Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

Oct 15th, 1864

Wine Versus Temperance

Physicians often recommend poisons for the cure of certain diseases. It is probably on the same principle that wine is said to be an antidote for intemperance. As fatal disorders in the physical system require harsh methods for relief, so, we are told, the great panacea for this malady of the social body is pure juice of the grape!

There are those who urge that a plentiful supply of unadulterated grape wine would have a tendency to throw out of use the poor whisky with which the market is flooded. This may be so, but it seems to us that the temperance cause will not be very materially advanced by the change. We cannot see why a man who drink to excess would not be just as wiling to get drunk upon pure sweet wine, as upon the poisonous product of the still, provided he could get one as easily and cheaply as the other. We cannot but think that those who recommend the extensive manufacture of wine are advocating an experiment that is fraught with the greatest danger.

Just at this time, when the temperance reform is again attracting attention, and the pledge of total abstinence being circulated, it seems somewhat startling to hear prominent members of horticultural societies say that they cannot recommend any grape for general cultivation unless it will make a good wine.

Fermented grape juice is admitted to be alcoholic, if alcoholic then it is intoxicating, and if it is intoxicating and becomes plenty and cheap, then it is dangerous. No true friend of the temperance movement can refure to take the pledge of total abstinence. If he does that, he excludes from the list of his indulgences, wine. The whole fraternity, then, of temperance men is committed against this beverage. This being the case it seems a strange anomaly that persons of influence and distinction, persist in advocating the extensive manufacture of wine, and urge as their strongest plea that it will be a death-blow to intemperance! They tell us that among the vine-clad hills of Italy, and upon the vineyard-skirted banks of the Rhine, where wine is almost as free and plenty as water, intemperance is nearly unknown. This may be true and yet not destroy our position. American character and society are essentially different from either Italian, German or French. What is a blessing there, might prove to be a curse to us.

The ancient wise man, when he said “strong drink is raging,” did not refer to whisky or beer. They are products of a later age than his. Distilleries were not among the institutions of the ancient Jews. His words of condemnation were uttered against wine, sparkling, innocent wine! Let us have grapes, simple and fresh, and be satisfied with them. Let them be as plenty and cheap as we can make them. Let the people eat and be contented. Grapes are healthy, “Wine is a mocker.” W.S.F. Verona, Oneida Co., N.Y., 1864

 

Published in: on October 15, 2014 at 6:06 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

October 8th, 1864

Household Conveniences

I have a slate hanging in my pantry with a pencil attached, upon which we are accustomed to write down such domestic concerns as need attention. For instance, upon one side of it is now written, “Send for corn-meal, starch and lamp chimney.” “Examine butter firkin.” “Engage onions of Mr. Allen to-morrow.” These are for my own attention, while upon the other side the girl is reminded to “Brown coffee; gather beans for drying.” “Scald the bread box.” “Wash cellar shelves.” Whenever I find any little item that needs attention either from myself of the girl, I trust it to my slate, and find it much safer than to run the risk of remembering it at the right time. You often hear housekeepers exclaiming “There, I forgot entirely to send for such a thing – or do such a thing, and now it is too late.” Try the slate.

Another – Beside the slate hangs a small blank book, also furnished with a pencil, in which I keep an account of my household expenses. The pages are variously headed “Flour,” “Sugar,” “Meat,” “Butter,” &c., with an extra page, above, I put the amount which I have decided by careful estimate is all we can afford to spend monthly, or yearly, (I have tired both ways) for the article designated. Then I enter every purchase made under its appropriate head, giving date, quantity, price and amount. At the close of each month it is easy to see whether we live within our income or not. You farmer’s wives may think this neither possible nor useful for you, but I assure you if you would once try it you would find a satisfaction from it that would abundantly repay the trouble. I recommend it most earnestly, however, for the wives of salaried men, and mechanics whose income is fixed, and who purchased the staples for their family consumption.  E.H.M.

 

Published in: on October 8, 2014 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

October 1st, 1864

How to Tell a Lady

Two women shall get into an omnibus, and though we never saw one of them before, we shall select you the true lady. She does not titler when a gentleman, handing up her fare, knocks off his hat, or pitches it awry over his nose; nor does she receive her “change,” after this (to him) inconvenient act of gallantry, in grim silence. She wears no flowered brocade to be trodden under foot, not ball-room jewelry, nor rose-tinted gloves; but the lace frill around her face is scrupulously fresh, and the strings under her chin have evidently been handled only by dainty finger. She makes no parade of a watch if she wears one; nor does she draw off her dark, neatly –fitting glove, to display ostentatious rings. Still we notice, nestling in the straw beneath us, such a trim little book, not paper-soled, but of an anti-consumption thickness; the bonnet upon her head is of plain straw, simply trimmed – for your true lading never wears a “dress hat” in an omnibus. She is quite as civil to the poorest as to the richest person who sits besides her – and equally regardful of their rights. If she attracts attention, it is by the unconscious [sic]ace of her person and manner, not by the o[sic]entation of her dress. We are quite sorry when she pulls the strap and disappears; if we were a bachelor we should go home to our solitary den, with a resolution to become a better and a – married man.

