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Monday, 4 April 2011

Some Advice from Great Granny!

Here I have a Family Herald Handy Book entitled HInts on The Toilette with advice on the improvement and preservation of the skin, teeth, eyes, hair, hands, and feet.

Well we could all do with a bit of that I'm sure!

The Skin
On considering the quantity of waste matter continually carried to the the surface of the skin, which, if not removed, will inevitably impede its function, we cannot fail to see the necessity for daily and thorough ablution.  The minute dry scales cast off as waste or refuse from the outer skin, instead of falling away, are kept in contact with the surface of the body, and, becoming amalgamated with the secretions of the skin, form a thin unctuous crust, to which soot, dust, and other particles from the atmosphere, and from our dress, adhere, encasing the entire body with impurities.

If this coating be suffered to remain, the result will be injurious in many ways.  First, the perspiratory pores being obstructed, their function must necessarily be performed by some other organ, which in consequence being overworked, will probably become weak and disordered.  Secondly, the skin will be subject to irritation, both mechanically and chemically, occasioning eruptions; while the saline particles detained on its surface, by their affinity for moisture, will keep it damp and cold, and thus tend to engender diseases by the effect of cold on the system.  Thirdly, it is probably that the pellicle of foreign substances on the skin may form a medium for the detention of poisonous gases, or miasmatic and infectious vapours, which, being absorbed into the system, will be productive of injurious consequences.

Well, Ladies.  I don't know the date of this publication as it is not written on it, however I surmise it to be early to mid Victorian - especially with the references to disease being carried on miasmas.  And apart from the obvious fact that it is a good thing to wash or cleanse daily I don't think we can put much credence in the 'science' behind it.  What is fascinating is that we take it for granted that everyone knows they should wash or cleanse every day... this little book takes it for granted that many people do not know that they should wash or cleanse every day. 

The Eye
Although art has discovered several means of giving lustre to the eye, none can rival nature, and the false lustre, though beautiful, is but transient and injurious.  The most common thing used is belladonna, which cannot be too highly decried.  Health alone, with frequent ablution in cold spring water, or rose-water diluted, will give lustre to the eyes, and those using artificial means will pay for it in after years.

It is hard to believe that girls would go to such lengths as putting a poisonous substance into their eyes... or is it?  I feel the same sense of horror when I hear the word Botox.  In some ways the world has not changed at all, actually that is not true, the world has changed a great deal.  People haven't.

And finally... a recipe from the same book that I approve of.

Eau De Cologne, or Cologne Water 
Take rectified spirits of wine, or the best unsweetened French brandy, one pint; oil of neroly, three-quarters of a drachm (45 drops); oil of rosemary, half a drachm; camphor, half a drachm: one ounce each of oil of lemon-peel and orange-peel; half an ounce of pure bergamot.  Keep the ingredients together for a month; it is then fit for use.

Indeed this will make a very nice, refreshing cologne.  Anyone remember 4711?  Well this would work in a similar way.  You put it on your handkerchief and then wipe your brow or your neck with it and it is delicously cooling in hot weather, as well as being freshly scented.  No, you don't smell of the French Brandy, well not if you have made it correctly you don't.

This particular recipe would be very pricey to recreate (I can't but think it would have been pricey during the 1800's too) but somewhere in among all my books and papers I have a recipe for a modern equivalent... I will see if I can find it for next time.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! - Old books are so interesting; I love their language and the insight they give into everyday life of the past. I use a dressmaking book from the 1960s for all of my pattern making!


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