherwise they will both of them be called upon to assist the washerwoman who may be engaged for the occasion.
At all events, it is one of the especial duties of the house-maid to collect and assort the linen, from every part of the house, and to make out the necessary lists of all the different articles. (See page 59, where this business is fully explained.) Instructions for the actual process of washing are, however, reserved for the third and concluding section of this little volume, to be appropriated to the elucidation of the duties of Laundry-maid in washing, ironing, the getting-up of fine linen, &c.
Q. Do you know
should you meet with any such in sorting the clothes for the wash?
A. Yes, ma'am. Common stains may be removed by wetting the part, and rubbing on a quantity of soap, on both sides of the cloth; then rubbing in as much starch, mixed with cold water, as it will take; and if in the country, put it in the open air, on a grass plot.
Q. Should the stain not be removed by the first application, what would you do?
A. I would repeat it in two or three days; and should the weather be very hot, I would sprinkle the part with water.
Q. Have you any other method?
A. Many stains may be removed by dipping the linen into sour milk, and then drying it in the sun. As often as it dries, it should be washed, until the stain has disappeared.
Q. How do you take the stains of red port-wine out of linen?
A. By directly dropping plentifully on them, while wet with the wine, the tallow from a lighted candle, and letting the tallow remain on the linen a few days before it is washed.
Q. In the case of ink-spots?
A. Exactly the same application, provided the ink be yet wet.
Q. Well, for the ink-spots that have got dry?
A. Having mixed a little salt with some lemon-juice, in a glazed pipkin, I would heat the mixture gently over a clear fire. I would then dip the stained part of the linen several times into this mixture.
A. Before the linen is quite dry, I would wash it in a hot lather of soap and water. The washing should be repeated two or three times, until the spots disappear.
Q. I suppose what is called the essential salt of lemons, sold by the chemists and perfumers, would answer the same purpose?
A. Yes, ma'am. And there is another method, slightly varied, that answers extremely well.
Q. What is that?
A. I cut a lemon in half, and press the spotted part of the linen close over one half of the lemon, till the juice penetrates through. Then I place a hot iron on the linen, and the spots will soon entirely disappear.
Q. And for iron-moulds?
A. I wet the stains with water; then I lay the linen on a boiling-hot water-plate, and put a little of the essential salt of lemons on it.
A. As the part becomes dry, I wet it again; taking care that the water in the plate is kept boiling-hot. As soon as the spots are removed, I wash the linen with plenty of clean water, to prevent any injury from the acid.
Q. How do you get out stains caused by acids?
A. I wet the part, and lay on it some salt of wormwood; and then I rub it without any further addition of water.
Q. How do you take out fruit-stains?
A. In the stained part I tie up some pearlash; then I scrape some soap into cold soft water, to make a lather; and then I boil the linen till the stain disappears.
Q. Any other method?
A. I dip the linen into boiling water, or milk, and let it soak some hours; after which I let it lie in the air till the stain comes out.
Q. How do you take out mildew?
A. I mix some soft-soap with some powdered starch, half as much salt, and the juice of a lemon. This I lay upon the mildewed part of the linen, on both sides, with a painter's brush; and if in the country, I let it lie on a grass plot, day and night, till the stain disappears.
Q. And how do you extract paint-spots?
A. Spirits of wine, or lavender water, will take paint out of fine linen, if rubbed on the part, and the part be soaked in it awhile, before the paint is quite dry. Otherwise I would take a piece of clean woollen cloth, or flannel, and well rub the part affected by the paint with spirits of turpentine, or spirits of wine. Most chemists sell what are called “scouring drops,” for this purpose; but they are rather dear, and the end is answered well by the “prepared spirit of turpentine,” which is also sold by the chemists at a much less price; and it will take paint out of woollen as well as linen.
In families where a Laundry-maid is not kept, it is usual for the house-maid to be entrusted with the care of the bed and table linen, blankets, bed-furniture, and window-curtains. She will also be expected to look out and air the linen, and to see that it is kept in a proper state of repair. Where there are children, she will probably have to take charge of their wearing apparel, and to look out and air what they may require.
Q. Do you know
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. Well, as regards blankets?
A. I believe the best way to preserve blankets from moths is to fold them up, and lay them between feather-beds and mattresses that are in use; unfolding them occasionally, and shaking them.
Q. What is the best method of cleaning blankets?
A. The best way is to wash them, as scouring is very destructive.
Q. How do you preserve woollen stuffs, cloth pelisses, ladies' merinos dresses, or other articles of woollen texture?
A. There are various methods in use, ma'am. Some persons sprinkle the stuffs, and the drawers or boxes in which they are kept, with spirits of turpentine; the scent of which is speedily carried off when the stuffs are exposed to the air. Others place sheets of paper moistened with spirits of turpentine, over, under, or between pieces of woollen cloth, &c.
A. As nothing is so likely to harbour moths as dampness, great care should be taken in putting woollen things away for the summer, after they have been brushed, that they are completely dry. Some ladies put dried lavender flowers, cedar shavings, or cuttings of Russian leather, amongst their merinos and other woollen dresses.
Q. How do you manage with furs - such as ladies' tippets, muffs, and the like?
A. It is a good plan to hang furs, as well as woollen stuffs, out occasionally on a dry day, beating them with the hands, shaking them well, and then putting them away again. Great care must be taken that they are dry when put away; but furs must never be placed near the fire.
A. Some ladies lay a few pieces of camphor amongst their furs, to repel the moths; others pepper them thoroughly with ground black-pepper; others, again, on putting them away dry, but cool, lay what are called bitter apples amongst them. The apples are to be had at the chemist's, and they should be placed in little muslin bags, and sewn over in several folds of linen, carefully turned in at the edges. Another method of protecting furs against the moths is to sprinkle them, the same as stuffs, with spirits of turpentine.
Q. As the purity of water is a point of great importance in a family, do you know
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. To preserve it sweet, in the first instance, what should be done to waterbutts, or wooden tanks, before they are filled?
A. They should be well charred on the inner side; and the charcoal thus produced will keep the water sweet.
Q. When by any accident water has become impure and offensive, how may it be restored to sweetness?
A. By putting a little fresh charcoal, powdered, into the butt, or cistern; or by filtering it through freshly-burnt and coarsely-powdered charcoal.
Q. Is not alum also a powerful purifier of water?
A. Yes, ma'am; a pailful of water may be sweetened by stirring into it a teaspoonful of powdered alum; and a large tablespoonful stirred into a hogshead of impure water, will, in the course of a few hours, precipitate the impurities, and give it nearly the freshness and clearness of spring water.
Q. Do you know
which are a great nuisance in a house?
A. Yes, ma'am: most of the fly-waters in use are said to be poisonous, and consequently dangerous, especially where there are children; but I have been told of a mixture that is quite innocent, excepting to the flies, but perfectly efficacious as regards them.
Q. What is it?
A. I take a handful of quassia chips, which are sold very cheap at the chemist's; putting them into a basin, I pour a pint of boiling water upon them; let them infuse for a time; then strain off the liquor, and add to it two ounces of ground black-pepper, and a quarter of a pound of brown sugar.
Q. Well, what do you do with it?
A. I put the mixture in plates, or saucers, in places where the flies are most numerous.
Q. Have you any other method?
A. I have heard of a contrivance, ma'am, which is said to be highly successful, not only as regards flies, but wasps, and it is not at all of an offensive nature.
Q. What is that?
A. A slight frame should be made to fit closely round the inside of a window. A netting of black thread meshes, an inch and a quarter square, should be stretched over the frame, which should then be placed against the window. I am told that the insects will hardly ever venture to pass through the netting.
Q. Do you know
A. Yes, ma'am; by setting saucers or plates, filled with the grounds of beer, or tea, on the kitchen-floor, at night.
Q. How then?
A. In the morning the crickets will be found dead from the effects of the liquid. It is also said that crickets may be destroyed by putting Scotch snuff into the holes whence they come out.
Q. Do you know
A. Rats and mice may be effectually expelled by sprinkling chloride of lime (to be had at the chemist's) in places which they frequent; and if the leaves of the elderberry tree, or of danewort, are strewn in the way of mice, or moles, those animals will disappear.
Q. Do you know
A. Common coarse wafers, prepared with red lead, are sold at the oilshops for the purpose. A trap is also to be had for the same purpose, made with a glass well.
Q. Are you acquainted with no other method?
A. Nearly on the same principle as the beetle-trap, is a very simple contrivance; that of half filling a basin, or a pie-dish, with linseed oil, or sweetened beer, and setting it in such places as they are accustomed to frequent.
Q. How then?
A. Two or three slips of wood should be placed slanting from the dish to the floor, forming, as it were, so many ladders. Up these ladders, attracted by the smell of the liquid, the insects ascend, and, falling into the dish, or basin, are speedily destroyed.
Something has been already said, in the two preceding sections of this Manual, respecting the sorting and preparing of linen for the wash, &c.: it is now necessary to enter more into detail, on various points, as regards the actual process of washing, with that of ironing, and the getting-up of different articles for household and personal wear.
Much responsibility rests on the Laundry-maid. Independently of her having the care of the family linen, &c., in and through the wash, and after it has been ironed, aired, and put away to use, she will probably be required to take charge of the several materials used in washing; such as soap, starch, blue, soda, and a variety of other little things which it is necessary always to have at hand. As it is not unlikely, too, that she may have to purchase such articles, she must not fail to make herself acquainted with their qualities, sorts, and prices, and the most economical modes of managing them.
Then, again, she must see that the clothes-baskets, and clothes-lines, props, pegs, and horses, are kept clean and dry, and ready for use. Also that the washing and rinsing-tubs are kept clean - the boiling-coppers clean, and free from verdigris - the irons, of different sorts, all clean, and free from rust - the ironing-board and the ironing-blanket clean, and in a fit state for use - and that all iron utensils, and anything that can produce iron-moulds or other stains, be carefully kept away from the wash-house and laundry.
Soap, when very new, is much heavier than when it is old, and heavier in damp than in dry weather, from the quantity of moisture which it absorbs. It is therefore an advantage to buy soap in dry warm weather; and, for the sake of further economy, it should be kept some months before it is used. When brought home, it should be cut with a piece of clean fine wire, or with a piece of twine, into pieces of a convenient size for use. For the first fortnight or three weeks, it should not be exposed to the air; as, if it be allowed to dry quickly, it will crack and break when wetted. After a time, it should be placed on a shelf, with a small space between the pieces, and suffered to dry gradually. By adopting this method, a full third of the quantity will be saved in the consumption. The soap to be preferred for washing is the best yellow; and, having but a small quantity of alkali in its composition, it is less injurious to the hands than most other soaps. Soft soap, being exceedingly strong, is desirable for some purposes. For fine and delicate textures, such as lace, &c., the white or curd soap is preferred.
Soda (Scotch soda is best), by softening the water, saves a great deal of soap. It should be dissolved in a large jug of water. The solution should be poured into tubs and boilers; and when the latter becomes weak, more should be added.
Starch varies in price, according to the price of flour. The best starch will keep good in a dry warm room for years.
As clothes-baskets, for receiving the linen, &c., in different stages of operation, must be kept scrupulously clean, they should be occasionally washed with warm water and soap, and a scrubbing-brush, to remove such dust and dirt as may have lodged in the interstices; after which they should be well rinsed with cold water, and hung up to dry in the open air. They should be kept in a dry room, and before using be wiped with a damp cloth.
Clothes-lines should never be allowed to remain abroad when out of use. When done with, they should be carefully wiped, and, if wet, hung up in the open air to dry; after which they should be put away in a bag. Before they are used again they should also be wiped, to prevent them from soiling or marking the linen.
For the same reason, clothes-props and clothes-horses should be wiped before and after using; and also clothes-pegs. The pegs should be kept in a dry room, and preserved from the dust in a strong linen bag.
Pins should be used as sparingly and as carefully as possible, for securing fine articles, such as muslins, &c., on the lines; because when the wind is high they are very liable to be torn.
For the sake of economy in fuel, and also for the avoidance of smoke and blacks, cinders or coke should be burnt in the copper-furnaces.
Q. What do you consider to be the objects of your first and constant attention as a Laundry-maid?
A. To see that everything about and belonging to the laundry is kept clean, in its proper place, and always ready for use.
Q. What do you mean by everything?
A. The boiling-coppers, washing and rinsing-tubs; the clothes-baskets, clothes-horses, lines, pegs, and props; also, the flat and box, and Italian-irons, and the ironing-board and blanket.
Q. Anything further?
A. To prevent the clothes from getting iron-moulded or stained, I must carefully keep iron and copper articles of all sorts out of their way.
Q. What do you consider to be the best sort of soap for washing?
A. For general purposes, hard yellow soap of the best quality; as it has less alkali in its composition than most other soaps; and as it does not leave an unpleasant smell on the linen.
Q. Are not some other soaps occasionally used?
A. Yes, ma'am; from its great strength, soft soap is very useful in some cases; and for fine and delicate muslins, laces, and the like, the white or curd soap is desirable.
Q. What is the best season for buying or laying in soap?
A. It is an advantage to buy it in warm dry weather, and also when it is not in a very new state.
Q. Why so?
A. Because it is much heavier in damp than in dry weather, from the quantity of moisture which it absorbs; and when very new, it is much heavier than when old.
Q. Is it not also an advantage to keep it in the house some time before it is used?
A. Yes, ma'am; it is economical to do so.
Q. Well, what is your method of preparing and keeping soap, so that it may be used to most advantage?
A. As soap is always more or less soft when brought home, I lose no time, but immediately cut it into pieces of a convenient size for use.
Q. How do you do that?
A. With a piece of clean fine wire, or a piece of twine - but wire is best - kept for the purpose.
A. For the first two or three weeks, I do not leave it open to the air; as, if allowed to dry quickly, it will crack and break when wetted. After a time, I place it on a shelf, with a small space between the pieces, and suffer it to dry gradually.
Q. How long should it be kept in this state?
A. For some months, if convenient; as, in a dry and hardened state, it rubs away less rapidly in the water. Kept in this manner, a full third of the quantity of the soap is saved in its use.
Q. What is the use of soda?
A. It softens the water into which it is put, and consequently saves a great deal of soap.
Q. What is the best sort of soda?
A. Scotch soda is considered the best.
Q. How do you prepare it?
A. I dissolve a lump, of a size according to the quantity and strength required, in a large jug of water; and I pour the solution into the different tubs and boilers. When the lather becomes weak, I pour in more of the solution.
Q. How do you keep your starch?
A. It requires nothing more than to be kept in a warm dry room, and it will be good for years.
Q. Do you know
A. Yes, ma'am. Taking a quart basin, I put into it a tablespoonful of the best starch. This, having a clean wooden spoon for the purpose, I gradually moisten and rub down with a quarter of a pint of cold spring water, adding only a tablespoonful of the water at a time. When I have got it into a perfectly smooth state, and about the consistence of cream, I gradually stir into it a pint of boiling water. Then I pour the mixture into a clean glazed pipkin, which I keep for the purpose, and stir it over a gentle fire till it boils.
A. While in a boiling state, I two or three times turn round in it a piece of wax candle.
Q. What is that for?
A. It gives a smooth and glossy surface to the linen after it has been ironed.
Q. Anything more?
A. I also put a lump of sugar into it, which prevents the starch from sticking to the hot iron.
Q. Well, what next?
A. I strain the starch, thus prepared, through a piece of coarse muslin into a clean glazed pan or basin; after which, to prevent a skin forming on the top, I cover the pan or basin with a plate; and then, before it is quite cold, it will be ready for use.
Q. How do you keep your clothes-baskets in order?
A. I wash them occasionally with warm water and soap; using a scrubbing-brush for the purpose of removing such dust and dirt as may have lodged in the openings of the wicker. After this I rinse them well with cold water, and hang them up to dry in the open air.
A. I keep them in a dry room, as, if suffered to get damp, they would become musty; and, before using them, I wipe them with a clean, slightly damped cloth, to remove any dust they may have contracted.
Q. And your clothes-lines?
A. As soon as they are done with, after the wash, I carefully wipe them, and, if wet, I hang them up in the open air, or at a distance from the fire, to dry. When dry, I put them away in a bag. Before they are used again, I wipe them, that they may not soil or mark the clothes.
Q. And your clothes-horses, props, and pegs, how do you keep them?
A. I wipe them all, both before and after using; and the pegs I keep in a dry place, and preserved from the dust in a strong linen bag. When necessary, I also wash them.
Q. Do you use pins for securing things on the lines?
A. Very seldom, ma'am; only now and then, for fine articles, such as muslins, caps, or collars, and they should be used very carefully, as, when the wind is high, the things are very liable to be torn.
Q. What do you burn in the copper fires?
A. After they are first lighted, either cinders or coke; they are more economical than coal, and they do not produce smoke and blacks to an equal extent.
The method of collecting the soiled bed and body-linen from the bags in the several bed-rooms; and the table-cloths, dinner-napkins, kitchen-cloths, towels, and the like, and the sorting of the whole into heaps of such things as are suitable to be washed together, has been shown in the preceding sections of this Manual, appropriated respectively to the maid-of-all-work, and the house-maid. The Laundry-maid must attend yet more particularly to these points. She must especially remember, that muslins, nets, laces, and everything that is of a very fine description, must be kept entirely by themselves, and be handled very carefully; that ladies' Saxony, merinos, and other stuff dresses, must also be kept entirely by themselves; and that body-linen, fine table-cloths and napkins, sheets and hand-towels, kitchen-towels and cloths, coloured linen and cotton gowns, gentlemen's waistcoats, trowsers, cotton drawers, stockings, and socks, fine flannels, and other woollen articles, must all be washed separately.
The good laundry-maid will always remember, that the longer clothes are allowed to remain dirty, the more time, soap, and labour they will require to make them clean; and, what is of greater consequence, the more injury will they sustain in washing.
She will also remember, that, by putting cotton and linen stockings and socks to soak the night before washing-day, a material saving of time, soap, and labour may be effected.
With the exception of stockings, everything that requires mending should be mended before it is put into the wash; otherwise, if not entirely destroyed, it will be liable to sustain much additional injury. Stockings should be mended after they have been washed.
When convenient, such things as window-curtains, bed-furniture, counterpanes, blankets, and other heavy things, should be washed in summer, as they will then dry more quickly, and be of a better colour.
Q. Are you acquainted with the method of collecting all the different articles that require to be washed - the table, bed, and body-linen, dresses, waistcoats and trowsers, stockings and socks, flannels and the like - and sorting them into heaps, so that such and such things may washed together, or separately?
A. Yes, ma'am; I learned that first when I was maid-of-all-work, and afterwards, more fully when I was house-maid.
Q. Well, what is your assortment?
A. In one heap, to be kept very particularly by themselves, and to be managed with great care, I put the muslins, nets, laces, and everything that is of a very tender description; and in another heap, to be kept distinctly by themselves, and to be treated very carefully, I put ladies' Saxony, merinos, and other stuff dresses.
Q. Well, what else do you wash separately?
A. Body-linen, fine table-cloths and dinner napkins, sheets and bed-room towels, napkins and toilet-covers, window-curtains and bed-furniture, coloured linen and cotton gowns, gentlemen's waistcoats, trowsers, cotton drawers, stockings, and socks, kitchen-towels, cloths, and dusters, fine flannels, and other woollen articles, must all be washed separately.
Q. What is there in particular to be attended to respecting stockings and socks?
A. Everything else that requires mending should be mended before it is washed; but stockings and socks should not be mended until after they are washed.
Q. Anything more?
A. By putting stockings and socks in soak the night before washing-day, there is a considerable saving of time, soap, and labour.
Q. What is the best time of the year for washing window-curtains, bed-furniture, counterpanes, blankets, and other heavy things?
A. Summer is the best time, because such things will then dry more quickly, and be of a better colour than in the winter.
Q. Well, having collected and sorted all the linen, what are your remaining
A. If possible, I get everything quite ready the day before, that there may be nothing to wait for, or occasion delay in the morning. Thus, having taken care to have plenty of soft water, I first fill the copper, and lay the copper-fire ready for lighting.
Q. But if you have not an abundance of soft water, what must you do?
A. If I have not a sufficiency of rain or river water, I must use spring water, making it soft with soda, wood-ashes, or pearl-ashes.
Q. But would water so softened answer the purpose for coloured things, or flannels?
A. No, ma'am; it would spoil coloured things, and it would thicken and discolour flannels.
Q. What then?
A. I must secure what little rain or river water I may have, on purpose for them.
Q. And your tubs?
A. As I always clean them well before I put them away, turn them bottom upwards, and keep a little water on them, to prevent them from running, I have only to wipe them on the insides, to remove any dust that may have lodged.
Q. Well, to commence with the white things, shirts, &c.?
A. I put them into warm water - not hot water, as that would fix the dirt in them, and make them of a bad colour. At the same time, I soap such parts as may most require the soap to be rubbed in, such as the collars and wristbands of shirts, and where there may be most dirt, or appearance of perspiration.
A. Then I wash every article twice in plenty of clean warm lather. The next thing I do, is to shake out all the articles carefully, one by one, examining each to see whether it shows any spots or stains. If any of those remain, they must have another rubbing on the part. After this, I put all the things I have wash into the copper to boil, taking care not to crowd them by putting in too many at the same time. That the linen may have a good colour, I throw a small quantity of soap, cut into little bits, into the boiler.
Q. What next?
A. I wash all the things well out of the boiler, but without taking any more soap; and then I rinse them in plenty of cold spring water, into which I have before squeezed the stone-blue bag.
Q. I hope you take care not to be too free with the blue-bag; because, if you make the linen too blue, the colour will be worse than if it had none : it will look as though the blue had been used in excess, merely to hide the dinginess or yellowness, which is occasioned by careless washing?
A. Yes, ma'am; I have always been cautioned against that.
Q. Is the way you have described, the way in which linen is always washed?
A. Some persons wash the things only once, and rinse them twice, after they have been boiled; first in plain water, and then in blued water; but, as I have been taught, the other method is preferable, and I have always found it answer.
Q. After the rinsing, what do you do?
A. Then I hang the things out to dry.
Q. How do you manage
and things of a similar texture and description?
A. To do them properly, ma'am, I first let the gathers out of the dresses, and take the bodies off from the skirts. Then, if they happen to have any grease-spots on them, I soap those parts. Afterwards, I wash them successively in two warm clean lathers.
A. Then I carefully wring the greater part of the water out of them; afterwards, I shake them well, lay them on a large, soft cloth, or sheet, and roll them up together as tightly as possible, by which means I get out all the remainder of the water.
Q. What next?
A. I let them remain in the cloth for a few minutes; then take them out, shake them, and hang them up in the shade till they are nearly dry.
Q. And then what do you do?
A. I then iron them, while they are yet damp, with a cool iron, on the wrong side.
Q. How do you manage dresses made of Saxony cloth, merinos, and other fine woollen stuffs?
A. I must have a little fresh ox-gall in the water, which will at once free them from grease, and give freshness and brightness to the colours.
Q. How do you use the ox-gall?
A. I mix up about a pint of the ox-gall, as fresh as I can get it, in a rather large tub of warm, soft water, not hot water, which will be sufficient for two or three dresses. The lather produced by this mixture will be similar to that of soap.
Q. But, as the gall is apt to have a disagreeable smell, especially if not very fresh, how do you get rid of that?
A. I put salt into the rinsing water, and that will remove the offensive smell of the gall. I rinse the articles twice, shake them out, and hang them up in the shade to dry.
As already intimated, water that has been made soft by the addition of pearl-ash, soda, wood-ashes, soap-lees, or anything of the sort, must not be used for the washing of coloured things, or flannels. It would make the colours of the printed articles run, and would thicken the flannels and turn them yellow. If possible, therefore, rain or river water must be reserved for them.
Q. Have you got any rain or river water for washing the flannels, and coloured linens, or cottons?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. What is your method of managing them?
A. Having washed the flannels, I rinse them in warm water, and then hang them out without wringing. If not too dirty, the lather in which the flannels have been washed will answer the purpose better than any other for the first washing of the coloured things; and, for their second washing, I take the warm water in which the flannels have been rinsed.
A. After washing the coloured things thoroughly, I rinse them twice in plenty of cold spring water, with a little salt in it, and hang them up directly, without wringing. I take them quickly from one water to another, and do not suffer them to lie together before I hang them up, or the colours will be very liable to run.
Q. Is that the way they are always treated?
A. No, ma'am; some persons like to have them wrung out and shaken before they are placed on the lines, but I believe the other is the better way, as less likely to effect the colours.
Q. But, suppose it is not convenient to hang them up immediately after the second rinsing, then what do you?
A. I must let them remain in the cold water, taking care that it has salt in it.
Q. How do you secure the gowns to the clothes-lines?
A. I peg or pin them up by the shoulders, not by the skirts, lest the body-linings should get discoloured.
Q. How do you manage white dimity or cotton bed-furniture, window-curtains, and the like?
A. In all cases, white or coloured, I get rid of as much of the dirt as possible, by shaking and brushing. As white furniture is generally taken down towards the end of the summer, and not put up again till the ensuing spring, it is, I believe, the best plan to have it washed, rough-dried, put away, and washed again a week or ten days before it is required for putting up.
Q. Well, after it has been taken down, shaken, and brushed, to get rid of the loose dirt, how do you proceed?
A. I put it into a tub of cold water, more particularly the head, tester, and valances of bed-furniture.
Q. And how then?
A. I leave the whole of the furniture to soak for two or three days, rinsing it out, and giving it fresh water repeatedly.
A. Next, I rinse it through a clean soap lather, slightly blued, rough-dry it, and put it away till a few days before it will be wanted, to be put up again in the spring.
Q. And then?
A. Then I wash, boil, and slightly starch it. Before hanging it out to dry, I shake out the fringe, and put it in order; and, when the furniture is properly dry, I fold it down neatly and smoothly, and leave it in a state for putting up.
Q. Well, how do you manage coloured furniture?
A. In much the same way, ma'am, as other coloured things. In the first place I take care not to let it lie in any place where it can get damp before it is wanted for the wash. For washing, I use soft warm water, and soap the furniture in the usual way. I wash it twice, wringing it out of the first lather, and putting it into the second immediately. Having examined it, and satisfied myself that every part is clean, I wring it out of the second lather, piece by piece, and throw it into a tub of cold spring water for rinsing. As I rinse it, I hang it out and let it dry as quickly as possible.
Q. What is the best method of placing such heavy articles on the clothes-lines?
A. In the hanging up of bed-furniture and the like, I put such parts as are thick or double next the line, leaving the thinner parts to hang down, and blow about, that they may have the benefit of the wind. When the thinner parts are dry, I shift their places, putting them at the top, next the line, and letting the thick parts hang downwards.
Q. Supposing the weather should be wet, or otherwise so unfavourable that the drying cannot be proceeded with out of doors, what would you do?
A. It would be better to let the furniture remain all night in the rinsing-water, having a little salt in it, than that it should lie about damp.
Q. But, if it have got half dry out of doors, what will be the best way of disposing of it for the night?
A. I believe the best way will be to hang it up, or spread it forth on a large horse, in a room, and hang it out again early next morning. Or, should there be no chance of favourable drying abroad, it will be better to dry it quickly before a fire, or round a stove.
Q. If you mean to starch it, what is your method?
A. I would have a sufficient quantity of made starch ready, and stir it into the rinsing-water.
Q. What is your method of washing fine thread and cotton stockings and gloves?
A. I soap them well, put them into a lather of cold water, and boil them; then I put them into another fresh cold lather, and boil them again.
A. When taken out of the second boiling, they will require little more than rinsing in cold spring water, shaking and hanging out to dry.
Q. How do you wash white silk stockings, or gloves?
A. I wash them in two milk-warm soap lathers, and then in a third almost boiling, with some stone blue in it.
A. I then nearly dry them - that is, till they are merely damp; after which, I hang them in the fumes of brimstone for two or three hours.
Q. What next?
A. I then put them upon a pair of stocking-trees, or legs, usually kept for the purpose, and polish them by rubbing them with a smooth bottle, or a glass rolling-pin. The gloves may be done in the same manner by placing them on hand trees.
Q. Why do you not mangle them?
A. Because, if washed silk stockings or gloves are mangled, they are apt to have a watered appearance; but, if stretched on boards, or trees, and rubbed on the right side with a glass bottle, or with a piece of clean soft flannel, till dry, they will look much better.
Q. Do you know
A. Yes, ma'am: having washed and thoroughly dried my hands, I put on the gloves; and then, in a basin of spirits of turpentine, I wash them - exactly as though I were washing my hands - until they are quite clean.
Q. Is it the common spirits of turpentine that you use for this purpose?
A. The common spirits will do; but the prepared spirits to be had at the chemist's are better, because more pure.
A. I then hang the gloves up in a moderately warm place, or where there is a good current of air, by which means the smell of the turpentine will be carried off.
Q. Any thing further?
A. Before they are quite dry, they should be placed on a pair of hand-trees, which are extremely useful in the washing and cleaning of all sorts of gloves.
Q. What is considered to be the best way to keep the colour of flannels, and to prevent them from shrinking?
A. To scald them with soft water, and to let them lie and soak till they are cold, the first time they are washed; or, for many purposes, it is preferable so to scald and soak them before they are made up.
Q. What is the sort of lather you generally use for woollen things?
A. With a bit of old flannel, or a piece of sponge, I rub up a very strong lather of either yellow or soft soap - the latter being very strong; and I use it as hot as I can possibly bear my hands in it. Or the lather may be made by putting not less than half-a-pound of soap into a gallon of water, and boiling it.
Q. If the woollens be very large, dirty, and greasy, what do you do?
A. In that case, I would make lather of ox-gall, half-a-pint of the gall to six quarts of water, whisked up with a common whisk, or with a handful of birch-twigs. Whether of gall or of soap, the lather may be prepared with a small quantity of water, and the remainder added, boiling-hot, the instant before it is used.
Q. When the things are very dirty, you must have two lathers, of course?
A. Yes, ma'am; and then I must have some person to prepare the second while I am using the first; or I must prepare the two lathers in separate vessels, before the woollens are wetted, leaving only the boiling water to be added.
Q. Do you rub the different articles much?
A. No, ma'am, I do not rub them at all, nor do I use any soap to them, only the lather.
Q. How, then, do you get them clean?
A. I take a single article at a time, and keep on raising and lowering it, dipping and raising it, in and out of the water, for two or three minutes; by which time the wool will have absorbed the soap, and nothing but slimy suds will remain.
Q. How do you get rid of the smell of the ox-gall?
A. When gall is used, the articles must have a third washing in hot water only, and that will sweeten them.
Q. When you take the articles out of the water for rinsing, do you wring them?
A. No, ma'am, I never wring woollen, but I squeeze them as dry as possible.
Q. And how do you manage the rinsing?
A. Having squeezed the articles thoroughly, one after another, I throw them into the rinsing-tub, and fill it, covering everything with boiling water.
A. I let them remain till they are sufficiently cool to be handled, and then I rinse them well, and squeeze out the water.
Q. What next?
A. I never lay them down after taking them out of the water; but, without losing a moment's time, I hang them up and get them dry as quickly as possible.
Q. With the lighter things, such as Shawls, how do you manage?
A. I would spread a shawl, or anything of a similar description, on a coarse dry cloth, and pull it out smoothly into its proper shape. Having done this, I would lay another coarse dry cloth over the shawl, roll the whole up together lightly, let it remain about half-an-hour, then unroll it, and hang the shawl up to dry.
Q. You say you hang the things up, and get them dry as quickly as possible - of course you mean in the open air; but, should the weather be wet, damp, or even doubtful, what would you do?
A. Then I would spread them before a fire, or hang them in a room where there may be a strong current of air.
Q. And, when dry, what would you do with straight things, such, for instance, as Table-covers?
A. I would fold them smoothly, and leave them all night in a mangle.
Q. And for things that have buttons, such as Waist-coats and Trowsers?
A. The best way is to smooth them with an iron only slightly heated.
In the early part of last year (1849), a considerable stir was made by a “Mr. Harper Twelvetrees,” respecting an alleged invention or discovery of his, by which it was professed, that “a six weeks' wash might be accomplished before breakfast, for less than sixpence, without a washerwoman.” For a time, Mr. Twelvetrees advertised his “secret” for sale; that is, any person who would send to him thirty penny post-office stamps, should receive, in return, a copy of the receipt for the preparation, with instructions for its use, and testimonials of its virtue. Of course, the “secret” was soon divulged; and then Mr. Twelvetrees resorted to the expedient of selling the preparation itself at a moderate price; that is, at 6d. per bottle. However, the receipt, instructions, &c., found their way into print; first, we believe, in the pages of the Family Friend, a little periodical work much favoured by ladies. On the suggestion of the editor of that publication, half-a-dozen large bottles of the mixture were submitted to a “Committee of Investigation,” or “Jury of Matrons” and, after “a fair trial,” the verdict unanimously returned was - “It is a very good thing indeed!” And so, without professing to have subjected it to any test ourselves, we submit the receipt to the consideration of such of the “mistresses of our Industrial Schools” as may be led by their judgment to give it a trial.
“Half-a-pound of soap; half-a-pound of soda; and a quarter-of-a-pound of quick lime. Cut up the soap and dissolve it in half-a-gallon of boiling water: pour half-a-gallon of boiling water over half-a-pound of soda: and a sufficient quantity of boiling water over the quarter pound of quick lime to cover it. The lime must be quick and fresh; if quick, it will bubble up on pouring the hot water over it. Each of these must be prepared in separate vessels. Then put the dissolved lime and soda together, and boil them twenty minutes. After which, pour them into a jar to settle.”
It is said by some persons that, so far from being new, this invention was successfully practised in Berkshire twenty years ago. However, Mr. Twelvetrees professes to have recently made some improvements in it; and Dr. Andrew Ure, a celebrated chemist, having subjected the preparation to analysis, has pronounced it to be not injurious to the linen fabric. Indeed, the general opinion amongst those who have tried it, seems to be, that the use of lime is not more detrimental to the linen than the severe rubbing to which it is exposed under the old system. Some consider that “the soda and soap compound answers the purpose extremely well without the lime, and that no lime or water from it should be used.”
A Mr. Jesse Dobill, of Dartford, recommends, after trial, the following modification of Mr. Twelvetrees's method:-
“Instead of preparing each of the articles by themselves, dissolve the half pound of soda overnight in one gallon of boiling water, pour it on the lime and let it settle; cut up the soap, and pour the clear water (i.e. from the lime and soda) upon it, and in the morning it will be a dissolved mass fit for use. If prepared in this manner, the twenty minutes boiling of the dissolved lime and soda is entirely dispensed with.
“In either of these processes, soft curd or common yellow soap may be employed, but it is of importance that the lime be white and quick - the latter may be known by the hissing and bubbling resulting when the water is poured upon it; if this does not take place, the lime is unfit for the purpose.”
“1st. Set apart all flannels and coloured things, as they must not be washed in this way. They may be washed in the usual way, in the intervals while the other things are boiling.
“2nd. Soap the collars and wristbands of shirts, the feet of stockings, &c., &c., and rub them a little. This must be done the previous night, and the clothes set to soak until the next morning.
“3rd. Next (i.e. in the morning) pour ten gallons of water into the copper, and having strained the mixture of lime and soda well, taking great care not to disturb the settlings, put it, together with the soap, into the water, and make the whole boil before putting in the clothes. A plate must be placed at the bottom of the copper, to prevent the clothes from burning.
“4th. Boil each lot of clothes from half-an-hour to one hour. After taking them out, rinse them well in cold blue water. When dry they will be beautifully white.
“5th. The same water will do for three lots. The finer things should be done first, the coarse and dirtier afterwards.
“The mixture, after having been used for the clothes, may be employed to clean silver, brass, copper, tin, or any other description of metal. After washing, they should be dried and polished with leather. The liquid may then be used for scouring floors, or cleaning paint. Thus it undergoes a variety of transmutations, all essentially serviceable to the housewife.”
It has been suggested that the laundry-maid, or person who may superintend the wash, should, in passing the respective articles from the boiling-copper into the rinsing-tub, look over them, and give them a rub here and there where it may happen to be required.
Q. You have told me how you make your starch; now can you tell me how you use it for starching the clothes?
A. Yes, ma'am; when the things are quite dry, and while the starch is warm, I dip them into it, beginning with the finest things, such as clear muslins and nets.
A. When I have starched all the things, I dip them into cold spring water, shake them out well, and dry them.
Q. What then?
A. Two or three hours before I proceed to iron them, I spread them smoothly, a few at a time, upon a white dry cloth, sprinkle them with cold water, and then roll them up rather tightly together in the cloth.
Q. What is that for? A. To prevent them from sticking to the ironing-blanket when ironed.
Q. How do you prepare for folding?
A. I sort the things into three divisions: those which are to be ironed; those which are to be mangled; and those which are to be rough-dried.
A. Having seen that the folding-board is quite clean, I spread over it a clean linen cloth, and then proceed with the folding.
Q. In what manner?
A. As shirts, night-gowns, drawers, and many other things are always washed with their insides outwards, I now turn them as they are worn, and then sprinkle them to a proper degree of dampness for ironing.
Q. With respect to the shirts, do you sprinkle them all over alike?
A. No, ma'am; I dip the fronts, frills, collars, and wristbands of the shirts into cold water; and then, without squeezing them, I fold each shirt together; and by letting it lie for a time, the whole shirt becomes of a proper degree of dampness for the iron.
Q. Well, when you have done folding, you of course proceed with the ironing?
A. Yes, ma'am.
Q. What sort of flannel should the ironing-blanket be made of?
A. Of a very thick sort, called swanskin, and I spread a coarse cloth upon the ironing-board, to lie under it, which makes the surface of the blanket softer, and more yielding and elastic to the iron.
Q. In what manner do you heat your irons?
A. The old method is to place them on a hanger in front of the fire; but an ironing-stove is much to be preferred; it is not very expensive; it is very economical in the consumption of fuel; and it keeps the irons much cleaner than the old method.
Q. How do you clean your hot irons before using them?
A. First upon a piece of sand-paper; then upon a piece of cloth or old bed-ticken, kept for the purpose; and, before putting them on the linen, I wipe their faces carefully, and ascertain that they are quite clean. But with an ironing-stove they require hardly any trouble to make clean.
A. Then, to be sure that they are not too hot - that they will not scorch or smear the clothes - I take up something coarse, and iron it, before I meddle with the fine things.
Q. But the same degree of heat will not do for all things alike?
A. No, ma'am; the heat of the iron - always taking care that it is not too hot - must be in proportion to the thickness of the substance to be ironed.
Q. Do you know how to use the box-iron?
A. Yes, ma'am; but the box-iron is very little used now to what it was formerly, as for many small fine things, such as frills and laces, the Italian-iron answers much better.
Q. Has not some improvement been lately introduced in ironing?
A. Yes, ma'am; I dare say you mean what is called the slipper.
Q. What is it like?
A. It is made to serve as an iron case or receptacle for the common flat iron, which slips into it like a foot into a slipper, and is secured by a very simple spring. The lower surface is smooth, and highly polished; and as it is never put to the fire, it is always perfectly clean.
Q. Is it difficult, or troublesome to use?
A. No, ma'am; quite the contrary; it saves much time and trouble. The common iron, having been duly heated, and the dust wiped off, is slipped into it, and secured by the spring, and then it is freely used, without the risk of scorching, smearing, or in any way soiling the linen.
Q. Is the slipper an expensive article?
A. No, ma'am; it costs only about ten-pence, or a shilling, according to size, and may be had at most ironmongers.
Q. How many would be required for the use of a moderate-sized family?
A. Only one, ma'am, or two at the most, of different sizes, unless two or three people were employed in ironing at the same time. And, as the old flat irons are used with the slippers, no additional expense is incurred.
Q. How do you iron shirt-fronts?
A. The best and most convenient way to iron them is upon a board about twelve inches long and eight inches wide, covered with fine flannel. After the back of the shirt has been ironed, I place the board between the back and front.
Q. And how do you iron the skirts of dresses?
A. They may be ironed in a similar manner to shirt-fronts, using a board of the same length as the skirt, twelve inches wide at one end, and twenty six inches wide at the other.
Q. How do you fix the board?
A. Having covered it with a blanket, or suitable piece of flannel, I let it rest upon a thin block of wood at each end, to prevent it from creasing the skirt beneath.
Q. What are the things that you usually put into the mangle?
A. Everything that is straight; such as sheets, table-cloths, napkins, and silk pocket-handkerchiefs. Waistcoats or trousers must not be mangled, on account of their buttons, which would get broken in mangling, and might also cut or otherwise injure the garment. And things with plaits and folds could not be made to look smooth when mangled. In placing things in the mangle, care must be taken that everything is laid quite smooth.
Q. And what is your method with the things that are rough-dried?
A. I fold them down as smoothly as possible, and crease them in the same manner as though they had been creased with the iron. After this, I let them lie for some hours, or until the following day; and then I hang them, folded, on the clothes-lines, or on the clothes-horse, that they may get perfectly dry before they are laid away in the drawers.
Q. Of course you take care that everything is thoroughly aired at the fire, before it is folded and put away?
A. Yes, ma'am; and again before it is used or worn.
Q. As many shocking deaths have from time to time been caused by ladies' and children's dresses taking fire, it is very desirable that means should be made known for preventing the frequency or probability of such accidents. Do you know
A. Yes, ma'am; the means of prevention are extremely simple.
Q. What are they?
A. Nothing more is necessary than to dissolve a piece of alum in the water in which the muslins are rinsed. After they are dry, if a light be applied to them they will smoulder slowly away, but will not break forth into a blaze.
Q. Is not the alum injurious to the muslin?
A. No, ma'am; on the contrary, the muslin will look all the better for its use.