 

Published in: on October 1, 2014 at 6:04 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

Sept 24th, 1861

Fires in the Bedrooms.

Most people, even many intelligent reformers have the idea that to sleep in a cold room is good – essential health. It is an error. It is better to have an open fire in your bed-room. The atmosphere is not only by this means constantly changed, but with the fire you will keep the window open, which will add greatly to the needed ventilation. But more than his, with the fire you will have fewer bedclothes over you, which is a gain, as a large number of blankets not only interferes somewhat with the circulation and respiration, but prevents the escape of those gases which the skin is constantly emitting. Even furnace or stove heat with an open window is better than a close, cold room. Interchange with the external atmosphere depends upon the difference between the temperature of the air within and that without. But let us have the open fire. Let us go without. But let us have the open fire. Let us go without silks, broadcloths, carpets, and finery of all kinds, if necessary, that we may have this beautiful purifier and diffuser of joy in all our houses. In my own house I have ten open grates and find with coal at eleven dollars the expense is frightful, and if it were in any other department of housekeeping I should feel I could not afford it; but in this I do not flinch, so important do I deem the open fire. Dr. Lewis.

 

Published in: on September 24, 2014 at 6:04 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

Sept 10th, 1861

The economy of crinoline is thus discussed by a French writer: – Dresses require, to be worn over hoop s, at least three meters more than would be needed if worn over an ordinary skirt. As no less than twenty millions of ladies’ dresses are made every year in France, the additional quantity of material necessitated by the use of hoops is sixty millions of meters, which, taken at an average price of two francs per meter, makes a sum of one hundred and twenty millions of francs. In addition must be mentioned the extra quantity of material employed in the manufacture of the hooped petticoat itself, and the long, ample underskirt worn between the crinoline and the dress. This extra material can not be counted at less than one hundred and twenty millions more. The average cost of the hoops and the making of the cages can not be taken at less than an average of fifteen and fifty millions to be added to the cost of the woven goods calculated above. These three sums together make up a tribute of three hundred and ninety millions francs, or about one-fifth of the State Budget, paid yearly to a ridiculous and inconvenient fashion.

 

Published in: on September 10, 2014 at 6:02 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

Aug 27th 1864

Dried Fruits for Soldiers

The following letter from a lady to the New York Tribune, who has been an army nurse needs no endorsement – it needs only to be read.

“I noticed with pleasure to-day your remarks calling attention to those living in the country to a simple way of drying currants, &c., for the use of the soldiers, both sick and well. This matter should receive wide attention – acid fruit being a necessity for those who live on the unvarying “ration” in a warm climate, also counteract the brackish water they are often obliged to drink. Currants, raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, whortleberries, grapes, plums and pie-plant, cut into pieces and stewed in its own juice, are all equally good saved in this way, and more desired than jellies and preserves, besides being easier made and cheaper now, considering the price of sugar, so that there is every reason why all our good women should take hold of this work.

“When dried, the fruit is saved in strong paper bags, or those made of old muslin. A little of the dried fruit put in his tin cup and hot water poured on, with a trifle more sugar, makes a home-like relish for the hard tack to the weary and worn soldier after hard service in the field of on picket. Would that all “the boys” laying in the trenches before Petersburg could have a supply of what they so much need for health, and which every woman would gladly prepare where the idea suggested to her. In neighborhoods where a profusion of the small fruits can be had for the picking, not a quart of them should be allowed to go to waste while this war lasts. Thousands of valuable lives would be saved could the men have what they so greatly crave, “something sour.”

The good ladies in Orange county also prepare a refreshing drink from currant juice, which is a next to lemons in value. To one quart of currant juice add one pound of sugar, and boil and skim; this keeps all the year in bottles or kegs. Other acid juice, also, could be prepared with little trouble, and raspberry vinegar is eagerly asked for by female nurses for their wounded patients in Southern hospitals.

 

Published in: on August 27, 2014 at 6:01 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

August 20th, 1864

What Makes a Lady

When Beau Brummel was asked what made the gentleman, his quick reply was, “Starch, starch, my lord!” This may be true; but it takes a great deal more to make a lady; and though it may to some seem singular, I am ready to maintain that no conceivable quantity of muslin, silk or satin, edging, frilling, hooping, flouncing, or furbelowing, can per se, or per dressmaker, constitute a real lady.

