Friday, August 24, 2007

The Footman's Directory and Butler's Remembrancer (Book #83)

As I continue to research the life and duties of servants ~200 years ago for my WIP, I just finished reading The Footman's Directory and Butler's Remembrancer (by "Onesimus," 1823, reprinted in 1998). Fascinating stuff, and more reminders of how much work it was to live 200 years ago! What surprised me a bit, though it shouldn't have in an Advice to Young Men book of this sort, is how thoroughly the author accepts the then-current idea that God has assigned us all to our stations in life and that we must be content in them. I always figured the gentry and the nobility were the only ones who actually BELIEVED all that, since their "assigned station" was so pleasant and convenient, and that the "lower orders" might have given lip service to the concept to keep the peace, but that deep down they knew better. I know I'm being very 21st-century American here, but it's just hard for me to believe, deep down, that anyone ELSE could believe they deserved anything less than the best they could earn on their own merit.

On a lighter note...there's a section of recipes, cleaning tips, household remedies, etc. Some of them are fascinating. I'd love to try old-fashioned ginger- or spruce-beer, for example. But I'm baffled by toast-and-water. Basically, you take stale bread, toast it fairly dark, put it in a jug and fill it with boiling water. When the water is quite cold, you then strain it through a sieve and drink it. I'm completely failing to see the appeal of that one...

No comments: