Beeton’s Book of Household
Edited by Mrs. Isabella Beeton
The Victorian household did not run itself. There were servants to be hired and trained, meals to be prepared thrice daily, decorum to be strictly observed, and, of course, the ever-present pot of tea to be carefully infused and served to dwellers and visitors alike. In 1861, the publication of Beeton’s Book of Household Management (amazon.com) helped women negotiate the maze of duties, skills, and subtle artifice required to care for a home and its inhabitants—from every aspect of cookery and recipes to the social dictates of morning calls and formal galas. Today, we honor dear Mrs. Beeton and her iconic work with a sentimental look back at her enduring advice and charming parlance. Join us!
- To make old crape look nearly equal to new: Place a little water in a teakettle, and let it boil until there is plenty of steam from the spout; then, holding the crape in both hands, pass it to and fro several times through the steam.
- In all these visits, if your acquaintance or friend be not at home, a card should be left. If in a carriage, the servant will answer your inquiry and receive your card; if paying your visits on foot, give your card to the servant in the hall, but leave to go in and rest should on no account be asked.
- Silk dresses should never be brushed, but rubbed with a piece of merino, or other soft material, of a similar colour, kept for the purpose. . . . If the dresses require slight repair, it should be done at once: “a stitch in time saves nine.”
- From kitchen ranges to the implements used in cookery is but a step. With these, every kitchen should be well supplied, otherwise the cook must not be expected to “perform her office” in a satisfactory manner. Of the culinary utensils of the ancients, our knowledge is very limited; but as the art of living, in every civilized country, is pretty much the same, the instruments for cooking must, in a great degree, bear a striking resemblance to each other.
- The bonnet should be dusted with a light feather plume, in order to remove every particle of dust; but this has probably been done, as it ought to have been, the night before. Velvet bonnets, and other velvet articles of dress, should be cleaned with a soft brush.
- After luncheon, morning calls and visits may be made and received. These may be divided under three heads: those of ceremony, friendship, and congratulation or condolence. Visits of ceremony, or courtesy, which occasionally merge into those of friendship, are to be paid under various circumstances. Thus, they are uniformly required after dining at a friend’s house, or after a ball, picnic, or any other party.
- We will, however, forthwith treat on the most popular of our beverages, beginning with the one which makes “the cup that cheers but not inebriates.”