Was not Mrs. Abbot Lawrence just as much a lady when attired in twelve-cent calico, in Boston, as when arrayed in full court dress at St. James, London? “As Mrs. Washington was said to be so grand a lady,” says a celebrated English visitor, (Mrs. Troupe,) “we thought we must put our best bibs and bands, so we dressed ourselves in our most elegant ruffles and silks, and were introduced to her ladyship, and don’t you think we found her knitting, and with her check apron on! She received us very graciously and easily, but after compliments were over she resumed her knitting. There we were without a stitch of work and sitting in stat, but, Gen. Washington’s Lady, with her own hands, was knitting stockings for her husband.” Does that not sweet republican simplicity command your admiration?

 

Published in: on August 20, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

August 6th, 1864

Dried Fruit for Soldiers

Mrs. E. J. Roberts, Secretary of the Soldiers Aid Society, New Haven, Mass., has issued the following circular:

Dried Fruit vs. Jellies. – As the time of fruits has again come round, we would remind our friends in town and country that the Sanitary Commission has expressed a decided preference for dried fruits, instead of jellies, for the army, on account of the waste and breakage from fermentation during the heat of the summer, and the difficulties of packaging. The high price of sugar is an additional recommendation to dried fruit. The following recipes are considered good:

Fruit dried with sugar, &c., – to a pound of currants put a quarter pound of sugar. Boil together for a minute – that is, let them just come to the boiling – spread them on plates and set them in the sun for two days; then if they are not sufficiently dried, set them in the oven for a little while. When dry, they can be packed in stone or earthen jars, or wooden boxes.

Blackberry Cordial – Put your berries into a jar, which must be set into a kettle of water to boil for a few minutes; then extract the juice as you do for currant jelly. To a pint of juice put a pound of sugar and a small teacup of brandy. It does not need boiling again, and is fit for use immediately.

Another – To one quart of blackberry juice put a tablespoonful of ground cloves, cinnamon and allspice; boil ten or fifteen minutes, then add a half pound of sugar, and when cool a half pint of alcohol, to which should be added nearly the same amount of water.

 

*I find it interesting, and a bit annoying, that the writer encourages dried fruits, but only includes one recipe. While there is an additional column coming up, I will try to find some additional dried fruit recipes.

 

The Dress Question

[We have sundry communications on this question which indicated the current opinion on the subject, and we give such of them as we can find room for in this number of the Rural.]

Eds. Rural New-Yorker: – As the subject of dress is being discussed through the columns of the Rural, I should like to say a few words to the ladies. I am not going to talk to those who sit idly in parlors, or spend their time in useless employ; except to simply say, keep still, ‘tis none of your business what those wear who see fit to do their duty.

I advocate dress reform. I have worn short dresses for the past three years, and find them much more convenient than the long trailing dresses, which require one hand to keep them from under the feet, and out of slops and mud, thereby leaving but one hand entirely free to work with. I think those who have worn short dresses will agree with me in saying they are a great saving, in both time and patience. I have done more work within the last three years than I could possibly have done had I been obliged to have kept one hand occupied in taking care of long skirts. And, sisters, noble women of the North, now is the time to work if we ever do; while our brothers are fighting for the Union, we should not sit idly down and wait for the victory, but do our duty, and do it faithfully, as become the women of such a nation.

A word to the gentlemen and I close. Gentlemen, I do not advocate short dresses anywhere but at home, at work. At church and on the street, I think long dresses much more becoming, and wear them myself. Short ones are only for work; have you any objections to them there? If you have, I would suggest that you put on long skirts, and wear them for one week, wash, mop, milk, work in the garden, and if necessary help plant corn. If you don’t lay them aside at the end of the week and say ladies, wear short dresses to work in by all means, you have more patience than falls tot helot of most mortals. Stellie. Prarie Home, Mich,. 1864

 

Published in: on August 6, 2014 at 6:00 am  Comments (3)  
Tags:

Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

July 23rd, 1864

Sensible Talk About Waltzing

Waltzing is a profane and vicious dance always. When it is prosecuted in the center of a great crowd, in a dusty hall, on a warm and summer day, it is also a disgusting dance. Night is its only appropriate time. The blinding, dazzling gas light throws a grateful glare over the salient points of its indecency, and blends the whole into a wild whirl that dizzies and doses one; but the uncompromising afternoon, pouring in through the manifold windows, tears away every illusion, and reveals the whole coarseness and commonness and all the repulsive details of this most alien and unmaidenly revel. The very pose of this dance is profanity.

Attitudes which are the instinctive expression of intimate emotions, glowing rosy red in the auroral time of tenderness and unabashed freedom only by a long and faithful habitude of unselfish devotion, are here openly, deliberately and carelessly assumed by the people who have but a casual and partial society acquaintance. This I reckon profanity. This is levity the most culpable. This is a guilty and wanton waste of delicacy. That it is practiced by good girls and tolerated by good mothers, does not prove that it is good. Custom blunts the edge of many perceptions. A good thing soiled may be redeemed by good people; but waltz as much as you may, spotless maidens, you will only smut yourselves, and not cleanse the waltz. It is itself unclean.

There is another thing which girls and their mothers do not seem to consider. The present mode of dress renders waltzing almost as objectionable in a large room as the boldest feats of a French ballet-dancer. Not to put too fine a point on it, I mean that these girls’ gyrations, in the center of their gyrating and centrifugal hoops, makes a most operatic drapery display. I saw scores and scores of public waltzing girls last summer, and among them I saw but one who understood the art, or, at any time, who practiced the art of avoiding an indecent exposure. In the glare and glamour of gas-light it is only flash and clouds and indistinctness. In the broad and honest daylight it is not. Do I shock ears polite? I trust so. If the saying of shocking things might prevent the doing of shocking things I should be well content. And is it an unpardonable thing for me to sit alone in my own room and write about what you go into a great hall, before hundreds of strange men and women, and to?

I do not speak thus about waltzing because I like to say it; but ye have compelled me. If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. I respect and revere woman, and I can not see her destroying or debasing the impalpable fragrance and delicacy of her nature and without feeling the shame and shudder in my own heart. Great is my boldness of speech toward you, because great is my glory of you. My opinions may be rustic – they are at least honest; and may it not be that the first impressions of any unprejudiced observer are as likely to be natural or correct views as these which are the result of many after-thoughts, long use, and an experience of multifold fascinations, combined with the original producing cause? My opinions may be wrong, but they can do no harm; they penalty will rest alone on me; while if they are right they may serve as a nail or two, to be fastened by the masters of assemblies. At. Monthly.

 

Published in: on July 23, 2014 at 6:05 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags:

Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

July 23rd, 1864

Female Independence

In the present age of the world, as, indeed, in all ages, female self-dependence and independence, are very seldom constitutes of the female character – the lack of which no intellectual nor moral accomplishment can supply. The modern female born and reared the younger portion of her life, perhaps, in the home circle, and when she has attained a proper age, is transported to a fashionable boarding school, where she may expand her intellect to the supposed utmost limits – where she attains, in her opinion, to the highest degree of female excellence, and enters upon the cares and vicissitudes of life. But upon departing from the parental roof, how very seldom has she been found to possess the most substantial basis of female honor and respect, vis: Independence!

In is conclusively proved that the female mind, if left unchained and free from all common lady traits, is capable of as broad expansion, and as sound thoughts, as the opposite sex; and although they have been heretofore the subjects of ridicule, and sometimes of public amusement on account of their innumerable foolish weaknesses and foibles – yet, by self-culture and independence of mind to resist the tempting allurements of the fashionable worl, and obey the dictates of common sense and sound judgment, they may lay up a store of information and science, which they now can not appreciate, because of their fondness of novels and fictitious writings, which they can summon to their use at all times, and which will prove a passport through cultivated society, more reliable and more respected than mere external beauty.

How common a circumstance it is to see young and middle-aged female puffed up with price and self-exaltation, who have not independence sufficient to oppose public opinion, but are guided wholly by the opinions of others and prevailing fashion! And how many devoted mothers sacrifice the comforts and even the necessaries of life to educate and accomplish their daughters, in whom, perhaps, there is not the least hope of future usefulness. It is a lamentable fact that the majority of females at the present day, have no more exalted view or aim in life than their own personal gratification in the way of dress and food, and allow their minds to grow gradually weaker until they are entirely engrossed in idle gossip or the most trivial subjects of earth.

But it may be asked how can this defect in female character be remedied? By simply turning our attention from trifles, applying our energy and zeal to some purer mental and moral excellence than is generally stained by those who are termed ladies.

If this great, visible defect could be supplied in the female mind, the world would be freed of a vast amount of female gossip and dependence upon others, and their views of life would be exalted; they would strive to emulate those who are worthy, and ere long the great fact would illumine their dependent minds, that by a little exertion on their part, a little more genuine thought, they might release themselves from  the fetter of entire dependence on male intellect, and gain such a store of knowledge as will be their guide and support at all times without the overseeing hand of man.

It is to be hoped that before many generations shall pass, females will avail themselves of independent minds, and stand before the world in the highest sense, ladies. A. Aikin. Tekonsha, Mich., 1864

 

Published in: on July 23, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: