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Title: Home Amusements
Author: Sherwood, M. E. W. (Mary Elizabeth Wilson)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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_ADVERTISEMENTS._


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                Gatherings from an Artist’s Portfolio.

                         By JAMES E. FREEMAN.

                _One volume, 16mo._      _Cloth $1.25._

“The gifted American artist, Mr. James E. Freeman, who has for many
years been a resident of Rome, has brought together in this tasteful
little volume a number of sketches of the noted men of letters,
painters, sculptors, models, and other interesting personages whom he
has had an opportunity to study during the practice of his profession
abroad. Anecdotes and reminiscences of Thackeray, Hans Christian
Andersen, John Gibson, Vernet, Delaroche, Ivanoff, Gordon, the Princess
Borghese, Crawford, Thorwaldsen, and a crowd of equally famous
characters, are mingled with romantic and amusing passages from the
history of representatives of the upper classes of Italian society,
or of the humble ranks from which artists secure the models for their
statues and pictures.”--_New York Tribune._

“‘An Artist’s Portfolio’ is a charming book. The writer has gathered
incidents and reminiscences of some of the master writers, painters,
and sculptors, and woven them into a golden thread of story upon
which to string beautiful descriptions and delightful conversations.
He talks about Leslie, John Gibson, Thackeray, and that inimitable
writer, Father Prout (Mahony), in an irresistible manner.”--_New York
Independent._

          New York: D. APPLETON & CO., 1, 3, & 5 Bond Street.



                        Appletons’ Home Books.

                           HOME AMUSEMENTS.

                            By M. E. W. S.,
                  AUTHOR OF “AMENITIES OF HOME,” ETC.

    “There be some sports are painful; and their labour
    Delight in them sets off.”

    “Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves;
    And ye that on the sands with printless foot
    Do chase the ebbing Neptune, and do fly him,
    When he comes back!”

                          I do invoke ye all.

                               NEW YORK:
                       D. APPLETON AND COMPANY,
                       1, 3, and 5 BOND STREET.
                                 1881.



                             COPYRIGHT BY
                       D. APPLETON AND COMPANY,
                                 1881.



CONTENTS.


      PAGE

     I.--PREFATORY                                         5

    II.--THE GARRET                                        7

   III.--PRIVATE THEATRICALS, ETC.                         9

    IV.--TABLEAUX VIVANTS                                 20

     V.--BRAIN GAMES                                      25

    VI.--FORTUNE-TELLING                                  37

   VII.--AMUSEMENTS FOR A RAINY DAY                       45

  VIII.--EMBROIDERY AND OTHER DECORATIVE ARTS             50

    IX.--ETCHING                                          64

     X.--LAWN TENNIS                                      67

    XI.--GARDEN PARTIES                                   77

   XII.--DANCING                                          86

  XIII.--GARDENS AND FLOWER-STANDS                        93

   XIV.--CAGED BIRDS AND AVIARIES                        104

    XV.--PICNICS                                         112

   XVI.--PLAYING WITH FIRE. CERAMICS                     117

  XVII.--ARCHERY                                         124

 XVIII.--AMUSEMENTS FOR THE MIDDLE-AGED AND THE AGED     131

   XIX.--THE PARLOR                                      135

    XX.--THE KITCHEN                                     140

   XXI.--THE FAMILY HORSE AND OTHER PETS                 144

  XXII.--IN CONCLUSION                                   148



HOME AMUSEMENTS.



I.

PREFATORY.


Goethe, in “Wilhelm Meister,” struck the key-note of the universal
underlying dramatic instinct. The boy begins to play the drama of life
with his puppets, and afterward exploits the wild dreams of youth in
the company of the strolling players. We are, indeed, all actors. We
all know how early the strutting soldier-instinct crops out, and how
soon the little girl assumes the cares of the amateur nursery.

    “I have learned from neighbor Nelly
        What the girl’s doll-instinct means.”

We begin early to play at living, until Life becomes too strong for us,
and, seizing us in merciless and severe grip, returns our condescension
by making of us the puppets with which the passing tragedy or comedy is
presented. With this idea in mind we have begun our little book with
the play in the garret--the humblest attempt at histrionics--and so
going on, still endeavoring to help those more ambitious artists who,
in remote and secluded spots, may essay to amuse themselves and others
by attempting the _rôle_ of a Cushman, a Wallack, a Sothern, a Booth,
or a Gilbert.

Our subsequent task has been a more difficult one. To tell people how
to give all sorts of entertainments--in fact, to tell our intelligent
people how to do anything--is nearly as foolish a practice as to carry
coals to Newcastle, and implies that sort of conceit which Thackeray
so wittily suggests when, in his “Rebecca and Rowena,” he presents the
picture of a little imp painting the lily. It is hard to know where
to draw the line. It would be delightful to amuse--to help along with
the great business of making home happy--to tell a mother what to do
with her active young brood, and yet to avoid that dreadful bore of
mentioning to her something which she already knows a great deal better
than we do.

The Scylla of barrenness and the Charybdis of garrulity are before any
author who tries to speak upon a familiar theme. Let us hope that,
through the kindness of our readers, we may not have wrecked our little
bark on either.



II.

THE GARRET.


Happy the children who have inherited a garret! We mean the good
old country garret, wherein have been stowed away the accumulations
of many generations of careful housewives. The more worthless these
accumulations, the better for the children. An old aunt who saved all
the old bonnets, an old uncle who had a wardrobe of cast-off garments
to which he had appended the legend,

    “Too poor to wear, too good to give away--”

these are the purveyors to the histrionic talents of nations yet
unborn. Old garrets are really the factories of History, Poetry, and
the Drama.

Into such a garret crept the lame little Walter Scott, and what
did he not bring out of it! Talk of the lumber of a garret and the
accumulations of a house, and you mention to the thoughtful the gold
and diamond mines of a future literature. A bright boy or girl will
unearth many a pearl of price from those old trunks, those dilapidated
bureau-drawers, those piles of old love-letters, those garments of the
past, that broken-down guitar, that stringless violin, that too-reedy
flute. The taste for old furniture has rather emptied the garret of
its time-honored chairs and old clocks, but there is still in its
ghost-haunted corners quite enough goblin tapestry for the fancy of the
growing child.

A country home is, of course, the most precious possession a child can
have--a country home in which his ancestors have lived for years, and
which has a large garret, a capacious cellar, and several barns. One
might wish that every child might be born in Salem or Plymouth, or near
one of those old settlements. But as that would be quite impossible,
considering the acres which we are compelled to cover as a nation,
we may as well see what can be done, in the way of Home Amusements,
with the garret as well as the parlor. The garret, in both town and
country, has been the earliest home of the legitimate drama since the
first youthful aspirant for histrionic honors strapped on the sock and
buskin. A good country barn has also been sometimes the scene not only
of the strolling but of the resident player.



III.

PRIVATE THEATRICALS; ACTING PROVERBS AND CHARADES.


Wherever the amateur actor pitches his tent or erects his stage, he
must consider wisely the extraneous space behind the acting arena
necessary for his exits and entrances, and his theatrical properties.
In an ordinary house the back parlor, with two doors opening into the
dining-room, makes an ideal theatre; for the exits can be masked, and
the space is specially useful. One door opening into a large hall is
absolutely necessary, if no better arrangement can be made. The best
stage is, of course, like that of a theatre, with areas all around and
behind it, so that the actors have a space to retire into. This is
difficult in a parlor, unless it be a very large one. The difficulty,
however, has been and will be solved by the ingenious. Drawing up the
big sofa in front of the footlights, and arranging a pair of screens
and a curtain, has often served well for a parlor play.

It is hardly necessary to say that all these arrangements for a play
depend, in the first place, on the requirements of the play itself and
its legitimate business, which may demand a table, a bureau, a piano,
a fireplace, etc. And here we would say to the youthful actor, Select
your play at first with a view to its requiring little change of scene,
and not much furniture. A young actor needs space; he is embarrassed by
too many chairs and tables. Then, again, choose a play which has so
much varied incident in it that it will, as it is said, “play itself.”
Of this branch of our subject we will treat later.

The first thing to be built is the stage. Any carpenter will lay a few
stout boards on end-pieces, which are simply squared joists, and for
very little money will take away the boards and joists afterward; or
a permanent stage can be built for a few dollars. Sometimes ingenious
boys build their own stage with old boxes; but this is apt to be
dangerous. Very few families are without an old carpet, which will
serve for a stage-covering; and, if this is lacking, green baize is
very cheap. A whole stage-fitting--curtains and all--can be made of
green cambric; but it is better to have all the stuffs of woolen, for
the danger from fire is otherwise great. Footlights may be made of tin,
with pieces of candle put in; or a row of old bottles of equal height,
with candles stuck in the mouth, make a most admirable and very cheap
set of footlights. The mother, an elder brother, or some one with
judgment, should see to all these things, or the play may be spoiled by
an accident.

The curtain is always a trouble. A light wooden frame should be made
by the carpenter; firm at the joints, and as high as the stage, to the
front part of which it should be attached. This frame forms three sides
of a square, and the curtain must be firmly nailed to the top-piece.
A stiff wire should be run along the lower edge of the curtain, and a
number of rings be attached to the back of it in squares--three rows
of four rings each, extending from top to bottom. Three cords are now
fastened to the wire, and, passing through the rings, are run over
three pulleys on the upper piece of the frame. It is well for all young
managers of garret theatres to get up one of these curtains, even if
they have to hire an upholsterer to help them. The draw-curtain never
works surely, and often hurts the _dénoûment_ of the play. In the case
of the drop-curtain which we have described, one person holds all the
ends of the cords, tied together; and, on pulling this, the curtain
goes up and down as if by magic, and rarely gets out of order, which is
a great gain.

Now as for stage properties. Almost any household, or any
self-respecting garret, will hold enough of “things.” If it does
not, let the young actors exercise their ingenuity in making up,
with tinsel-paper and other cheap material, all that they will want.
Turnips, properly treated with a jackknife, have heretofore served for
Yorick’s skull in the great play of “Hamlet.” A boy who knows how to
paint can, on a white cotton background, with a pot of common black
paint, indicate a scene. If he be so fortunate as to know a kindly
theatrical manager who will let him for once go behind the scenes, he
will find that the most splendid effects are gained by a very small
outlay.

As for the theatrical wardrobe, that is a very easy matter, if the
children have an indulgent and tasteful mother, who will help a little
and lend her old finery.

A brigand’s costume (and brigands are very convenient theatrical
friends) is easily arranged. Procure a black felt hat, fastened up
with a shoe-buckle; a bow and a long feather; a jacket, on which Fanny
will sew some brass buttons; one of mamma’s or sister’s gay scarfs,
tied round the waist several times; an old pair of pantaloons, cut off
at the knee, and long stockings, tied up with scarlet ribbons; a pair
of pumps, with another pair of buckles, and any old pair of pistols,
dirks, or even carving-knives, stuck in the belt, and you have, at very
small expense, a fierce brigand of the Abruzzi.

Girls’ dresses are still easier of attainment. But the great trouble in
the dressing of girls for their characters is the frequent inattention
to the time and style of the character. A young lady who plays the part
of Marie Antoinette must remember the enormous hoops which were a part
of the costume of the unlucky queen. She must not be content to merely
powder her hair. She must remember time, place, circumstance, and dress
herself accurately, if she wishes to produce a proper dress. A lady
once wore in the part of Helen of Troy, for private theatricals in New
York, a pair of high-heeled French slippers, with the classic _peplum_.
A gentleman of archæological tastes declared that he could not stay in
a house where such crimes were committed against historical accuracy!
She should have worn the classic sandal, of course--not modern black
slippers.

The “make-up” of a character requires study and observation. In
the painting and shading of faces, adaptation of wigs, application
of mustaches and whiskers, there is much to be done. A box of
water-colors, a little chalk, camel’s-hair pencils, a saucer of rouge,
a burnt cork, and some India ink, all are useful. If these can not be
got, one burnt cork, aided by a little flour, will do it all. Mustaches
can be made by borrowing mamma’s old discarded artificial curls,
cutting them off to a proper length, and gumming them on the upper lip.
The hair of a good old Newfoundland dog has served this purpose. A very
pretty little mustache can be painted with India ink. However, if near
a barber or a hair-dresser--or, still better, a costumer--it is well to
get ready-made mustaches, which come of all colors, already gummed. If
the make-up of an old man is required, study a picture of an old face,
and trace on your own face with a camel’s-hair pencil and India ink the
wrinkles, the lines of an aged countenance. Make a wig of white cotton
if you can not hire one of gray hair.

If a comic face is needed, stand before a glass and grin, _watch the
lines_ which the grin leaves, and trace them up with a reddish-brown
water-color. Put on rouge particularly about the nose and eyes. A
frown, a smile, a sneer, a simper, or a sad expression, can always be
painted by this process. The gayest face can be made sad by dropping a
line or two from the corners of the mouth and of the eyes.

For a ferocious brigand, cork the eyebrows heavily, and bring them
together over the eyes. If you wish to produce emaciation or leanness,
cork under the eyes, and in the hollow of the cheek (or make a hollow),
and under the lower lip. To make up a pretty girl, even out of a young
man’s face, requires only some rouge and chalk and a blonde wig. There
should be also a powdering about the eyebrows, ears, and roots of the
hair. There should be a heavy coat of powder on the nose, and after
the rouge is put on, a shower of powder over that. All will wash off
without hurting the complexion. For a drunkard or a villain, purple
spots are painted on chin, cheek, forehead, and nose.

The theatrical wardrobe, to be complete, should have several different
wigs, and as these can not be made well except by an artist in hair, we
recommend the actors to lay out all their spare cash on these adjuncts.
Having dressed for the part, the acting comes much more easily. No one
knows the effect of dress better than the real actor, who calls it “the
skin of the part.”

The lines to be spoken should be committed most thoroughly to memory.
Without this no play can be a success. Each performer should write out
his own part, with the “cues,” or the words which come directly before
his own speeches, and commit the whole to memory. When the performer
hears the words of the cue, the words of his own part come to his lips
immediately.

The exits and entrances, and what is known as “stage business,” are
always difficult to beginners. The necessity of closets, etc., in
a small stage, places to retire to, and the like, can be managed,
however, by screens, and these are so useful in all private theatricals
that one should be made, six feet high by three feet wide, hinged, and
covered with wall-paper, before any plays are attempted.

We are describing the very cheapest and most unsophisticated private
theatricals--such as those which school-boys and girls could get up in
the country, or in a city basement or garret, with very little money
or help from their parents. And these are the ones which give the most
pleasure. Expensive and adroitly-conducted theatricals, in a city where
experts can be hired to do these things, have no lasting charm. It is,
as in all other things, _the amount of ourselves_ which we put into
anything which makes us enjoy private theatricals. And in a city, grown
people have the privilege of the best theatricals, beside which all
amateur efforts are lamentably tame. But a party of fresh young people,
full of the ichor of youth, can with the slightest help produce the
most delightful effects with very simple means.

Young girls are too apt, in playing private theatricals, to sacrifice
character to prettiness. Now this is a fatal mistake. To dress a
part with finikin fineness, which is to be a representation of quite
different sorts of qualities, is poor art. Let them rather imitate Miss
Cushman’s rags in Meg Merrilies, or Bastian Le Page’s homely peasant
simplicity in Joan of Arc. Remember, the drama is the mirror of nature,
and should produce its strong outlines and its deep shadows. It is in
this realism that men surpass women. The college theatricals, in which
all parts are played by men, are by far the best.

In selecting a play, amateurs should try and find one, as we have
said, which “plays itself.” They should not attempt those delicate and
very difficult plays which only great artists can make amusing. They
should select the play which is full of action and situation, like “The
Follies of a Night,” or “Everybody’s Friend.” The most commonplace
actors fail to spoil such plays as these; and there are for younger
performers hundreds of good plays, farces, and musical burlesques
to be found at every book-store. “Naval Engagements,” “A Cure for
the Fidgets,” “The Two Buzzards,” “Betsey Baker,” “Box and Cox,” “A
Regular Fix,” “Incompatibility of Temper,” “Ici l’on parle Français,”
“To oblige Benson,” are among the many which really help the amateur,
instead of crushing him.

But no one who is not a first-rate actor should attempt “Two can play
at that Game,” “A Morning Call,” “A Happy Pair,” or any of those
beautiful French trifles which look so easy, and in the hands of good
actors are so charming, for they depend upon the most delicate shades
of acting to make them even passable.

For those players of a larger growth, who attempt the very interesting
business of amateur theatricals on a more ambitious plane, we can
illustrate our meaning as to plays which “play themselves” by two
instances:

“Ici l’on parle Français” gives the two amusing situations of a man
who is trying to speak French with the aid of a phrase-book, and the
counterpoise of a Frenchman who is trying to speak English in the same
fragmentary manner. Their mutual mistakes keep the house in a roar; and
almost any clever pair of young men can assume these two characters to
great advantage. They each have an eccentric character mapped out for
them, and very little shading is necessary.

Again, for a very much more poetical and entirely different range of
part, but yet one which “plays itself,” we would suggest “Pygmalion
and Galatea,” Gilbert’s beautiful and poetical play. Here we have the
great novelty of a young lady disguised as a marble statue. She can be
“made up” with white powder and white merino drapery to look very like
a marble statue, and a powerful white lime-light should be thrown on
her from above. There is a tableau within a play to begin with, and
something novel and interesting. The marble statue, however, at the
very start becomes endowed with life, steps down from her pedestal,
walks forward to the footlights, talks, and receives the homage of a
lover. Now, almost any pretty and intelligent maiden can make this part
very interesting. She needs nothing but grace and a good memory to do
this Galatea well. The part plays itself.

The same young actress could not do Lady Teazle--that delightful and
intricate bit of acting, so dependent upon stage tradition and stage
training that old theatre-goers say that in fifty years only five
actresses have done it well. Still less could she approach the heroine
in the “Morning Call” or the young wife in “Caste.” These parts demand
the long, severe stage training of an accomplished artist. The Galatea
is assisted by the novelty of the position, by the fact that every
young maid is a marble statue, in one sense, until Love makes her a
woman, so that each person may give a strikingly individual portrait;
and, above all, it is a play which is a new creation, and therefore
capable of a new interpretation.

We do not advise amateurs to undertake Shakespeare, unless it be
“Katherine and Petruchio,” which is so gay and scolding that it
_almost_ plays itself.

The very beautiful comedies of Robertson seem very easy when one sees
Mr. Wallack’s company play them; but they are very difficult for
amateurs. They depend upon the most delicate shading, the highest art,
and the neatest finish.

The sterling old comedies--all excepting “The Rivals”--are almost
impossible, even those which are full of incident and full of costume.
Their quick movement seems to evade the player; and what is so terrible
to the listener as to endure even a second’s suspension in the “give
and take” of a comedy? “The Rivals,” strange to say, is a very good
play for amateurs.

Boucicault’s farces and society plays run very well on the amateur
stage. Lady Gay Spanker is not a difficult part. Bulwer’s “Lady of
Lyons” should never be attempted by amateurs. It becomes mawkishly
sentimental in their hands. But Charles Reade’s “Still Waters run Deep”
is excellent for amateurs; and “Money” runs off rather more easily than
one would suppose.

Amateurs are very fond of “A Wonderful Woman,” but we can not see
much in it. “The Wonder” is very picturesque. It is one of the plays
which plays itself; and the Spanish costumes are beautiful. The
famous comedies, “My Awful Dad,” “Woodcock’s Little Game,” and “The
Liar,” should be studied very thoroughly by observation and by book
before being attempted by amateurs. The “Little Game” has two very
hard parts to fill, Mrs. Colonel Carver and Woodcock; still it has
been done moderately well. For a parlor comedy, “The Happy Pair” is
a great favorite; and “Box and Cox” can be done by anybody, and is
always funny. Music helps along wonderfully, as witness the immortal
“Pinafore,” which has been played by amateurs to admiration for
hundreds of admiring audiences.

A stage manager is indispensable. In getting up ambitious plays in
a city, which the courageous amateur sometimes attempts, an actor
from the theatre is generally hired to “coach” the neophytes. In the
country, some intelligent friend should do this, and he can properly
be arbitrary. It is a case for an absolute monarchy. The stage
manager must hear his company read the play over first, and tell John
faithfully if he is better fitted for the part of the lackey rather
than that of the lover. He must disabuse Seraphina of the belief that
she either looks or can play the _ingenu_, and relegate her to the part
of the housekeeper. We all have our natural and acquired capabilities
for various parts, and can do no other.

Then, after reading the part, comes the rehearsal; and this is the
crucial test. The players must study, rehearse, rehearse, study,
and not be discouraged if they grow worse rather than better. There
is always a part lagging, and the dress rehearsal is invariably a
discouraging thing. But that is a most excellent and advantageous
discouragement if it inspire the actors to new efforts. Nothing can
spoil a private theatrical attempt like conceit and self-satisfaction.
The art is as difficult a one as playing on the violin; and, although
an amateur may learn to play pretty well, the distance between him and
a professional is as great as that between an amateur violinist and
Vieuxtemps. The amateur must remember this fact.

“Acting proverbs” is an ingenious way of suggesting an idea by its
component parts rather than stating it outright. The parts are not
written, but merely talked over, and are often done by clever young
people on the spur of the moment. It is well, however, to consult
beforehand as to the argument of the play. The books are full of little
plays written upon such proverbs as “All is not Gold that Glitters,”
“Honor among Thieves,” “All is Fair in Love and War,” etc. But we
advise young people to take up less well-known proverbs, and to write
their own plays. They might learn one or two as a sort of exercise, but
the fresh outcrop of their own originality will be much better. The
same may be said with the acting of charades.

A dramatic charade is a very ingenious thing, and a very neat little
play in four acts can be made from the word AB-DI-CATE. A B, of course,
presents a school scene. And at a watering place, if some witty man
or woman will represent the schoolmaster or schoolmistress, all the
pupils can be the grown men and women who are well known. The entrance
of a fashionable mamma, her instantaneous effect on the severity of the
teacher, the taking off the fool’s-cap from the head of Master Tommy,
who has been in disgrace--all will cause laughter and an opportunity
for local jokes. This is Act I. Di can be represented by the _dyeing_
process of a barber who has to please many customers; or “The _die_ is
cast”; or an apposite allusion to Walter Scott’s “_Die_ Vernon”; or
some comico-tragico scene of “I can but _die_.” This is Act II. Cate,
to “_cater_,” “_Kate_”--for bad spelling is permitted--all these are
in order. This is Act III. The last act can be the splendid pageant of
a Turkish _Abdication_, in which a sultan abdicates in favor of his
son. All the camel’s-hair shawls, brilliant turbans, and jewelry of the
house and neighborhood can here be introduced with effect.

Charades in which negroes, Irish or German people, or anybody with a
dialect, enter in and form a part, are very amusing if the boys of the
family have a genius for mimicry. Amateur minstrels are very funny. The
getting up of a party of white men as black men is, however, attended
with expense. The gift of singing a comic song is highly appreciated in
the family circle of amateur dramatists, and a little piece with songs
is very sure to be acceptable.

If every member of the party will do what he can, without any
false shame, or any egotistical desire to outdo the others, if the
ready-witted will do what they can to help the slow-going, and if the
older members of the family will help along, these amusements will
cheer many a winter’s evening, many a long rainy week, and will improve
all who are connected with them; for memory and elocution, good manners
and a graceful bearing, are all included in the playing of charades,
proverbs, and the little dramas.



IV.

TABLEAUX VIVANTS.


We now come to one of the most artistic of all Home Amusements--the
_Tableau vivant_.

Lady Hamilton amused the people of her age, all over Europe, by playing
in a parlor very striking living pictures. All she asked was a corner
of the room, a heavy curtain behind her, and a few shawls and turbans.
Being a beautiful and graceful woman, with the dramatic instinct, she
gave imitations of celebrated statues and pictures, and was no doubt
aided by some very ingenious painting, which she knew how to apply to
her own fair face. The art she discovered is certainly worth trying in
the present age as an amusement.

The preparations for good tableaux should be somewhat elaborate. A
vista should be built and lined with dark-colored cloth; lights should
fall from the top, sides, and front, so as to avoid shadows. The
groups should be striking, the colors clear, and the attitudes simple.
Sometimes there are such wonderful and unpremeditated effects from
these living pictures that artists hold up their hands in despair; more
often they are ruined by shadows; the lights are not well arranged,
and the whole effect lacks elevation and meaning. It is difficult to
arrange a crowded tableau, but it can be done.

The principle of a picture--a pyramidal form--should be observed
closely in tableau. To secure this desirable object the persons in the
background must stand on elevations. Boxes covered with dark cloth,
so as to be unnoticeable, are the best of all devices, and the effect
of any object held up in the hand, as a scepter, a bird, a distaff,
or a wreath, must be carefully noted, as it may throw a shadow on the
picture in the background. There never was, or could be, a tableau
which did not have some weak spot, and these shadows are the faults
which most easily beguile; but they can be avoided.

A group of Puritans make into many very striking pictures. The costume
is beautiful and becoming; red cloth can be laid on the table or floor
to set off the grays; and the many picturesque incidents in our early
history form very pleasing subjects. It is a beautiful dress for women
and a dignified one for men--that gray dress and high ruff, that
broad hat, and plain, long gown. A group of young people might take a
winter’s amusement out of reading up the Puritan annals, and giving at
the Academy or in their own homes a series of Puritan tableaux.

A tableau can be given in parlors separated by folding-doors; but they
are not by any means as good as those for which a stage, vista and
footlights, flies and side-lights, are arranged. If there is a large
unused room, where these properties can stand, the result is very much
better. There should be a gauze curtain or one of black tarlatan, which
should have no seams in it, and this curtain should hang in front of
the stage all the time. The drop-curtain must be outside of this. The
gauze curtain serves as a sort of varnish to the picture, and adds to
the illusion.

Although the pure white light of candles, gas, kerosene, or lime-light
is the best for tableaux, very pretty effects are produced by the
introduction of colored lights, such as can be produced by the use
of nitrate of strontia, chlorate of potash, sulphuret of antimony,
sulphur, oxymuriate of potassa, metallic arsenic, and pulverized
charcoal. Muriate of copper makes a bluish-green fire, and many other
colors can be obtained by a little study of chemistry. Here are some
simple recipes:

To make a _red fire_.--Five ounces nitrate of strontia, dry, one and
a half ounces finely-powdered sulphur. Take five drachms chlorate
of potash and four drachms sulphuret of antimony and powder them
separately in a mortar; then mix them on paper, and, having mixed the
other ingredients, previously powdered, add these last, and rub the
whole together on paper. In use, mix a little spirits of wine with the
powder, and burn in a flat iron plate or pan.

A _green fire_ may be made by powdering finely and mixing well thirteen
parts flour of sulphur, five parts oxymuriate of potassa, two parts
metallic arsenic, three parts pulverized charcoal, seventy-seven
parts nitrate of baryta; dry it carefully, powder, and mix the whole
thoroughly. A polished reflector fitted on one side of the pan in which
this is burned will concentrate the light and cast a brilliant green
luster on the figures. A bluish-green fire may be produced by burning
muriate of copper finely powdered and mixed with spirits of wine. These
fires smell unpleasantly in the drawing-room; and equally good effects
may almost always be produced by colored globes, if the light is not
needed too quickly.

Sulphate of copper, when dissolved in water, will give a beautiful
_blue_ color. The common red cabbage gives three colors. Slice the
cabbage and pour boiling water on it; when cold, add a small quantity
of alum, and you have _purple_. Potash dissolved in the water will
give a brilliant _green_. A few drops of muriatic acid will turn the
cabbage-water into a _crimson_.

Then, again, if a ghostly look be required, mix common salt with
spirits of wine in a metal cup and set it upon a wire frame over a
spirit-lamp. When the cup becomes heated, and the spirits of wine
ignite, the other lights in the room should be extinguished, and that
of the spirit-lamp shaded in some way. The result will be that the
whole group will become like the witches in Macbeth,

    “That look not like the inhabitants of the earth,
    But yet are of it.”

This burning of common salt produces a very weird effect. It seems
that salt has some other properties than the conservative, preserving,
hospitable kind of quality which legend and the daily needs of mankind
have ascribed to it.

A very fine and artistic set of tableaux can be gotten up by reference
to such a great work as “Boydell’s Shakespeare,” if it happens to
be at hand. Also a study of fine engravings, such as one finds in
the “National Academy.” If these books are not attainable, almost
any pictorial magazine will furnish subjects. Or, if imagination is
consulted, construct a series out of Waverley, or from the but too
well known scenes of the French Revolution, or from George Eliot’s
delightful “Romola”--a book full of remarkable pictures, with the
additional charm of the old Florentine dress. Sometimes a very
impressive poem is given in tableaux, like Tennyson’s “Princess,” or,
the “Dream of Fair Women.” Then there are many artistic but rather
horrible surprises, as “The Head of John the Baptist,” which can be
“cut off” admirably by an intervening table, and so on; but nothing is
so good as a study of the fine groups of the best painters.

Venetian scenes, from Titian’s and Tintoretto’s pictures, can be
admirably represented in tableaux. The Italian wealth of color is
always impressive; and as engravings of these pictures are attainable,
it is well to represent them. Roman scenes are very effective, and
especially as Alma Tadema arranges them for us, with his fine feeling
for the antique.

The humor of Hogarth, aided as it is by the picturesque dress of his
day, can be represented in a tableau. But without some such aids
humor is generally lost in a tableau. There is not time for it. Some
of Darley’s groups, as, for instance, the illustrations of “Rip Van
Winkle,” are admirable, and would seem to contradict this statement,
for they are full of fun; but then--they are wonderfully well dressed.
That early Revolutionary dress, borrowed in part from the days of Queen
Anne, is very picturesque.

If there is some one in the group whose fine sense of the proprieties
of art can be trusted, the allegorical can be attempted. But the danger
is that the allegorical in art is generally ridiculous. Faith, Hope,
and Charity, Mercy and Peace, are better anywhere than in pictures.

The grotesque is always lost in a tableau, where there seems to be a
sort of æsthetic demand for the heroic, the refined, and the delicate.
A double action may be presented with very good effect; as in some
of those fancies of Retzsch and Ary Scheffer, where an angel bends
over a sleeping child, or a group, unknown to the actors in front,
is representing another picture behind. But the best effects are the
simplest. One should not attempt too much. The old example, called
“The Dull Lecture,” painted by Gilbert Stuart Newton, where a prosy
old philosopher is reading aloud to a pretty girl who is fast asleep,
is a case in point. That has been a favorite tableau for forty years,
nor are its charms yet done away with. Tableaux from Dickens have only
a moderate success, excepting, perhaps, the rather overdone “Christmas
Carol.” The dress is wanting in color and character.

Tableaux in which animals are introduced are sometimes very effective,
if stuffed bears and lions and tigers can be hired from a museum. A
fine tableau was once composed, from a French print, of the Queen
of Sheba’s visit to Solomon; but the camel on which that lofty lady
arrived was a piece of scene-painting done by a very clever artist, and
it would be difficult to improvise one.



V.

BRAIN GAMES.


We now come to the winter evening, and the pencil and paper.

It is a delightful feature of our modern civilization that books are
very cheap, and that the poets are read by everybody. That would be
a very barren house where one did not find Scott, Byron, Goldsmith,
Longfellow, Tennyson, Browning, Bret Harte, and Jean Ingelow. Very few
boys and girls can reach the age of sixteen without having committed to
memory some immortal poem of one of these most popular poets.

Therefore there would be no embarrassment if we asked the members of
any evening circle to write down three or four lines in the measure of
“Evangeline,” “Lady Clara Vere de Vere,” “The Corsair,” “The Traveler,”
“Marmion,” or “Hervé Riel,” “The Heathen Chinee,” or the pretty “Bird
Song” of Jean Ingelow. Not a parody only, however, but a parody
involving a certain idea or word.

In the great year of Coggia’s comet this game was thus played, and a
young man was requested to speak of the comet in the style of “Mother
Goose.” The result was as follows:

    “Sing a song of Coggia--
      Comet in the sky!
    Wonder if he’ll trouble us,
      Whip up you or I!
    When his tail is over,
      Then begin to crow;
    Four-and-twenty doctors,
      Tell us all you know!”

Another of the circle was directed to treat of the Wood Fire in the
measure of Tennyson’s “May Queen.” The result was the following:

    “If you’re snapping, snap out wisely, snap out wisely, burning wood!
    You would not snap so wildly if your drying had been good.
    Nor had I, sitting near you with the hearth-brush in my hand,
    Have found no peace in sitting, for fear of burning brand.”

This was declared to be too easy a game for such a wild and superfluous
supply of brains, and, therefore, the word _Poker_ was pronounced
to be an essential element of every future poem. Poor Browning and
Longfellow, Bret Harte and Walter Scott, were mercilessly spitted on
that poker. Much foolscap was spoiled, but much fun gained. Here is one
of the poker successes:


“AFTER BYRON, WITH A POKER; ALSO AFTER DRINKING FLIP.

      “Here, too, the Poker stands in brass! and fills
        The air around with safety! We inhale
      The ambrosial aspect which its heat instills
        (Part of its immortality) to Flip
      (That beer which is half drawn), within the cup
        We breathe, and its deep secrets dip.
    Who Flip can make--who cares where he may fail!
    Before its wide success let Heliogabalus turn pale.

      “We drink, and turn away--we care not where!
        Fuzzled, and drunk with porter, till the head
      Reels with its fullness. There, for ever there,
        Stand thou in triumph, Poker, strong and red!
      We are thy captives, and thine ardor share.
    Away! there need no words, no terms precise,
    To say in loving accents, Flip-cup, thou art nice!”

To this class of Home Amusements belongs also the famous game of
“Twenty Questions,” which was played so much at one time by the
Cambridge professors that they declared that any subject should be
reached in ten questions. The proper formula for this very intellectual
game is this: Two parties are formed, the questioners and the
answerers, the first having the privilege, after the word has been
chosen, to inquire--

“Is your subject animal, vegetable, or mineral?”

“What is its size?”

“To what age does it belong?”

“Is it historical or natural?”

“Is it ancient or modern?”

“Is it a manufactured article?” etc.

The number of subjects which are _none_ of these, or which _are all
three_, or which can not be defined in some way, is of course small.
Thus, a Blush, a Smile, a Tear, an Echo, an Avalanche, a Drought, are
all indescribable by the exact definitions of the above questions. But
the questioner soon arrives at this negative, and begins a new series.

Perhaps one of the most puzzling of subjects is a “mummy.” It fulfills
certain conditions, but not others; and the final question, “What is
its use?” and the answer, “It is used for fuel,” though true--for the
Arabs cook their dinners by them--does not at all cover the ground
of the supposed use of a mummy. The shield of Achilles, the Hole in
the Wall through which Pyramus and Thisbe kissed, have been asked and
guessed! A Bat baffled even the most ingenious twenty questioners,
while the Parlor into which the Spider invited the Fly was guessed.

It is a very intellectual and very amusing game, and those who play it
should be as honest as possible in their answers. If puns and wordy
equivoque are allowed, the game ceases to be legitimate.

Among games requiring memory and attention we may mention “Cross
Purposes,” “The Horned Ambassador,” “I love my Love with an A,”
“The Game of the Ring” (arithmetical), “The Deaf Man,” “The Goose’s
History.” “Story Play” consists in putting a chosen word into a
narrative so cleverly that it will not be readily guessed, although
several people tell different stories with the chosen word several
times repeated. The best way to play this is to have some odd word
which is _not_ the word--like _Banana_--and use it several times;
yet one’s own consciousness of the right word will often betray the
story-teller. “The Dutch Conceit,” “My Lady’s Toilet,” “What is my
Thought like?” “Scheherazade’s Ransom” are very pretty, and may be
found in many Manuals of Games. This last deserves a description.

Three of the company sustain the parts of the Sultan, the Vizier, and
the Princess Scheherazade. The Sultan takes his seat at the end of the
room, and the Vizier then leads the Princess before him, with her hands
bound behind her. The Vizier then makes a burlesque proclamation that
the Princess, having exhausted all her stories, is about to be punished
unless a sufficient ransom be offered. All the rest of the company
then advance in turn and propose enigmas, which must be solved by the
Sultan or Vizier; sing the first verse of a song, to which the Vizier
must answer with the second verse; or recite any well-known piece
of poetry in alternate lines with the Vizier. Forfeits must be paid
either by the company when successfully encountered by the Sultan or
Vizier, or by the Vizier when unable to respond to his opponents; and
the game goes on till the forfeits amount to any specified number on
either side. Should the company be victorious and obtain the greatest
number of forfeits, the Princess is released, and the Vizier has to
execute all the penalties that may be imposed upon him. If otherwise,
the Princess is led to execution. For this purpose she is blindfolded,
and seated on a low stool. The penalties for the forfeits, which should
be previously prepared, are written on slips of paper and put in a
basket, which she holds in her hands tied behind her. The owners of the
forfeits advance and draw each a slip of paper. As each person comes
forward, the Princess guesses who it is, and, if right, the person must
pay an additional forfeit, the penalty for which is to be exacted by
the Princess herself. When all the penalties have been distributed, the
hands and eyes of the Princess are released, and she then superintends
the execution of the various punishments that have been allotted to the
company.

Another very good game is to send one of the company out, and as he
comes in again to address him as the supposed character of Napoleon,
a Russian emperor, Gustavus Adolphus, or some well-known character in
history or fiction. For instance, a young lady leaves the room, and as
she enters some one says:

“Charming and noble heroine, most generous and most faithful! we are
glad to see you. How well you look, after all that has happened to you!
Burned alive? Yes, I should say so; and all that you suffered before!
How did you like wearing armor? and what do you think of ungrateful
kings? How was it at home before you left----? Did you really see those
visions? and how did St. ---- look? And, now that you are come back,
will you ever be so generous and noble as to fight for _any_ cause
except yourself?”

Of course, the young lady knows that she is Joan of Arc. But it is not
necessary that character should be so plainly indicated, however, as in
this example.

“The Echo” is another very pretty game. It is played by reciting some
little story, which Echo is supposed to interrupt whenever the narrator
pronounces certain words which recur frequently in his narrative. These
words relate to the profession or trade of him who is the subject of
the story. If, for example, the story is about a soldier, the words
which would recur the most frequently would naturally be “Uniform,”
“Gaiters,” “Chapeau bras,” “Musket,” “Plume,” “Pouch,” “Sword,”
“Saber,” “Gun,” “Knapsack,” “Belt,” “Sash,” “Cap,” “Powder-flask,”
“Accouterments,” and so on. Each one of the company, with the exception
of the person who tells the story, takes the name of Soldier,
Powder-flask, etc., except the name “Accouterments.” When the speaker
pronounces one of these words, he who has taken it for his name ought,
if the word has been said only once, to pronounce it twice; if it has
been said twice, to pronounce it once. When the word “Accouterments” is
uttered, the players--all except the soldier--ought to repeat again the
word “Accouterments” either once or twice.

These games are amusing, as showing how defective a thing is memory,
and how apt, when under fire, to desert us. It is also very queer to
mark the difference of character exhibited by the players. The most
unexpected revelations are made.

Another very funny game is “Confession by a Die,” played with cards and
dice. It would look at first like a parody on “Mother Church,” but it
is not so guilty. A person takes some blank cards, and, counting the
company, writes down a sin for each. The unlucky sinner when called
upon must not only confess, but, by throwing the dice also, confess as
many sins as they indicate, and do penance for them all. These can,
with a witty leader, be made very funny.

“The Secretary” is another good game. The persons sit at a table with
square pieces of paper, and pencils, and each one writes his own
name, handing the paper, carefully folded down, to the Secretary,
who distributes them, saying “Character!” Then each one writes out
an imaginary character, hands it again to the Secretary, who says
“Future!” The papers are again distributed, and the writers forecast
the future. Of course, the Secretary throws in all sorts of other
questions, and, when the game is through, the papers are read. They
form a curious and heterogeneous piece of reading. Sometimes such
curious bits of character-reading crop out that one suspects and dreads
complicity. But, if it is honestly played, the game is amusing.

Of Ruses and Catch-games, Practical Jokes, and all plays involving
mystification and mortification, we have a great abhorrence. They do
not belong to the class of Home Amusements. Let them be relegated
to that bad limbo of “college hazing,” and other ignoble tricks
which some people call fun. Far better the games which call for wit,
originality, and inspiration; which show knowledge, reading, and
a full _repertoire_; and a familiarity with all the three homely
studies--geography, arithmetic, and history, including natural history.
One of these games is called “The Traveler’s Tour,” and may be made
very interesting, if the leader is ingenious. It is played in this
way: One of the party announces himself the “Traveler.” He is given
an empty bag, and counters with numbers on are distributed among the
players. Thus, if twelve persons are playing, the numbers must count
up to twelve--a set of _ones_ to be given to one, _twos_ to two, and
so on. Then the Traveler asks for information about the places to
which he is going. The first person gives it, if he can; if not, the
second, and so on. If the Traveler considers it correct information,
or worthy of notice, he takes from the person one of his counters,
as a pledge of the obligation he is under to him. The next person in
order takes up the next question, and so on. After the Traveler reaches
his destination, he empties his bag, and sees to whom he has been
indebted for the greatest amount of information. He then makes him the
next Traveler. Of course, this opens the door for all sorts of witty
rejoinders, as the players choose to exaggerate the claims of certain
hotels, the geographical position of places, and the hits at such a
place as Long Branch, for instance, by describing it as an “inland
spot, very retired, where nobody goes,” etc., etc. Or it can be played
seriously, with the map of Europe or America in one’s memory. The
absurd way is, however, the favorite style with most, as in this wise:

_Traveler._ “I am going to Newport this summer. Which is the best
route?”

_Answer._ “Well, start by the Erie Railroad and try to form a junction
with the Pittsburg and Ohio.”

_Trav._ “When shall I get there?”

_An._ “If you take the Southern Pacific you may reach Newport before
the Fall River boat gets in” (sarcasm on the slowness of the boat).

_Trav._ “How if I go by the Northern Pacific?”

_An._ “Well, that is better than the _Wickford_ route.”

Or _Trav._ says: “I want to go to San Francisco; how shall I start?”

_An._ “Well, at the rate the Cunarders are going to Europe now, your
quickest way is to take the Gallia, and on reaching Liverpool to go to
India by the Overland Route, and so round the world.”

The rhyming game is also very amusing. It is done in this way:

_Speaker._ “I have a word that rhymes with _Game_.”

_Interlocutor._ “Is it something statesmen crave?”

_Sp._ “No, it is not _Fame_.”

_In._ “Is it something that goes halt?”

_Sp._ “No, it is not _Lame_.”

_In._ “Is it something tigers need?”

_Sp._ “No, it is not to _Tame_.”

_In._ “Is it what we all would like?”

_Sp._ “No, it is not _Good Name_.”

_In._ “Is it to shoot at Duck?”

_Sp._ “Yes, and that Duck to _maim_.”

Such words as Nun, Thing, Fall, etc., which admit of many rhymes, are
very good ones to choose. The two who play it must be quick-witted and
read each other’s thoughts.

The end rhymes, which the French like, are very ingenious.[A] Try
making a poem to fit these words, for instance, and you catch the idea:

    Town.      Lay.    Place.    Long.     Run.    Fame.    Rain.
    Renown.    May.    Space.    Wrong.    Sun.    Name.    Train.

The game of “Crambo,” in which each player has to write a noun on one
piece of paper and a question on another, is curious. As, for instance,
the drawer may get the noun “Mountain,” and the question, “Do you love
me?” he must write a sonnet or poem in which he answers the one and
brings in the other.

The game of “Preferences” has had a long and a successful career. It is
a very good addition to Home Amusements to possess a blank-book lying
on the parlor-table, in which each guest should be asked to write out
answers to the following questions:

    Who is your favorite hero in history?

    Who is your favorite heroine in history?

    Who is your favorite king in history?

    Who is your favorite queen in history?

    What is your favorite male Christian name?

    What is your favorite female Christian name?

    What is your favorite flower?

    What is your favorite color?

    What is your favorite style of music?

    What is your favorite style of climate?

    What is your favorite amusement?

    What is your favorite study?

    What is your favorite exercise?

    What is your favorite book?

    What is your favorite game? etc., etc.

These questions may be amplified according to the taste of the owner of
the book.

These books are very common in English country houses, and the
statistics of favoritism have been taken. Napoleon Bonaparte, even in
the land of the Duke of Wellington, had the greatest number of admirers
as a hero; Mary, Queen of Scots, was the favorite queen in a majority
of instances; Lord Byron led off as a poet, and the names Edward and
Alice had the greatest number of votes as admired Christian names. Joan
of Arc is always ahead as a heroine. In America, after a five years’
experience, a number of books were compared, and resulted in a close
tie between Washington and Napoleon as hero; between Charles X, of
Sweden, and Francis I as king; with Mary, Queen of Scots, far ahead
as queen; with Theodore and Mary as Christian names in advance. Yet
an occasional originality crops out in these “preferences,” and the
examination of the different opinions is always interesting.

The game of Authors, especially when created by the persons who wish
to play it, is very interesting. The game can be bought, and is a
very common one, as, perhaps, everybody knows; but it can be rendered
uncommon by the preparation of the cards among the members of the
family. There are sixty-four cards to be prepared, with each the name
of a popular author, and any three of his works. The entire set is
numbered from one to sixty-four. Any four cards containing the name
and works of the same author form a book. Thus, “Henry W. Longfellow,
‘Hyperion,’ ‘Evangeline,’ ‘New England Tragedies,’” would form one set.
As the shuffling and distribution of these cards, and the plan of also
drawing from a pile in the middle of the table, creates the greatest
uncertainty as to the whereabouts of a certain card, much amusement
can be derived in the effort to make a book. The cards must be equally
distributed one at a time, beginning at the left of the dealer. The
players then arrange their cards in the hand. If one finds four of a
kind, he immediately declares a book, and lays it face downward on
the table; and then, if holding one of the “Longfellow’s,” he will
say “Evangeline.” He can ask any other player for “Hyperion.” After
receiving either the card or a negative answer, the next player to the
left goes on with his play. Players can only call for such cards as
belong to books of which they hold a portion. Should a player call for
a card which he already holds, that card is forfeited to the person
of whom it was called. The caller always finds the name of the card
he wants among those printed in small type; the person of whom it is
called finds it in large type at the top.

This game may be made very useful by using the names of kings and
queens, and the learned men of their reigns, instead of authors. It is
a very good way to study history. The popes can be utilized, with their
attendant great men, and by playing the game for a season the dates and
the events of some obscure period of history will be effectually fixed
in the memory.

As the numbers affixed to the cards may be purely arbitrary, the count
at the end will fluctuate with remarkable impartiality; thus, the
Dickens cards may count but one, while Tupper will be named sixteen;
Carlyle can be two, while Artemus Ward shall be sixty. This is made
very amusing sometimes. King Henry VIII, who set no small store by
himself, can be made to count very little in the kingly game, while the
poor Edward IV may have a higher numeral than he was allowed in life.



VI.

FORTUNE-TELLING.


We now come to that game which interests old and young. None are so
apathetic but that they relish a look behind the dark curtain. The
apple-paring in the fire, the roasted chestnut and the raisin, the
fire-back and the stars, have been interrogated since time began.
The pack of cards, the tea-cup, the dream-book, the board with the
mystic numbers, and the Bible and Key, have been consulted from time
immemorial. The makers of games have given in their statistics, and
they declare that there are no cards or games so sure of selling well
as those which foretell the Future.

Now a very pretty Home Amusement is to cultivate, without believing
much in them, the innocent sciences of palmistry and of fortune-telling.
Several years ago this led to the making of a very pretty book
by Mrs. Gilman, of South Carolina--a poetical and very harmless
fortune-teller--made up of lines from the poets. The young ladies of
the period used to draw as future husbands: “A professor, and a log
cabin in the West”; “a lord, and a castle”; “a merchant prince”; “an
irresolute and an obstinate fool”; “a well-favored gentleman,” and so
on, the good fortunes being in great advance of the bad ones. It was a
popular work, and amused many a tea-party.

Many people, since the advent of Spiritualism, have amused themselves
with that wonderful toy, “Planchette,” and other curious caprices of
mind-reading, clairvoyance, table-tipping, and knocks. The Key, which
seems to possess strong magnetic powers, and all the performances which
the unbeliever calls “nonsense,” or worse, and which the believing
call “manifestations,” are also interesting; but we can not recommend
this sort of tampering with nervous and exciting pleasure, as it has
undoubtedly sometimes unhinged the most truly innocent minds. Such
investigations should be left to strong and sober men, and should be
approached in a very philosophical spirit, or not at all.

There can be no harm, however, in a playful consultation of the leaves
of the daisy, the four-leaved clover, the fortunate black cat who
brings us luck, the moon over the right shoulder, the oracular “You
shall travel over land and sea”--believing in all the good fortune,
but in none of the bad. The salt should be carefully thrown over
the left shoulder, if spilled, and all the Fates and Fairies should
be propitiated. It gives delightful variety to life to know all the
superstitions and the lore of old nurses and grandmothers. Did we
follow them back, we should find that they each had a poetical origin.
We all like to believe that we can enumerate on our fingers the false
friends, the enemies; but we may hope that the world could not hold the
admirers and the friends whom one four-leaved clover or one black cat
had given us--or promised us. To be sure, “we had dreamed of snakes,
and that meant enemies.” But, after all, are not enemies next best to
friends? They give us consequences, and who that is worth anything was
ever without them? That would be a very colorless individual who should
go through life without an enemy.

The riches which are hidden in a fortune-telling set of cards
(although like Peter Goldthwaite’s treasure) are very real and
comforting while they last. They are endless, they have few really
trying responsibilities attached, they can not be taxed, they are
absolutely where thieves can not break through and steal. They are so
satisfactory, which real wealth never is; they buy everything we want;
they go farther than any real fortune could go; they are our real and
personal estate, and our poetical dreams; our Lamp of Aladdin, and
our Chemical Bank. They are gained without hurting anybody; they are
dug out of the ground without painful backache or bloodshed; they are
inherited without stain, and can be spent without fear of profligacy.
Of what other fortune can we say as much?

It would be an unending theme to try to make a catalogue of the
superstitions of all nations. The Irish, with their wild belief in
fairies, that _Leprechaun_--the little man in red, who, if you can
catch him, will make you happy and prosperous for ever after; who has
such a strange relationship to humanity that at birth and death the
Leprechaun must be tended by a mortal! to read, as they do--these
imaginative people--a sermon in every stone; to see luck beneath the
four-leaved clover, and to hang a legend on every bush; to follow the
more spiritually-minded Scotchman in his second sight, who holds that

    “Coming events cast their shadows before.”

A very learned book has been written on the “Superstitions of Wales”
alone. Eloquent and poetic are the people who have invented the
Banshee, the Brownie (or domestic fairy who does all the work). The
more tragic and less loving superstitions of Italy teach that the “evil
eye” is always to be dreaded. The Breton superstitions are as wild as
the sea-gust which sweeps from their coast. All these are subjects of
profound interest to those who read the great subject of race, from
ethnology, folk-lore, and ballads. The superstitions of a people tell
their innermost characteristics, and are thus profoundly interesting.

The French have, however, tabularized fortune-telling for us. Their
peculiar ability in arranging ceremonials and _fêtes_, and their
undoubted genius for tactics and strategy, show that they are able to
foresee events with unusual clearness. Their ingenuity in all technical
contrivances is an additional testimony in the same direction, and we
are not surprised that they have here, as is their wont, given us the
practical help which we need in fortune-telling. Mlle. Lenormand, the
sorceress who prophesied to Napoleon his greatness, and to many of the
princes and great men of France their downfall and their misfortunes,
has left us thirty-six cards (to be bought at any book-store), wherein
we can read the decrees of fate. Her preface says, “Thousands of
noblemen did then acknowledge her great talent already during her
lifetime, and did often confess that her method was full of truth and
exactness.” Lenormand was a very clever sibyl; she had great ingenuity;
she throws in enough of the inevitable bad, and finds enough of the
possible good, to at least amuse those who consult her oracles. Whether
we have confidence or faith in the divination, we can not but look for
the lucky cards. In this game “The Cavalier” is a messenger of good
fortune, and, if not surrounded by unlucky cards, brings good news,
which the person may expect either from his own house or from abroad.
This will, however, not take place immediately, but some time after.

“The Clover Leaf” is a harbinger of good news, but if surrounded by
clouds it indicates great pain; but if No. 2 lies near No. 26 or 28,
the pain will be of short duration, and will soon change to a happy
issue.

“The Ship,” the symbol of commerce, signifies great wealth, which will
be acquired by trade or inheritance. If near to the person, it means an
early journey.

“The House” is a certain sign of success and prosperity, and although
the present position of the person may be disagreeable, yet the future
will be bright and happy. If this card lies in the center of the cards
under the person, this is a hint to beware of those who surround him.

“A Tree,” if distant from the person, signifies good health. Nine
trees, of different cards together, leave no doubt about the
realization of all reasonable wishes.

“Clouds”: if their clear side is turned toward the person, it is a
lucky sign; with the dark side turned toward the person, something
disagreeable will soon happen.

“A Serpent” is a sign of misfortune, the extent of which depends
upon the greater or smaller distance from the person; it is followed
invariably by deceit, infidelity, and sorrow.

“A Coffin,” very near to the person, means, without any doubt,
dangerous diseases, death, or total loss of fortune; more distant from
the person, the card is less dangerous.

“The Nosegay” means much happiness in every respect.

“The Scythe” indicates great danger, which will only be avoided if
lucky cards surround him.

“The Rod” means quarrels in the family, domestic afflictions, want of
peace among married persons, fever, and protracted illness.

“The Birds” mean hardship to be overcome, but of short duration;
distant from the person, they mean the accomplishment of a pleasant
journey.

These are descriptions of a few of the picture-cards with which Mlle.
Lenormand tells fortunes still, although she has gone to the land of
certainty, and has herself found out if her symbols and emblems, and
her combinations, really did draw aside the curtain of the future with
invisible strings. We advise all our readers to possess themselves of
her “Fortune-telling Cards” if they wish to become amateur sibyls.

The cup of tea, and the mysterious wanderings of the grounds around the
cup, so long the favorite medium of the sibyl, seems to be an English
superstition. It fits itself to the old crone domesticity of the
Anglo-Saxon humble home, rather than to the more out-of-door romance of
the Spaniards and the Italians; and yet the most out-of-door people in
the world--the gypsies--use it as a means of discerning the future.

The cup should be filled with a weak infusion of tea--grounds and
all--and then carefully turning the cup toward one, the tea should be
carefully turned out, waving the cup so skillfully that the tea-leaves
are dispersed over the surface of the cup. Happy the maid who can turn
out the tea without spilling the leaves. If one drop of tea is left in
the cup it will mean--a tear.

These grounds, or tea-leaves, have been used from the earliest days as
the alphabet of the Parcæ. Before Chinese tea was brought to England
the old fortune-tellers made some sort of a brew out of powdered herbs,
which left their mark on the cup. We can understand how that sinuous
serpent who has had so much to do with our destiny, as a synonym of
evil, can be pictured or “visualized” by such a process; but where the
sibyl finds the light-haired young man crossing a river, where she
finds gold and where trouble, we must leave to the interpreters.

That most interesting of sibyls, “Norna of the Fitful Head,” used
molten lead as a means of interpreting the unseen, and that can be done
by our modern soothsayers.

Cards from early antiquity have been used to tell fortunes. The Queen
of Hearts is the heroine, and as about her group the propitious reds,
or the gloomy blacks, so may we hope for good or dread bad luck. The
Ace of Spades is a bearer of evil tidings; the King of Hearts, at the
right of the Queen, is the very Fortunatus himself. And now, who is
this goddess so often invoked? _Fortuna_, courted by all nations, was,
in Greek, _Tyche_, or the goddess of chance. She differed from Destiny
or Fate in so far that she worked without law, giving or taking at
her own good pleasure, and dispensing joy or sorrow indefinitely; her
symbols were those of mutability--a ball, a wheel, a pair of wings,
a rudder. The Romans affirmed that, when she entered their city, she
threw off her wings and shoes, and determined to live with them for
ever; she seems to have thought better of it, however. She was a sister
of the Parcæ, or Fates, those three who spin the thread of life,
measure it, and cut it off. Fortunatus, he of the inexhaustible purse
of gold and the wishing-cap, is too familiar a figure to the readers of
fairy tales to be mentioned here.

And yet, although all nations have desired to propitiate Fortuna, her
high-priests and interpreters have ever been in disrepute. In Scotland,
that land of demonology and witchcraft, of second-sight, of dreamy
superstition, fortune-tellers were denounced as vagabonds, and their
punishment, by statute, was scourging and burning of the ears. We all
know how the knowledge of the “black art” was denounced in Germany; and
the witches of Salem, while they were approached at dead of night by a
pale magistrate who desired to have his fortune told, were, at his high
behest, tortured, pilloried, and hanged the next week, if the fortune
was a bad one, or, if being well foretold, was slow of accomplishment.
That half-belief which superstitious persons repose in their oracles,
shown in the case of the Indian, who breaks or maims his God if he does
not respond to his prayer, and in the remarkable story of Louis XI, of
France, who used to alternately pray to and abuse his leaden images of
saints, is repeated often in the history of fortune-telling.

Mother Redcap, “a very witch,” was resorted to by hundreds of persons
in England as a fortune-teller; her image remains on a coin dated
1667. The well-known prophecies of her neighbor, Mother Shipton, have
come down to us. Poor Redcap had all the duckings and the batings
of the populace. She and her black cat were the favorite horrors of
the superstitious inhabitants of Kentish Town, and hundreds of men,
women, and children saw the devil come in state to carry her off. But
Mother Shipton (who was born at Knaresborough in the reign of Henry
VII) became the most popular of British prophets, and, although she
was supposed to have sold her soul to the Old Gentleman, she yet died
in her bed decently and in order at an extreme old age. So Fortuna
is capricious, even in her treatment of her votaries. It is not
strange that “Palmistry” should have taken higher ground than mere
fortune-telling, and indeed the lines of the hand will seem to map out
character, and perhaps destiny, with some accuracy. The books say that
the lines running through the palm indicate will or indecision, force
or weakness, quickness or slowness; indeed, all which makes character
and fate. We are the arbiters of at least a part of our fortune.

The power to tell fortunes by the hand can be learned from any of
the French books on palmistry, and there are one or two little
English translations. It can be sufficiently curious and varied to
amuse the home circle, and so long as it is done for that purpose,
fortune-telling can do no harm.

But the moment we rise above the idea that the beans, the tea-grounds,
the black cat, the cards, or the lines in the palm, are but blind
guides, making the most palpable mistakes, then the tampering with the
curtain becomes dangerous, and we had better leave the future alone.



VII.

AMUSEMENTS FOR A RAINY DAY.


It may seem an impeachment of the taste of our readers to have lingered
so long on the lesser lights of games and fortune-telling as “Home
Amusements,” when we have before us the great world of decorative art:
æsthetic embroidery, dinner-card designing, china painting, the making
of screens, and the thousand and one devices by which the modern family
can amuse itself.

The making of screens is an amusement which occupies the whole family
most profitably for a rainy day, even if it is to be only the cutting
out of pictures from the illustrated newspapers, and the subsequent
arrangement of them in curious conjunction on a white cotton or muslin
background. The use of screens has dawned upon the American mind within
a few years. They are delightful in a dining-room to keep off a draught
or to hide a closet-door. They break up a too long room admirably.
They are very useful in a bedroom to shut off the washstand and bath;
and they are very comforting to the invalid, as a protection to his
easy-chair against insidious breezes.

Of course, those of satin or linen, embroidered by a skillful hand;
those painted on canvas by the best painters of to-day; those from
China and Japan--are the screens of the opulent. Very pretty paper
screens may be bought at the shops for three or four dollars. But
those on which a group of pictures are to be pasted are the cheapest
and most amusing of any. And do not go and buy highly-glazed pictures
for the purpose. If you do, the screen looks like a valentine. But
cut out the pictures from old copies of the “London Illustrated
News,” “Punch,” “Harper’s Weekly,” “Harper’s Bazaar,” and the English
“Graphic,” paste them thickly one upon another, and you have a curious
and most interesting mosaic. A lady in 1876, the Centennial year, made
a very beautiful screen of fashion plates from the ordinary magazines
of the period. Already (1881) these fashions look very antiquated,
and the screen is becoming historically valuable. The effect of these
delicately-colored pictures, put on as thickly as possible over the
white muslin, has an effect like a festal procession, and is very
pretty.

The medium used for adhering the pictures is common flour paste, the
pictures being also washed over the outside with the same, and all the
edges effectually fastened down, the cotton cloth to which they are
applied being tightly stretched over a wooden frame. When domestic
paste is made, the material is frequently injured by scorching, or by
the addition of too much water. Good paste, when spread on paper, will
not strike through it like water, but will remain on the surface, like
butter on a piece of bread. To make paste of a superior quality, that
will not spoil when kept in a cool place for several months, it is
necessary to add dissolved alum as a preservative. When a few quarts
are required, dissolve a dessert-spoonful of alum in two quarts of
tepid water. Put the water in a tin pail that will hold six or eight
quarts, as the flour of which the paste is made will expand greatly
while it is boiling. As soon as the tepid water has cooled, stir in
good rye or wheat flour, until the liquid has the consistency of cream.
See that every lump of flour is crushed before placing the vessel
over the fire. To prevent scorching the paste, place over the fire a
dish-kettle or wash-boiler, partly filled with water, and set the tin
pail containing the material for paste in the water, permitting the
bottom to rest on a few large nails or pebbles, to prevent excessive
heat. Now add a teaspoonful of powdered resin, a few cloves to flavor
the paste, and let it cook until the paste has become as thick as
“Graham mush,” when it will be ready for use. Keep it in a tight jar,
and it will last for a long time. If too thick, add cold water, and
stir it thoroughly. Such paste will hold almost as well as glue.

The famous picture-books of Walter Crane make a very pretty frieze for
screens; the artists of the family sometimes paint a frieze. In these
days of dadoes the screens are often made with dado, wainscot, and
frieze in three different colored papers, so that there are three tiers
of background for the pictures, if the maker desires to leave spaces
between them. The cutting out of the pictures is an amusing occupation
for all the family on a rainy day.

This making of screens sometimes leads to another very attractive
work for a rainy day--the preparation for a fancy dress ball. This,
in a lonely country house, far away from the chance of any outward
amusement, has often cheated a fortnight’s bad weather of its
heart-depressing qualities.

As we have not the stores of old armor, old brocade and satin, powdered
wigs, and costumes of the different reigns, which may be supposed from
modern English novels to be the property of every English mansion,
we must call upon taste and upon our national faculty of invention
to help us in this dilemma. The country store will give us black and
white tarlatan, chintz, cotton flannel (a most excellent medium), and,
indeed, flannels of all sorts. Black lace, jewelry, and flowers are in
every lady’s trunk, and, with some stiff linings and _appliqué_ chintz
flowers, an old silk can be made into a priceless brocade.

Let us take a Venetian dress first. We will have King _Pantelon_,
the Lord of Misrule, in black with scarlet shirt and three-cornered
hat, and attended by his gay and dissolute crew. We will have the
_Illustrissimi_, wearing the dress of the ancient Venetian nobility,
scarlet cloaks, and long bag wigs, mightily disdainful; the _Chiozotti_
in black velvet, wide lace collars, and high cloth caps, adorned with
artificial flowers--they shall shower _confetti_ and make jokes; we
shall have dominoes and masks, Egyptians and Neapolitans in velvet,
with scarlet caps and stockings, clapping castanets; we shall have
Armenians, Levant merchants and sailors, Turks in caftans, Greeks and
Dalmatians, regular-featured Mussulmans, Hindoos with jet-black hair,
and Malay Lascars in many-colored turbans, fez, and scarf; grinning
soot-black negroes, Polish Jews in furred caps and long coats, Magyars
in Hessians and pelisses; Bohemian nurses in Czechen costume, a colored
handkerchief in the hair; dark-eyed young _bourgeoises_ in coquettish
black veils; elegant ladies in velvet and point lace; the gondolier,
in his picturesque sailor costume and broad sash; the Finland peasant,
with short skirts, long-dangling ear-rings, and silver pins; the
Maltese with her _fazzoletto_; an old _Contadino_, with short velveteen
knee-breeches, gaiters, and colored cotton umbrella; priests all
in black gown, shovel hat, and black silk stockings; dashing naval
officers; the _Guardia Nazionale_, and weather-beaten fishermen with
bronzed faces and red Phrygian cap. We shall have Lord Byron, pale and
melancholy, and picturesque Masaniello; the patriarchs of the Greek
Church; the Spanish beauties, the Swiss peasant, the German Mädchen;
the madcap Harlequin dress of a Spanish princess. Then there will be
all the seasons--winter, for instance, in tulle, swansdown, and spun
glass; the Marie Antoinettes, in pink brocade with long, square trains
and trimmings of Marabout feathers; the lovely Georgian costume, a
Seville gypsy, a Russian peasant; a flower-girl, a Nymph; Night and
Day; Spanish students and Flemish boors; Pages of Queen Blanche of
Castile; the beautiful white uniform of the _Dragon de Villars_; a
gothic costume; Charlemagne and his Paladins. In short--“the Carnival
of Venice.” All this was done, and well done, at a country house and
the adjacent village (a village of not more than fifteen hundred
inhabitants), and for very little money, only a few years ago.

The business is done if one only _thinks he can do it_; and there
are numbers enough to work at it. A boarding-school holiday, a
watering-place, a large town bent on “getting up something” for
charity, should have one such home behind it, where a natural-born
leader will set the whole thing going, and the picturesque shores of
Italy will give up their delights to some western town, some inland
village, some quiet and decorous hamlet of New England, where all the
inhabitants are dying of _ennui_.

But here, from the pictures of our screen, which have suggested all
this, we have been led off from Decorative Art into the business of
giving a ball! We have been entertaining a motley crowd indeed!

    “The day was dull, and dark, and dreary,
    It rained, and the rain was never weary.”

But see! how we have cheated the clouds! The rainy fortnight has been
the most dissipated season possible--all owing to our happy device of
getting up a fancy ball--one of the very many pleasant thoughts which
have grown out of screens and screen-making.



VIII.

EMBROIDERY AND OTHER DECORATIVE ARTS.


Let us return to our three legitimate decorations--our fan-painting,
our screen-painting, and our embroideries.

Of Embroidery the world is full, and at its best estate. The foolish
old German wool-worsted work has gone out, and in its place we have
the very elaborate church needle-work of the Middle Ages, and, better
still, its tapestry.

Some ingenious lady discovered that a plain piece of carpet made a very
good background for a rich curtain, after a few stitches of embroidery
were added; and it took but one step farther for another lady to find
in cotton velvet a good background for tapestry. The figures are
sketched on, and then the embroidery is artistically added, in the
style of the thirteenth century, when the characters were outlined by a
single line, which also designates the shape and folds of the garments.
These outlines are filled in with masses of stitches in two or three
shades of color. It is best, in making tapestry, to adhere to this
simplicity, as in attempting the later richness of the Gobelins the
work degenerates into a vulgar imitation.

And in stitching away at the tapestry frame, the well-read mamma
might give her daughters a little sketch of the history of tapestry.
How once these artistic draperies were the adornments of those stone
castles which knew no plastered walls. How they caught the story of the
“Iliad” and “Odyssey,” the scenes from the Bible, the whole story of
mythology, the history of great wars. There hangs to-day, at Blenheim,
a perfect set of pictures of the victories of the great Duke of
Marlborough, done for him by the pious Belgian nuns.

But those works anterior to the sixteenth century have the greatest
interest for the student of tapestry. Gold thread and silk were freely
used in their embellishment, and the effect is rather that of a mosaic
than of a picture. The greens are a study. They are produced with a
dark blue for the dark, and a yellow for the light tints. The wonderful
work of Matilda, called the Bayeux tapestry, wrought on brown linen;
the many historical pieces found in Italy, done in wools; and the
collections all over Europe, show a mastery over the needle which we
have lost.

But it was left for Francis I, of France, to establish the most
renowned factory for these beautiful things, when at Fontainebleau
he founded what is now the _Gobelins_. The Gobelins were two Dutch
dyers of wool, celebrated for their brilliant scarlets, who eventually
gave their name to the art, and a “Gobelin” got to mean a tapestry.
Under Louis XIV the Luxurious this manufactory attained to highest
importance. They became the Herters and Marcottes of France. Colbert,
the Prime Minister, united under one head all the different bands of
workmen who were employed on furniture and decorations for the royal
palaces of France. To the weavers of carpets and tapestry were added
embroiderers, goldsmiths, wood-carvers, dyers, etc. Charles Lebrun
and his pupils were charged with furnishing designs. Lebrun himself
furnished over twenty-four hundred designs. In 1667 Louis himself
paid a visit of state to the manufactory, accompanied by Colbert,
and examined the magnificent carpets, tapestries, silver plate, and
carvings which formed the splendid “Manufactory of Furniture to the
Crown.” This great establishment, however, went down, as Louis lost
money; and after the death of Lebrun (he was father to the wretched
husband of pretty Madame Le Brun) it returned to its original function
of producing tapestry. These Gobelin tapestries grew to be the most
wonderful reproduction of pictures ever seen.

But why, one pauses to ask, try to reproduce a picture “done in oils”
by the laborious process of needle-work or weaving? Why by process of
mosaic? It is one of the useless fancies of the human race. The old
tapestry, done by hand when there were no Gobelins, had a meaning and
a use. So has the modern tapestry done by hand. It is cheap, it is
individual, it is original; but for the Gobelins, that favorite luxury
of kings, we fail to see an excuse. However, it is very beautiful,
expensive, and rare.

The process of tapestry weaving is called the “_haute lisse_,” the warp
being placed vertically, in contradistinction to the “_basse lisse_,”
a work with a horizontal warp, as is usual. The weaver stands with the
model which he is to copy behind him. As the surface of the tapestry
must present a perfectly smooth and even surface, all cuttings must
be made on the wrong side, for the workman never sees the beautiful
work he is doing. This has been made use of in poetry in the following
simile:

    “We work but blindly at the loom,
      Nor see the pattern, save in parts;
    Not ours to mark the gleam or bloom,
      But labor on, with patient hearts.

    “But when the angels overhead
      The soul-wrought tapestry unfurls,
    Perhaps the tears we vainly shed
      May glow amid the threads--like pearls.

    “The sorrow which has crushed the heart
      A lily blooms, on azure field;
    The strife in which we bore our part
      In bud and flower may stand revealed.”

The Gobelins used gold, silver, pearls, and everything decorative
in their work, at times, to produce effect. The first Revolution
brought destruction to the Gobelins, as it did to everything else,
and many choice pieces were burned. But it rose again under the first
Napoleon, David furnishing designs. In 1871 the Communists again set
fire to the manufactory, burning up the exhibition-room. Four hundred
thousand dollars was the estimated loss. But when we remember that
there perished tapestries of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries,
including the “Acts of the Apostles” by Raphael, and the now valuable,
graceful, although affected, charming designs of Boucher, which were
wrought for Pompadour, besides historical portraits and scenes, this
seems a low estimate. The embroidery of the cartoons of Raphael, copies
of which may be seen at Hampton Court, were among the greatest of the
Gobelin triumphs.

However, to those who have walked the galleries of Florence, who have
seen there the grand and beautiful specimens of embroidered tapestry of
the sixteenth century, there will ever be a charm about old tapestry
in the crude perspective and the sudden shading. It is this, perhaps,
which can be copied. It is this to which the modern tapestry worker
should address herself, if among the amusements of home she counts the
making of curtains, and wall-coverings, and _portières_, which shall
almost suggest the possibility that they once hung in a Florentine
or a Venetian palace. A dark background of some cheap woolen stuff,
a knowledge of drawing, the silk and woolen and cotton and linen
threads now brought to our hand so cheaply--will all furnish forth the
appliances for the making of tapestry hangings, such as a castellan of
the Middle Ages would not have despised.

Painting on fans has become a very common Home Amusement, and it is
a very elegant one. The white silk fan is usually selected, although
linen, satin, and wood fans are all easy and pleasant mediums.
For painting on silk, some technical knowledge is necessary, some
gum-water, or sizing, to prevent the paint from spreading. For painting
on wood, one needs only the common water-color box, and a simple
knowledge of drawing and painting. Flowers, birds, and butterflies
are the favorite devices, monograms having gone out of fashion. It is
better, if possible, to have the silk stretched on a frame before it
is mounted on sticks, as one still sees the masterpieces of Boucher,
Watteau, and Greuze, not yet mounted, but framed, in galleries--far too
precious to mount, the Marchioness who ordered them having, perhaps,
fortunately forgotten her caprice that we may admire it.

And what pretty and pleasing and altogether historical memories come
in with the fan! It was created in primeval ages. The Egyptian ladies
had them of lotus-leaves; the Greek and Roman ladies followed. The word
_flabellum_ occurs often in the Roman literature. They also had fans of
peacock-feathers, and of some expansive material painted in brilliant
colors. They were not made to open and shut like ours; that is a modern
invention. They were stiff, with long handles, for ladies were fanned
by their slaves. The _flabellifer_, or fan-bearer, was some young
attendant, generally male, whose common business it was to carry his
mistress’s fan. Would that were the fashion now! There is a Pompeian
painting of Cupid as the fan-bearer of Ariadne, and lamenting her
desertion by Theseus. In Queen Elizabeth’s day the fan was usually made
of feathers, like the fan still used in the East. The handle was richly
ornamented, and set with stones. A fashionable lady was never without
her fan, which was chained to her girdle by a jeweled chain. A satirist
of the day, Stephen Gosson, approves of the fan if used to drive away
flies and for cooling the skin. He, however, continues scornfully:

    “But seeing they were still in hand,
      In house, in field, in church, in street,
    In summer, winter, water, land,
      In cold, in heat, in dry, in wet--
    I judge they are for wives such tools
    As babies are in plays for fools.”

Queen Elizabeth dropped a silver-handled fan into the moat at Amstead
Hall, which occasioned many madrigals. Sir Francis Drake presented to
his royal mistress a “fan of feathers, white and red, enameled with a
half-moon of mother-of-pearl; within that a half-moon garnished with
sparks of diamonds, and a few seed pearls on one side. Having her
Majesty’s picture within it, and on the reverse a crow.” Why not try,
young ladies, to paint a fan like this? Use silver dust to illustrate
“sparks of diamonds.” It would be a very pretty conceit.

Poor Leicester gave, as his New Year’s gift, in 1574, “a fan of white
feathers set in a handle of gold, garnished on one side with two very
fair emeralds, and fully garnished with rubies and diamonds, and on
each side a white bear (his cognizance), and two pearls hanging, a lion
romping, with a white muzzled bear at his foot.” This fan would be
difficult to copy. It was evidently a love-token from poor, ill-used
Leicester to his haughty queen. Just before Christmas, in 1595,
Elizabeth went to Kew, dined at my Lord Keeper’s house, and there was
handed her a “fine fan, with a handle garnished with diamonds.”

Fans in Shakespeare’s time seem to have been composed of
ostrich-feathers, and so on, stuck into handles. In “Love and Honor,”
by Sir William Davenant, we find the line,

    “All your plate, Vasco, is the silver handle of your old prisoner’s
    fan.”

Marston says:

                          “Another, he
    Her silver-handled fan would gladly be.”

Forty pounds were often given for a fan in Elizabeth’s time. Bishop
Hall, in his “Satires,” in 1597, says:

    “While one piece pays her idle waiting man,
    Or buys a hood, or silver-handled fan.”

The fan of the Countess of Suffolk resembles a powder-puff.

But gentlemen carried fans in those days. We find in a manuscript in
the Ashmolean Museum, at Oxford, the following allusion: “The gentlemen
then had prodigious fans, as is to be seen in old pictures, like that
instrument which is used to dry feathers, and it had a handle at least
one half as long, with which their daughters oftentimes were corrected.
Sir Edward Cole, Lord Chief Justice, rode the circuit with such a
fan, and William Dugdale told me he was witness of it.” The Earl of
Manchester also used such a fan. “But the fathers and mothers slasht
their daughters, in the time of their besom-discipline, when they were
perfect women.” Both fashions have happily passed away. Lords Chief
Justices no longer “slash” their daughters, nor do they carry fans.

Of Catharine de Braganza (1664) we read that she and her maids walked
from Whitehall in procession to St. James’s Palace through the park
in glittering costume of silver lace in the bright morning sunshine.
Parasols being unknown in England at that era, the courtly belles used
the gigantic green shading-fans, which had been introduced by the
Queen and her Portuguese ladies, to shield their complexions from the
sun, when they did not wish wholly to obscure their charms by putting
on their masks. Both were in general use in this reign. The green
shading-fan is of Moorish origin, and for more than a century after
the marriage of Catharine of Braganza was considered an indispensable
luxury by our fair and stately ancestral dames, who used them in open
carriages, in the promenade, and at prayers, where they ostentatiously
screened their devotions from public view by spreading them before
their faces while they knelt.

But China and Japan--the home of fans--are waiting to be let in! and
as soon as the India trade was opened by Catharine’s marriage treaty,
there entered the carved ivory fan, the light bamboo and palm-leaf, the
paper fan, the silk folding fan, mounted on beautiful Japanese sticks;
all came to England about this time.

The vellum fans of France, on which Watteau first painted his
shepherdesses in hoop-petticoats, and swains in full-bottomed wigs, the
choice impossible goddesses of Boucher, with cupids and nymphs, all
came next. The history of fans, in France alone, would fill a volume;
and the neighboring kingdom of Spain, where the language of fans has
become a very serious study, would give us another volume. The fans of
tortoise-shell, enriched with jewels, are a favorite luxury of to-day.
Oliver Wendell Holmes has written a delightful poem on the “Origin
of the Fan.” In all our art loan collections there is, nowadays, an
exhibition of fans. The young student of fan-painting should strive to
see some of those of Watteau and of Boucher. Tiffany to-day turns out
some very beautiful specimens; and more than one of our artists could
admirably paint a fan or two as his contribution to Fan History.

Nothing can be prettier as a Home Amusement than fan-painting, into
which much, but not too much, Japanese suggestion should creep.
Remember, young ladies, the plea of that poor stork, of which we have
seen so much, “that he be allowed to put down his other leg!” and spare
us the gilded bird, or give him to us but seldom.

The art of Illumination, which is now studied occasionally by our
young ladies, goes wonderfully well into fan-painting. Perhaps it is
too good for it. Perhaps the same hand which can copy the old initial
letter which makes the missals rich and rare, should not condescend to
the application of the same delicate manipulation in order to ornament
a fan. But a fan of vellum, painted by an illuminator, is still a very
beautiful thing.

A fan painted to illustrate a song or a ballad is a very pretty thing.
The common linen fan, on which a clever hand draws with pencil or
ink the story of “Mary, Mary, quite contrary,” becomes a precious
possession. And in these days of Kate Greenaways and Rosina Emmets we
ought to have many charming fan decorators. We should not object if
they selected the old-fashioned _maniéré_ goddesses, hovering cupids,
smiling nymphs, and _posé_ infants of Boucher, if they would give us
his cool, pearly grays, and sweet, soft rose tints. We have had enough
of realism and ugliness, disagreeable cat-tails, and harsh, dirty Joan
of Arcs. Let us have a little beauty by way of a change, at least on
our fans. Perhaps we could “live up to it.”

Nor should we fail to note the pleasant possibility of all the
dinner-cards of a winter coming fresh from the hands of the young
ladies of the family. What infinite suggestion does one glimpse of
the garden on a June morning give to the fair artist! We can imagine
that some poetical member should thus summon and direct her sister and
brother artists in the following manner:

“Do give me, Rosamond, that spray of sweet-brier which has caught a
bit of spider-web over its sweetest pink bud. Throw in that green
dragon-fly who is about to dart through the spider’s web. Give me,
Grace, that morning-glory cup with a yellow butterfly floating over it.
It will shame the best Venetian glass of Mrs. Crœsus.

“You, Jane, paint me those dandelions, strewed by some millionaire
who is tired of his gold. You, Constance, take this volume of the old
poets, and hunt up appropriate mottoes to write under these fancies
from Nature. They shall illuminate our dinners of next winter, and
breathe the breath of Nature through our stiff conventionality. They
shall be our visitors from Titania.

“Yes, a happy thought! You, Mary, who are so akin to the fairies, give
us your kindred. Paint me Oberon and Queen Mab giving a banquet in yon
lily. What a splendid and baronial apartment! How the golden shower
falls on their royal heads from those laden stamens! True courtiers
they, who never stop flattering. Suggest, if you can, with your brush,
the perfume of luxury which is born and bred in this royal pavilion.
Show me their delicate guests. Here comes the Butterfly, most _repandu_
of beaus; and the Humming-bird, rich bachelor (hard to catch), who
dashes in for a look at the beauties, and away again--you can put him
in; he is a type for a dinner-card.

“And you, Paul, who are of a strong, masculine, satirical turn,
shall make all these frogs and toads into guests in another set of
dinner-cards. Give me the frog as an Ambassador. I like his pouting
throat, his puffy air--it so simulates importance. How grand and
disdainful he is! I declare, he looks so like old Mr. ----! But do not
make a portrait; that would give offense. These toads are just about as
lively and as brilliant as the rank and file of diners-out. Put them
all in Worth dresses. Make the dishes on the table after Hawthorne’s
delicate fancy, the shapes of summer vegetables--squashes, cucumbers,
pea-pods. What is that pretty poem I remember about Pods?

    “‘The Monk’s-hood and the Shepherd’s-purse,
      And the Poppy’s pepper-caster;
    The Rose’s scarlet reticule,
      And the somber box of the Aster;
    Nasturtion’s biting brandy-flask,
      Infused with a wholesome smart;
    And the Milkweed’s knot of white floss silk,
      Which will not come apart;
    For next to the bud where the Poppy nods,
      And the sweet Moss-rose--are the late Seed-pods.’”

“Yes,” said Mary, “pods are very pretty.”

Well, we have, perhaps, talked nonsense enough about the dinner-cards.
It is a pretty Home Amusement for the back piazza in summer, or for
the close and guarded warm home parlor of winter. Give us the results
of both, young ladies. And since all the wealthy chromo people are
offering such splendid sums for the Christmas, Easter, and even
advertising cards, why should not every group try their hand at
the--perhaps--thousand dollar prize?

Here is a suggestion for a Christmas card: A group of young pagans
going out of the Catacombs are represented as strewing flowers
and singing gay songs. On the other side a group of austere early
Christians are coming in, singing hymns. Between the two a ray of
light comes down through a fissure of the roof and forms a cross. The
religion that is going out, the religion that is coming in--the cross
is between them. How much a clever hand could make of this moment of
time, so replete with interest to all the world!

It would seem as if, with all the suggestions of Easter, that no one
would need anything but a paint-box and a pack of blank cards to
interest them at this season. We should have the World being hatched
out of an egg; the Saxon goddess Eastre; the Legend of the Stork;
the German children searching for the Nest in the garden where the
Easter-hen had laid her egg; the great Sunburst; the Sun dancing on
Easter morning; the games of mediæval England, when the women played
ball at one end of the town and the men at the other, and one fine
couple taking occasion to run away to get married on the sly. The
Easter Egg is full of meat for the artist.

Growing out of these thoughts comes up the great and increasing taste
for symbolism, which finds its highest exponent in church embroidery.
The Catholic Church has ever been a good customer of the decorative art
schools. It needs and consumes or uses much embroidery. But the pious
women of Protestant communion now also deem it a duty and a pleasure
to decorate the altars of their beloved churches with much that is
symbolic and beautiful, and it is a favorite form of Home Amusement to
create an altar-cloth or some draperies which shall engross an hour or
two a day of the time of the best embroideresses in the family.

[Illustration]

The favorite symbols are these: The Cross in its various forms; the
monogram composed of the Greek letters Χ (_Ch_) and Ρ (_R_), the first
two in the name of CHRIST; the Apocalyptic letters Α and Ω (_Alpha_
and _Omega_), often combined into a monogram; and the Greek characters
ΙΗΣ, the first three letters in the name ΙΗΣΟΥΣ (JESUS). This last
symbol is sometimes interpreted thus, in Latin: _J[esus], H[ominum]
S[alvator]_--JESUS, OF MEN THE SAVIOUR.

Less frequent is the Fish, which was often used by the early Christians
as a kind of secret sign of their faith, the reason being that ΙΧΘΥΣ,
the Greek word for “fish,” contains the initials of an article of their
creed, thus: Ι[ησοῦς] Χ[ριστὸς], Θ[εοῦ] Υ[ιὸς], Σ[ωτὴρ]--_Jesus Christ,
God’s Son, the Saviour_.

Besides the foregoing, we have the Ship, indicating the Church, as
typified by Noah’s Ark; the Anchor (always in close connection with
the ship) entwined with a dolphin--emblems of Fortitude, Faith, and
Hope; the Dove, occasionally bearing the olive-branch--the symbol of
Christian Charity and Meekness; the Phœnix and the Peacock--symbols of
Eternity; the Cock of Watchfulness; the Lyre of the Worship of God; the
Palm-branch--the heathen symbol of Victory, but in a Christian sense
that of Victory over Death; the Sheaf; the Bunch of Grapes, with other
Biblical signs and allusions, such as the Hart at the Brook; the Brazen
Serpent; the Ark of the Covenant; the Seven-branched Candlestick; the
Serpent in the Garden of Eden; and, lastly, the Cross, with flowers,
with a Crown, with a dove hovering about it. Many of these decorative
symbols suggest themselves to the contemplative mind, and enter into
the appropriate designs for ecclesiastical embroidery.

This embroidery must be beautifully executed to be worthy of its
mission. The face of Christ has been so exquisitely wrought by some
devout embroideresses that it is like a painting. The work should be
done in a frame, and after considerable study.

And how pleasant a study for a winter evening becomes the universal
subject of symbolism! We learn that the Eagle and the Thunderbolt were
the symbols of Power under pagan mythology, because the attributes of
the highest among the gods. The Rod, with the two serpents, indicated
Commerce, because Mercury, whose insignia they were, was the God
of Traffic. The Club, the emblem of Strength, was the attribute
of Hercules. The Griffin--most useful animal for all decorative
purposes--was sacred to Apollo. The symbol of the Sphinx was taken
from the fable of Œdipus. We are coming back to the Oriental method of
teaching by parables in all our new internal decoration; and for the
illuminator the knowledge is priceless.

We mount up from these simpler emblems to a consideration of the
myths of Niobe, of Cupid and Psyche, of Orpheus captivating the wild
beasts of the forest by the sound of his lyre, in which was supposed
to lurk an analogy of the history of our Lord. Then we come down to
the materialism of the ancients, by which a river is symbolized by
a river-god; a city, by a goddess with a mural crown; night, by a
female figure with a torch and a star-bespangled robe; heaven, by
a male figure throwing a veil in an arched form over his head. All
these reflections, born of study and leading to it, are brought in
by the practical application now made in embroidery, painting, and
wall-decorations; and it would be well if, among the Home Amusements,
these graver studies went hand in hand with the pleasant duties of
embroidery and illuminating cards and books.

Ole Bull says that he arrived at his wonderful effects upon the violin
less by manual practice than by meditation. It would be well to _think_
much over the subject of art. He _practiced_ less and _thought_ more,
it is said, than other violinists. No occupation conduces more to
quiet and pleasant thought than that of embroidery. We want realism;
but we also want idealism. There is no sort of doubt that Art, once
admitted as a friend of the family, becomes the greatest instigator
of all sorts of Home Amusements, whether peeping out through the
paint-box, the needle, the embroidering-frame, the etching tool, or
the turpentine-bottle and the mineral paints which are to decorate the
plaque. Art is a sprite whose acquaintance should be cultivated.



IX.

ETCHING.


“Good etching is the poetry of drawing, written down rapidly in
short-hand.” No doubt many a very orderly mamma, who has had a son or
daughter afflicted with a mania for etching, as so many young people
are now, has a vision of bath-tubs misappropriated to mixtures of
what looked very unlike clear water for cleansing purposes, and which
turned out to have plates of copper inside waiting for a bite of acid.
Such mammas will blame us for calling this a Home Amusement; they call
it--it is to be feared--“a Nuisance.” And yet what form of Art is
so near the highest forms of poetry? The etcher is next door to his
subject and his public. He has but the ink and himself between that
cloud-shadow and them.

Etching is defined by some writers as the stenography of artistic
thought; a system of short-hand writing. Given a copper plate, an
etching-needle, and the proper knowledge--easily learned--of the action
of the acid, and etching can be done at home as well as crochet or
embroidery; and as only the simplest lines and the simplest curves are
admissible, the question of merit narrows itself to one of intelligent
combination. The best etching is that which combines the maximum of
speed with the maximum of expressional clearness; so that the landscape
may be written on a “monument less perishable than brass,” while the
thought is fresh and vivid. An artist can see in the short-hand of an
etching the glory of a sunset amid its clouds.

Highly-elaborated drawings can also be reproduced by etchings as in
no other way, as we have learned by consulting the Magazines and Art
Periodicals of the day; and although a great etcher must have a genius
for it, many without genius can learn the art. An etching is not a
skeleton of a picture, but a _résumé_. Samuel Palmer, Frederic Taylor,
and Hook, in England; Jules Jacquemart, Flameny, Rajou, Boilvin, Le
Rat, Hédouin, Greux, Courtey, Laguillermie, and others, in France, have
taught us what a beautiful _résumé_ it is, not to speak of our own
gifted interpreters. The original etchers can produce strong sentiment
concerning life and nature; and although there is at first discouraging
uncertainty about results, yet there is a great chance of success.

And the capriciousness of the thing is one of its charms, as it is,
like poetic expression, dependable upon personal thought and feeling.
It is like the success which attends upon a happy hit in poetry when
one makes a good etching, yet a certain amount of mechanical exactitude
can always be acquired. Let the boys and girls of a large family be
taught etching, and some one will turn out a clever and, perhaps, a
first-rate etcher.

It is quite too unfortunate that our young girls in the country do not
take more to sketching from Nature, and to water-color. To sit at one’s
window, and, with a “few telling touches,” to give the trees in the
near foreground or the distant reach of the river, is the every-day
amusement of many an English lady. Our first efforts must be labored,
of course; we must patiently observe and copy what we see; but then
comes the attainment of ease, and our Home Amusements are infinitely
enriched. It is best to study at first in single tint until one gets
accustomed to form, and then to try varied colors.

The mastery of the three primary colors--yellow, red, and blue--is the
Alpha and Omega of painting. As force of color is only to be obtained
by opposing one of these singly to all the others combined, they are
consequently all present whenever opposition occurs; and no picture
is perfectly pleasing without the presence of all three, even though
they may be subdued to the most solemn and sober undertones. Try the
effect of mixing the various colors, and preserve the mixtures you find
most useful. But this is an art which must be learned, and for the
elucidation of which we have no space here.



X.

LAWN TENNIS.


And now we come to what, perhaps, our readers may imagine we might have
come to before--the out-of-door Games and Amusements which radiate from
Home.

Lawn Tennis is so preëminently the game of the present moment that we
must give it a central place in our volume.

It has great antiquity, of course. What fashionable game has not? Did
not Agrippina play at croquet, and Cleopatra institute “Les Graces”? We
know that Diana started archery, for isn’t she always drawn with a bow?
And yet she died an old maid.

The Greeks styled court tennis as “_Sphairistike_,” and the Romans
called it _Pila_. It was the fashionable pastime of French and English
kings. Charles V, of France, and Henry V, VII, and VIII, of England,
were all good tennis players. Who does not remember the insult which
the French king put upon royal Harry?

“Tennis balls! My lord?”

It has been justly described as one of the most ancient games in
Christendom. It became in England the exclusive sport of the wealthy,
owing to the expense of erecting and maintaining covered courts; for in
early days we learn that it was always played within doors. Indeed, the
history of France is full of it. The unhappy Charles IX gave the order
for the massacre of St. Bartholomew from a tennis court. The French
Revolution was born in one.

But to Major Walter Wingfield do we owe Lawn Tennis. This officer,
of the First Dragoon Guards, attempted, unsuccessfully, in 1874, to
procure a patent for a new game. He had taken the net out of doors,
and no longer did four walls encompass the players. A little pamphlet
is in existence now which fully establishes the claim of this officer
to the rightful title of inventor of lawn tennis. It is called “The
Major’s Game of Lawn Tennis; dedicated to the party assembled at
Nautelywdjin, December, 1873, by W. C. W.,” and is illustrated with
an elaborate pictorial diagram, containing a sketch of a lawn tennis
court, erected in a pretty garden. The only difference appreciable to
a modern player in the appearance of the court is that on one side it
is divided into two squares, and that on the other the server stands in
a diamond-shaped space. With slight exceptions, the game remains as it
did when Major Wingfield invented it.

Now, in 1881, as in the days of Henry III, of England (about 1222), it
is a favorite with people of superior rank, well befitting the tastes
of the nobility, in the performance of which they could exercise a
commendable zeal, as also their whole physique; that is to say, it is
the fashion. The name undoubtedly comes from Tennois, in the French
district of Champagne, where balls are manufactured, and where, it is
claimed, the game was first introduced.

A lawn, well clipped and evenly rolled, is the first requirement. The
courts should be laid rectangularly. The game should be gotten up with
reference to the wind, the net being set at right angles with it. Thus
will be avoided the tendency of air currents to carry the balls off or
beyond the bounds; and the play will be then against or with the wind.
In either case its influence can be more accurately calculated.

The lines of boundary and division should be indicated upon the
greensward by means of whitewash, carefully laid on with brush and
string. The larger or double court should be seventy-eight feet
long by a width of thirty-six feet, inside measure; and the smaller
or single-handed court seventy-eight by twenty-seven feet, inside
measurement. As in the old game of tennis, so in this, the court is
divided across the middle and at right angles to its greatest length
by a net, so stretched and fastened to and by two posts, standing
three feet outside of the side lines, that the height of the net at
each post for the double-handed or larger court is four feet, and in
the middle over the half-court line three feet six inches; and for the
single-handed or smaller court four feet nine inches at the posts, and
three feet in the middle over the half-court line. These divisions are
termed courts, and are subdivided into half-courts by a line midway
between the side lines, and running parallel with the greatest length,
which is known as the half-court line. The four resulting half-courts
are respectively divided by a line on each side of the net, parallel
to and twenty-two feet from it. These two lines, called service lines,
it may be observed, will then be seventeen feet inside of the lines of
boundary for the short sides, known as base lines.

The implements comprise net, posts, cordage, balls, and rackets.
The net should be taut, the posts straight, the ball hollow, of
India-rubber, covered with white cloth; in size, two inches and a half;
weight, two ounces. The racket is made with a frame of elastic wood,
with a webbing nicely wrought of catgut. The large-sized rackets made
at Philadelphia and in London are the best.

The players don a costume of flannel for the purpose, wearing shoes of
canvas with corrugated rubber soles, without heels. Indeed, a chapter
might be written on lawn-tennis dresses, aprons, and other fancies. But
these--so they are loose and easy, and not long or cumbrous--may be
left to the fancy of the individual.

The choice of sides and the right of serving are left to the chance of
toss, with the proviso that if the winner of the toss choose the right
to serve, the other player shall have the choice of sides, or _vice
versa_.

There are double-handed, three-handed, and four-handed games, each
having some variations. In the double-handed game the players stand on
opposite sides of the net. The player who first delivers the ball is
called the server, and the other the striker-out. The first game having
been played, these interchange; the server becomes the striker-out,
and the striker-out the server; and so alternately in subsequent games
of the set. The server usually announces the intention to serve by
the interrogation “Ready?” If answered affirmatively, the service is
made, the server standing with one foot outside the base line, and from
any part of the base line of the right and left counts alternately,
beginning with the right.

The ball so served is required to drop within the service line,
half-court line, and side line of the court which is diagonally
opposite to that from which it was served, where the service from the
base line must fall to be a service. If the ball served drops on or
beyond the service line, if it drops in the net, if it drops out of the
court, or on any of the lines which bound it, or if it drops in the
wrong court, or, if in attempting to serve, the server fails to strike
the ball, it is a “fault.” A fault can not be taken, but the ball must
be served the second time from the same court from which the fault was
served.

Though the service is made if the striker-out is not ready, the service
shall be repeated, unless an attempt is made to return the service
on the part of the striker-out; which action shall be construed to
be equivalent to having been ready. No service is allowed to be
“volleyed”; that is, the striker-out is not allowed to return a service
while the ball is “on the fly,” or before a “bounce.” If such a return
of service is made, it counts a stroke for the server.

To properly return a service, and have the ball in play, the ball is to
be played back over the net or between the posts before it has touched
the ground a second time, or while on the “first bounce,” and is
subject to no bounds other than the side and base lines of the court.
After the ball is in play, it may be struck while “on the fly,” but
policy would dictate a bounce to determine whether or not it has been
played beyond the boundaries of the court. A ball served, or in play,
may touch the net, and be a good service or return. If it touches the
top cord it is termed a “let,” a “life,” or a “net” ball, and need not
be played if it drops just inside the net, on the striker-out side,
but must be served again. Should it fall on the service side, or in
the wrong court on the striker-out side, or out of bounds, it counts a
“fault.” If, however, it falls so as to be a good return, in any stage
of the game other than service, it must be played as a good ball. In
play, if the striker-out volleys the service, or the ball in play,
or fails to return the service or the ball in play, or returns the
service or the ball in play so that it drops untouched by the server,
on or outside of any of the lines which bound the court, or if the
striker-out otherwise loses a stroke, as we will find presently, when
we consider the conditions common to both server and striker-out, the
server wins a stroke.

In the handling of the racket the greatest dexterity may be attained
by careful study and practice. The twist ball is a feature of the game
which good players utilize to the greatest advantage. The uncertainty
of its bounces is calculated to outwit the most adroit.

Since, under certain conditions of failure on the part of the
striker-out, the advantage in count of a stroke comes to the server,
so, too, the striker-out reaps a harvest if the server serves two
consecutive faults, or if the server fails to return the ball in play,
or if the server returns the ball in play so that it drops untouched
by the striker-out on or outside any of the lines which bound the
court, or if the server loses a stroke under conditions common to both
server and striker-out, in any of which cases the striker-out wins a
stroke. There are conditions under which each player loses a stroke:
If the service-ball, or ball in play, touches the player, or anything
worn or carried by him, except the racket in the act of striking; or
if the player strikes or touches the service-ball, or ball in play,
with the racket more than once; or if in returning the service-ball, or
ball in play, the player touches the net with any part of the body, or
with the racket, or with anything that is worn or carried; or if the
ball touches either of the posts; so if the player strikes the ball
before it has passed the net, or if the service-ball, or ball in play,
drops or falls upon a ball lying in either of the players’ courts.
So much for the conditions under which the players, either server or
striker-out, win or lose a stroke.

As for scoring, there are two systems, each of which has its adherents.
Both should be understood, and the more thoroughly the player
understands both, the more at ease will he be in any company with whom
he may be playing.

The first plan is this: The first stroke won counts for the player,
winning a score of fifteen; the second stroke won by the same player
counts for that player an additional score of fifteen, making a total
of thirty; the third stroke won counts for him an additional ten,
making the score forty. Unless there is a tie of forty, the fourth
stroke won by that player entitles him to score game. If, however,
both players have won three strokes, the score is called _deuce_, and
so on until at the score of deuce either player wins two consecutive
strokes, when the game is scored for that player. Six games constitute
a “set,” and the player who first wins them wins the set, unless in
case both players win five games, when the score is called “games-all,”
and the next game won by either player is scored advantage game for
that player. If the same player wins the next game he wins the set. If
he loses the next game, the score is again called “games-all”; and so
on until at the score of games-all either player wins two consecutive
games, when he wins the set. An exception to this is where an agreement
is entered into not to play advantage sets, but to decide the set by
one game after arriving at the score of games-all. In this mode of
scoring both the server and the striker-out are entitled to count,
while in the “alternative method” it is different.

An alternative method of scoring is as follows, in which the
term “hand-in” is substituted for “server,” and “hand-out” for
“striker-out.” In this system the hand-in alone is able to score. If he
loses a stroke he becomes hand-out, and his opponent becomes hand-in,
and serves his turn. Fifteen points won constitutes the game. If both
players have won fourteen points, the game is set to three, and the
score called “love-all.” The hand-in continues to serve, and the player
who first scores three points wins the game. If he or his partner loses
a stroke, the other side shall be hand-in. During the remainder of the
game, when the first hand-in has been put out, his partner shall serve,
beginning from the court from which the last service was not delivered,
and when both partners have been put out, then the other side shall be
hand-in.

The _hand-in_ shall deliver the service in accordance with the
restrictions mentioned for the server, and the opponents shall receive
the service alternately, each keeping the court which he originally
occupied. In all subsequent strokes the ball may be returned by either
partner on each side. The privilege of being hand-in two or more
successive times may be given.

What has been said of double-handed games applies equally well to the
three-handed and four-handed games, except that in the three-handed
game the single player shall serve in every alternate game; in the
four-handed game the pair who have the right to serve in the first game
may decide which partner shall do so, and the opposing pair may decide
similarly for the second game. The partner of the player who served in
the first game shall serve in the third, and the partner of the player
who served in the second game shall serve in the fourth, and so on. In
the same order, in all the subsequent games of a set or series of sets,
the players shall take the service alternately throughout each game.

No player shall receive or return a service delivered to his partner;
and the order of service and of striking-out once arranged, shall not
be altered; nor shall the strikers-out change courts to receive the
service before the end of the set. The players change sides at the
end of every set. When a series of sets is played, the player who was
server in the last game of one set shall be striker-out in the first
game of the next.

A _Bisque_ is one stroke which may be claimed by the receiver of the
odds at any time during a set, except that a bisque may not be taken
after the service has been delivered. The server may not take a bisque
after a fault, but the striker-out may do so. One or more bisques may
be given in augmentation or diminution of other odds.

_Half-fifteen_ is one stroke given at the beginning of the second and
every subsequent alternate game of a set.

_Fifteen_ is one stroke given at the beginning of every game of a set.

_Half-thirty_ is one stroke given at the beginning of the first game,
two strokes given at the beginning of the second game, and so on
alternately in all the subsequent games of a set.

_Thirty_ is two strokes given at the beginning of every game of a set.

_Half-forty_ is two strokes given at the beginning of the first game,
three strokes at the beginning of the second, and so on alternately in
all the subsequent games of the set.

_Forty_ is three strokes given at the beginning of every game of a set.

_Half-court_ is when the players having agreed into which court the
giver of the odds of half-court shall play, the latter loses a stroke
if the ball returned by him drops outside any of the lines which bound
that court.

If the game is to be umpired, there should be one for each side of the
net, who shall call play at the beginning of a game, enforce the rules,
and be sole judge of fair and unfair play, each on his respective side
of the net.

We have followed the best manual and the best opinions of the most
successful players in the above lengthy abstract for the use of
many who may be confused by the very absurd and contradictory rules
published in the newspapers. These rules of ours are those which were
used at Newport, at the Casino, during the famous Lawn Tournament of
1880, which was so very interesting, and in which the victors were
rewarded by prizes, from Mr. Bennett, of silver pitchers, bracelets,
and rings of great value; and which shows that the game of lawn tennis
deserved the high encomiums pronounced by Henry III on court tennis. It
is a game of science; it does exercise every part of the body; and it
requires skill, good temper, staying power, judgment, and activity.

Of course, few groups at home will play with the science and skill
displayed in these tournaments; yet the rules of the game should be
thoroughly learned, and those who play scientifically will avoid those
contentions and disputes which spoil any game.

It is better in giving a lawn-tennis party not to invite any but those
who really are devotees of the game. As to others, the absorption of
the players makes the party stupid.



XI.

GARDEN PARTIES.


A Garden Party is a scene of enchantment, to which the lawn-tennis net
lends an additional grace and variety.

A lady, living near a city, who chooses to inaugurate the season
with a garden party, sends her invitations a week in advance, and
carefully incloses a card telling her guests by what roads, railway
trains, and boats she may be reached. There must be no confusion or
lack of carriages at the end of the route. This hospitality must cover
everything. If the weather is fine and the distance short, ladies
generally drive to these entertainments in gay dresses and bonnets
or hats; for a garden party should look as much like a Watteau as
possible. Those who have had the advantage of seeing a garden party
in England--at Holland House, or at Buckingham Palace--will remember
how beautiful, finished, and gay a scene it is. A dressy parasol and a
fan hung at the side are indispensable. Ladies go either in the short
Amazonian dresses which the practice of games has made so fashionable,
or else in Worth’s last and most elegant trailing costumes, trusting to
the grass being dry, and knowing that they can sit on the piazza.

Most garden-party givers provide band music, which plays either in
the grand hall, or at some spot on the lawn where dancing can go on.
But our turf is not like the English turf, and modern dancing is not
that springing measure of “young Bertine,” as she bounds under the
walnut-trees of Southern France. So we can not count in dancing as one
of the usual pleasures of a garden party, unless a broad platform is
laid; and this has in its way a very pretty effect under the trees or
in a large tent.

A garden party is for all ages; so there should be in our uncertain
climate full provision for the elderly, who can not always spend an
afternoon on the lawn. Broad piazzas are very useful, and much enjoyed
by those who fear our treacherous malarious soil; and if one can not
exercise, it is better to sit on a piazza than on the grass.

As it is always prone to rain at picnics and garden parties, it is
better to have the refreshments in the house. Gentlemen can run into
the banquet-hall and get a plate of lobster-salad for a lady, or the
waiters can carry the refreshments about; but for a sudden shower of
rain to descend on a table is miserable, and defeats the object of the
table.

The lady of the house, however, often improvises a hasty roof or
covering for her table, put up by the carpenter at a small outlay, if
she is determined to have everything _al fresco_. Frozen coffee, iced
tea, punch, ice-cream croquets, salads, jellies, pressed turkey, potted
meats, _pâté de foie gras_, and sandwiches, are spread about. Do not
attempt any hot dishes at a garden party; they are out of place, and
impossible.

The garden party is said to be “the first hybrid which unites society
and nature.” It is a growing taste with us Americans, and will grow
to be a greater favorite as time goes on. The popularity of the game
of archery, that relic of Robin Hood and Maid Marion, “that vision
of Lincoln green,” is now added to lawn tennis, croquet, and “_les
Graces_,” as one of the most popular features of a garden party. One
would think that there was nothing needed but the long sweep of the
trees upon the lawn, the vision of the distant city, the flower-beds
where geraniums and calceolaria vie in color, the “pleached alley,”
the buttercup in the grass, the Watteau-like picture, or groups of gay
ladies and gallant cavaliers causing “unpremeditated effects” to make
the garden party agreeable. But there is always a need of preparation
for such a party. No lady should trust alone to the power of her guests
to amuse themselves. She must do all that she can.

In the country a lady can wait for a day of fine weather, and invite
her guests only the day before. The grounds and garden walks, the lawn
tennis, the archery, should all be in order, and a few chairs out
under the trees. It is not long before all her guests begin to enjoy
themselves in their own way, and to appreciate how much better a room
is made by the Gothic arch of the trees than by any sort of cramped-up
house arrangement.

One can be more general in the invitations to a garden party than to
any other; for if people like each other they can group together, and
if they do not, they can easily walk apart, and get rid of each other.
In a small room, particularly at a dinner party, how two people can
glow and glare at each other, to the dreadful dismay of the hostess!
But at a garden party Nature is too wide for them. They are almost
obliged to seem amused whether they are or not. If not at all amused,
they can, however, go and sulk under the lilacs. Those fragrant
vegetables will not care whether the guests sulk or smile.

Every country house has its charms. How lovely a garden party can be
given at the Locusts, when all those trees are in flower, sending down
the perfume of Araby the Blest! How the perfume reminds one of St.
John’s Gardens, Oxford, when the lime-trees are in bloom, and every
bough is laden with wild bees who make a music as they sip! A flowering
tree is the most perfect thing which Adam and Eve saved from Paradise.
One seems, in inhaling its fragrance, to have just recovered from a
long illness.

The best part of a spring or early summer garden party is this first
whiff of fragrance which is brought to the disused or insulted nostril
of the city. We little know until then how the most aristocratic of the
senses has been wronged. We are always, and all of us, most patient
over our city bad smells until we go into the country and realize what
a bath of delicious odors a forest is--a bit of woodland, a field of
growing grass, one sweet cherry-tree, an apple-blossom, a violet! The
perfume of lilacs is the perfume of luxury; and the first scythe of
the mower, as it sweeps through the young blood of the grass, reveals
a thousand scent-bottles all uncorked for our use. A lady in giving
a garden party should always have a bundle of new-mown hay somewhere
about the grounds.

And at the garden party what may not those who sit on the benches
remember? All the sprightly, frivolous, charming figures who seem to
have posed for us at garden parties in France! Philippe d’Orléans and
La Phalaris; the Duc de Richelieu and the Abbess de Chelles; Watteau,
Voltaire, Carmargo; Louis XV, with Pompadour and Du Barry; Boucher
and Vanloo; Greuze, Voisenon, and Bernis; Guimaud and Sophie Arnould;
Crébillon, the tragic, and Dancourt, the gay! What a faithful study of
naiads and hamadryads did the beautiful women of these days suggest to
the artists at those garden parties when, toward the end of spring,
the trees were in blossom, and the enameled grass carpeted the parks!
Madame de Pompadour asked Louis XV to come and see her hermitage!
Venus, Hebe, Diana the huntress, the three Graces--all were in order!
The garden itself a masterpiece of attraction--a wood, rather than a
garden--a wood peopled with statues, formed of verdant and odorous
arcades, of charming groves, of dark, shaded retreats. Such was the
_Parc aux Cerfs_.

We think again of the rose-tree of Jean Jacques at the hermitage. We
remember Dufresny, who “studied love in his heart, grandeur at the
court, war upon the field of battle, architecture in the erection of
buildings, _nature in his garden_, music in song.” Dufresny was in love
with gardens. A poet, a friend of Louis XIV, he loved roses better than
any other luxury. It was he who broke up the stiff, old-fashioned plan
of gardening at Vincennes, and introduced Nature with her charming
caprices and fairy fantasies. It was he who said, “Cultivating roses,
marking out paths, planting hedges, is the same as writing sonnets,
songs, and poems.” In his day a picturesque garden was often called
“_à la Dufresny_.” Under his rule Versailles became what it is. “I
shall never be poor while I have a garden!” said he to the King. “I
find there the green vine-tendrils, or the roses, for a crown.” To him
verdant prospects were real terrestrial paradises.

We can remember how the boy Florian gathered cherries, and forgot his
Greek and Latin! We remember him, in Voltaire’s garden, naming the
poppies after the faithless Trojans. The most beautiful he called
“Hector,” and then demolished him with a blow from his wooden sword.
Later, when he had grown up, still wandering in gardens, he wrote his
eclogues, poems, dramas, fables, and “Numa Pompilius.” His style has
all the tender freshness, the brilliancy, the perfume, the clear color,
of a “garden party.” It is an idyl of primroses and dandelions.

We hardly think of Buffon at a garden party. (When Voltaire heard of
his “Natural History”--“Not so _natural_,” said the great wit.) The
laborious and tranquil life of the great author of the “Garden of
Plants” seems out of place at a garden party, and yet he lived and
wrote in a garden. He submitted Nature to a crucible, and tore a lily
to pieces to see of what it was made; and yet he brought together the
flowers and trees of all nations. We admire, but do not love Buffon.

We cross the Channel and see, in imagination, the Princess Anne with
Lady Castlemaine and Miss Stuart, Lady Churchill, and all their
friends, loftily walking in the groves and alleys of Spring Gardens,
emerging into St. James’s Park. The glories of Bird-Cage Walk come
back to us. From these models did Colley Cibber get his “Lady Betty
Modish,” and what a pretty, stylish, affected model it was! Lovely
Lady Fitzhardinge was of the Princess’s party, and later, when Lady
Churchill became Duchess of Marlborough, what garden parties at
Blenheim!

A garden party always brings back Lady Mary Wortley Montague, who left
many an account of those stately old-time gardens at Rome, Florence,
Naples, Genoa, Avignon--not to speak of the early adventures at
Twickenham, and later at Strawberry Hill. All England is a garden. The
garden party is possible anywhere.

And the beautiful Duchess of Devonshire and Mrs. Crewe! How they adorn
a garden party! We almost see the splendid cream-colored horses of
George III drive up past Carleton Gardens, to proceed in solemn state
to St. James’s, as we hear the low, rippling laughter of the two
beauties in brocade.

The Prince of Wales forgot his two hundred thousand pounds of debts as
he received the Buffs and Blues at a garden party, which began at noon
and continued all night, at Carleton House. The Duchess of Devonshire
was then lady paramount of the aristocratic whig circles, in which rank
and literature were blended with political aspirations. It was she who
canvassed for Fox, and allowed the butcher to kiss her for his vote;
and to her was paid the compliment, highly prized, by the link-boy who
asked if he “might light his pipe at her eyes.” These women seem to
have lived in garden parties.

Sweet Madame de Sévigné, with her children, at _Les Rochers_, and later
at Paris, talking gayly under the trees of her garden, with Corneille,
Racine, Molière, La Fontaine, and Boileau, again wins us back across
the Channel, and back a hundred years or so.

Garden parties have this advantage: they are like Madame de Staël’s
age--“not dated.” They are of all time. Madame de Sévigné’s garden
party comprised Pascal, Bourdaloue, Mascaron, Bossuet, the restless De
Retz, the Scotchman Montrose, La Rochefoucauld, Marshal Turenne, Le
Grand Colbert, and Condé. The ladies were the Duchess de Longueville,
the political _intrigante_ of the Fronde; the penitent La Vallière;
the heartless Maintenon; Madame de Montespan; the Comtesse d’Olonne,
daughter of Madame de Rambouillet, and one of the _Précieuses_; Madame
de La Fayette, the authoress of “Zaide.” Alas, and alas! we could
not get together such a garden party of to-day! No! not if we had a
fortnight’s time before us, and all the wealth of the Indies.

Madame de Sévigné was that delightful combination--a beauty, a wit, and
a _femme d’esprit_. As an instance of the flattery to which even genius
stooped in speaking to a monarch who loved flattery and adulation more
than anything, she relates an answer made by Racine to Louis XIV when
that sovereign expressed his regret that the poet had not accompanied
the army in its last campaign. “Sire,” said Racine, “we had none but
town-clothes, and had ordered others to be made; but the places you
attacked were all taken before they could be finished.” “This,” adds
Madame de Sévigné, “was well received.”

It is in her famous correspondence with her daughter that we find many
an account of a garden party, or a _fête_, which we should gladly have
seen, and which at our own garden parties we are glad to remember. Her
letters contain much talk on books, religion, philosophy, and politics;
on the frowns and smiles of the great monarch; the favor accorded to
this courtier, the disgrace of that; the marriage contracted, the
_bons mots_ circulated. But it is upon society that she is strongest.
She loved nature, too, in a Frenchwoman’s way. When she walked the
garden of her uncle, the Abbé, at Livry, or far away in the solitudes
of Brittany, she rejoiced in the song of the nightingale, in the change
of the leaf, in the glad freshness of the air. She is a poet, without
meaning it. Her garden-party letters are her best letters.

Very stately must have been those garden parties at Wilton, when Ben
Jonson and Philip Massinger afforded amusement to the intellectual
great. The Masque, an entertainment of the rich and noble in the time
of Elizabeth and James I, called out the powers of these men. The
actors were people of the highest class, sometimes royal personages,
the masques always in the open air. Dancing and music were introduced.
These various actors learned their parts under the tutorship of the
Master of the Revels. Lawes composed music, to which the poetry
of Jonson was sung; and the scenes, decorations, and dresses were
contrived and executed by Inigo Jones. Certain great families copied
the example of the court, and ordered masques to be written, and played
at their own country-seats; calling in for the choruses the children
of the Chapel Royal, who were regularly trained to take their part
in masques. At Wilton, at Belvoir Castle, at Whitehall, at Windsor,
these charming but costly diversions were carried on. Ben Jonson might
have been heard scolding and working over these garden parties at
the house of the beautiful Mary Sidney, sister to the author of the
“Arcadia,” who was afterward Countess of Pembroke. She often gave these
entertainments at Wilton. She there received Queen Elizabeth, Walter
Raleigh, the Earl of Essex, Will Shakespeare, Spenser, and Cecil.
Philip Massinger was in her servants’ hall, a humble retainer. The
pious Countess, for her solemn hours, had Dr. Donne, most devoted of
servitors. The death of her noble brother, Philip Sidney, broke her
heart, and there were no more garden parties at Wilton. We all know
how Walter Scott has described these garden parties in “Kenilworth.”
Indeed, they make us rather out of love with our later attempts.

Once in our own land a masque was attempted, the famous _Mischianza_ of
Major André, on the Delaware, at Philadelphia. Had not he and Arnold
gone out together in that rather sad way, we might like to tell of that
garden party, but we will skip it.

After all, man was born, the race was started, in a garden. Adam and
Eve held the first garden party. What a pity that the serpent crawled
in!



XII.

DANCING.


Dancing is so well known to all young people as a Home Amusement that
it seems perhaps _banale_ to describe it. A glance at the dances now
fashionable may, however, not be out of place.

From the Virginia Reel to the German Cotillon is indeed a bound.
Our grandfathers were taught to dance the Pirouette, the delicate
Pigeon-wing--indeed, all the paces of the dance such as it was when
Vestris bounded before Louis XVI. When commanded to dance before him,
the dancer loftily replied: “The House of Vestris has always danced for
that of Bourbon.”

Dancing then was an accomplishment. Who does not recollect seeing some
grandfather still “taking his steps”? Now at the most is permitted the
Galop, which has the needed element of jollity without coarseness. It
is _l’allegro_ of the ballroom. The Gambrinus Polka also lights up
the ballroom occasionally. With these vivacious exceptions, dancing
is reduced to the Waltz--_la valse à trois temps_--the various steps
of which consist of the Hop-Waltz, the Glide-Waltz, the Redowa, and
the Waltz proper. The Boston “Dip,” the “Racket,” and the “Society,”
are spurious. They are not taught by the best dancing masters. They
are “rowdy,” but some people, desirous of notoriety, do dance them at
the Charity Ball. As a famous dancing authority observes, “Did such a
style of dancing prevail, dancing must go down; its enemies would have
unanswerable arguments against it.” The dance of society is now quiet,
easy, natural, modest, and graceful. Those who would make it otherwise
must remember that they are copying the excesses of the _Bal Mabille_.

The spurious dances mentioned above are ridiculed in “Punch” as the
“pivotal” dances. The Redowa is a pretty form of the Waltz. It is
composed of a step known as the _pas de basque_. Its movements are
indicated as a _fête à glissé_ and a _coupé dessous_; the feet,
however, are never raised from the floor.

The Galop is a great favorite with the Swedes, Danes, and Russians; it
has a Viking force in it; while the Redowa reminds one of the graceful
Viennese, who dance it so well. The Mazourka, danced to the wild Polish
Mazourka measure, is a more poetical dance, and has many a poem written
to its honor; but it rarely appears seen at a fancy-dress ball.

The German Cotillon, born many years ago in a Viennese palace to meet
the requirements of court etiquette, is now the favorite dance at home
and at balls, as a way of finishing the evening. Its favors, beginning
with flowers, ribbons, and bits of tinsel, have ripened into fans,
bracelets, gold scarf-pins, and pencil-cases, and many other things
even more expensive. Favors now often cost $5,000 for one fashionable
ball. So the German, thus conducted, can scarcely be called a Home
Amusement.

To dance by the firelight to the music of the piano is a _Home_
Amusement. And if there be a good old kitchen, with a hard floor, into
which a negro fiddler can be introduced, and where the _contra-danse_
can be also added, and the evening can end with Virginia Reel--this is
a Home Amusement. The old-fashioned quadrilles, the Lancers--dances in
which old and young can join--these are home dances!

“There is something so _conscientious_ about papa’s dancing,” said
a profane youth who was watching his estimable parent through the
decidedly complicated mazes of Money Musk. Youth will always laugh
at age when it attempts the accomplishments. That is a real dance,
however, when papa, mamma, and the children all join in, and when Jane,
aged seven, leads out grandpa. How Dickens luxuriates in Mr. Fizziwig’s
dancing at the Christmas supper in the “Christmas Carol”! Dickens could
never have made the “_German_” so pathetic or so funny!

All fashion polishes off the edges, and causes an aristocratic icing
to form over the outside of any expression of jollity; so no wonder
that fashionable dancing has become a _glissé_. It would not be well
to attempt any gay dancing at a fashionable ball--that would look like
romping; but surely in the old kitchen, in the private parlor, at
Christmas, on birthdays, one is allowed to romp a little.

The German is a dance of infinite variety, and a leader of original
fancy constructs new figures constantly. The Waltz, Galop, Redowa, and
Polka steps occur in its many changes. There is a slow walk in the
quadrille figures; a stately march; the bows and courtesies of the old
minuet; and, above all, the _tour de valse_, which is the means of
locomotion from place to place. The changeful exigencies of the various
figures lead the forty or fifty or the two hundred people to meet,
exchange greetings, dance with each other, change their geographical
position many times; and the Grand Army of the Republic did not have a
more varied scope.

The Kaleidoscope is one of the prettiest figures. The four couples
perform a _tour de valse_, then form as for a quadrille; the next four
couples in order take positions behind the first four couples, each
of the latter couples facing the same as the couples in front. At a
signal from the leader, the ladies of the inner couples cross right
hands, move entirely round, and turn into places by giving left hands
to their partners; at the same time the outer couples waltz half round
to opposite places. At another signal, the inner couples waltz entirely
round, and finish facing outward; at the same time the outer couples
_chassé croisé_, and turn at corners with right hands, then _dechassé_,
and turn partners with left hands. _Valse générale_ with _vis-à-vis_.

Another pretty figure is _La Corbeille, l’Anneau, et la Fleur_. The
first couple performs a _tour de valse_, after which the gentleman
presents the lady with a little basket containing a ring and a flower,
then resumes his seat. The lady presents the ring to one gentleman, the
flower to another, and the basket to a third. The gentleman to whom
she presents the ring selects a partner for himself; the gentleman
who receives the flower dances with the lady who presents it, while
the other gentleman holds the basket in his hand and dances alone.
Counterpart for the others in their order.

_Le Miroir_ is another very pretty figure. The first couple performs
a _tour de valse_. The gentleman seats his lady upon a chair in the
middle of the room, and presents her with a small mirror. The leader
then selects a gentleman from the circle, and conducts him behind her
chair. The lady looks in the mirror, and if she decline the partner
offered, by turning the mirror over or shaking her head, the leader
continues to offer partners until the lady accepts. The gentlemen
refused return to their seats, or select partners and join in the
_valse_.

_Le Cavalier Trompé_ is another favorite figure. Five or six couples
perform a _tour de valse_. They afterward place themselves in ranks
of two, one couple behind the other. The lady of the first gentleman
leaves him, and seeks a gentleman of another column. While this is
going on, the first gentleman must not look behind him. The first
lady and the gentleman whom she has selected separate and advance on
tiptoe on each side of the column, in order to deceive the gentleman
at the head, and endeavor to join each other for a waltz. If the first
gentleman is fortunate enough to seize his lady, he leads off in a
waltz. If not, he must remain at his post until he is able to take a
lady. The last gentleman remaining dances with the last lady.

_Les Chaînes Continues_ is another good figure. The first four couples
perform a _tour de valse_. Each gentleman chooses a lady, and each lady
a gentleman. The gentlemen place themselves in line, and the ladies
form a line opposite. The first gentleman on the left gives his right
hand to the right hand of his lady, and turns entirely around with
her. He gives his left hand to the left hand of the next lady, while
his lady does the same with the next gentleman. The gentleman and lady
again meet, and turn with right hands, and then turn with left hands
the third lady and gentleman, and so on to the last couple. As soon
as the leader and his lady reach the fourth couple, the second couple
should start, so that there may be a continuous chain between the
ladies and gentlemen. When all have regained their original places in
line, they terminate the figure by a _tour de valse_.

A very pretty figure, and easily furnished, is called _Les Drapeaux_.
Five or six duplicate sets of small flags of national or fancy devices
must be in readiness. The leader takes a flag of each pattern, and his
lady the duplicates; they perform a _tour de valse_. The conductor then
presents his flags to five or six ladies, and his lady presents the
corresponding flags to as many gentlemen. The gentlemen then seek the
ladies having the duplicates, and with them perform a _tour de valse_,
waving the flags as they dance. Repeated by all the couples.

Another of the favorite combinations is _Les Rubans_. Six ribbons, each
about a yard in length, and of various colors, are attached to one end
of a stick about twenty-four inches in length; also a duplicate set of
ribbons, attached to another stick, must be in readiness. The first
couple perform a _tour de valse_, and then separate. The gentleman
takes one set of ribbons, and stops successively in front of the ladies
whom he desires to select to take part in the figure. Each of these
ladies rises, and takes hold of the loose end of a ribbon. The first
lady takes the other set of ribbons, bringing forward six gentlemen
in the same manner. The first couple conduct the ladies and gentlemen
toward each other, and each gentleman dances with the lady holding
the ribbon duplicate of his own. The first gentleman dances with his
partner. The figure is repeated by the other couples in their order.

To give a German, a lady should have all the furniture removed from her
parlors, a crash spread over the carpet, and a set of folding-chairs
introduced for the couples to sit in. The great trouble of this
proceeding is what has led to the giving of Germans, in large cities,
at private balls or in public places. It is considered that all taking
part in a German are formally introduced, and upon no condition
whatever must a lady, so long as she remains in the German, refuse to
dance with any gentleman whom she may chance to receive as a partner.
Every American must learn that he should speak to every one whom he
meets in a friend’s house, if necessary, without an introduction, as
the friend’s house _is_ an introduction. So in the German, the very
fact that _guests are there_ is an introduction.

In taking a review of the German we may as well say that, in a country
house, the making of the favors is a very pretty amusement. The ribbons
are easily bought at the village store. The same gold-paper and tinsel
which furnishes forth the private theatricals will do for the orders
and insignia, and the prettiest bouquets come from the garden. These
hastily-improvised home Germans are very amusing and very pretty.

The laws of the German are, however, so strict, and so tiresome
occasionally, that a good many parties have abjured it, and now dance
some of its figures without a leader, and as sporadic attempts. A
leader for the German needs many of the same qualities as the leader
of an army. He must have a comprehensive glance, a quick ear and
eye, and a very great belief in himself. He must have the talent of
command, and make himself seen and felt. He must be full of resource
and quick-witted. With all these qualities he must have tact. It is no
easy matter to get two hundred dancers into all sorts of combinations,
to get them out of it, to offend nobody, but to produce that elegant
kaleidoscope which we call “the German.”

The term _tour de valse_ is used technically, meaning that the couple
or couples performing it will execute the round dance designated by
the leader once around the room. Should the room be small, they make
a second tour. After the introductory _tour de valse_, care must be
taken by those who perform it not to select ladies and gentlemen from
each other, but from among those who are seated. When the leader claps
his hands to warn those who are prolonging the _valse_, they must
immediately cease dancing.

The religious objection to dancing having almost died out, we recommend
all parents to have their children taught to dance. It is a necessary
thing toward physical culture. It is the most embarrassing thing
for a man later in life to find himself without the grace which
dancing brings. Nothing contributes so much to Home Amusement as the
informal dance. Nothing can be more innocent. If, in after-life, this
accomplishment leads to late hours and to reckless love of pleasure, we
must remember that all good things can be abused.



XIII.

GARDENS AND FLOWER-STANDS.


The making of gardens is decidedly and judiciously conceded to be a
Home Amusement, and it is a pity that the new fashion of bedding-out
plants, which is so beautiful in our public parks and in the pleasure
grounds of the rich, should have seemed to so utterly do away with a
taste for the old-fashioned gardens of early English poetry--of Miss
Mitford, of every sweet New England dame of the early days, who had
her garden, with its “pretty posies,” and its bed of sweet marjoram,
lavender, and sage. It is, however, a hopeful sign to see in remote
country towns some effort to keep up the old-fashioned idea of a pretty
flower-plot, and there are always women who have the gift of making
flowers “blow” and grow in a quiet way.

Yet science can help to bring the old-fashioned garden to perfection,
as well as to make those artificial beds of many-leaved coleus,
and steadier groups. Every garden design, every project of garden
furnishing, and every item of garden work, should be governed by this
consideration, that it is hard work to fight against Nature, and there
is seldom thus a conquest worth obtaining. Aim modestly to gain a
victory over the easily-cultivated native flowers at first, and you
will secure enjoyment.

Fortunately, if gardening is pursued with earnestness, every soil and
every climate will be found to produce some flowers in rare beauty
and in unexpected luxuriance. Geometric plans, if well carried out,
are very pretty, and the amateur gardener should learn to mass her
geraniums, petunias, and pansies, her gladioli, roses, marigolds, and
poppies, so as to give a good and really splendid result of color.
Nature takes care to send us delicate, pale yellows and lilacs in
Spring in her sweet daffy-down-dilly, and the elegant _fleurs-de-lis_;
and the peonies come on mildly with pink and white before they dash
into red. Then come the Turkish carpets of the portulaca, and so on
until midsummer blazes with poppies, gladioli, and all the gorgeous
zinnias. These may all be found in the commonest garden, without
mentioning the larkspur, the mignonette, the petunia and the sweet-pea,
and a thousand other charming common flowers. The delightful flowers
which sow themselves, and those hardy bulbs, the crocus, tulip, lily
of the valley, snowdrop, and hyacinth, should not be neglected. A
quantity of white-lily bulbs stowed away in the garden reward one
year after year with their elegant flowers and fragrance at no cost
whatever. Pansies, daisies, and polyanthus keep from season to season,
and carnation pinks need to be two years old before they will blossom,
while the chrysanthemums make the garden gay in October.

Now for borders to the garden beds. Common grass is the best and
easiest, as the gardener’s boy can cut it with a sickle each week
and keep it from spreading. Or the little, cheap mosses make a
pretty border, as does the periwinkle, which looks so like myrtle.
To attempt a border of the gorgeous coleus requires a hothouse and
an accomplished gardener. In the common large country garden rows of
hollyhocks, as against a stone wall, or marking out the long walks,
are most ornamental. Dahlias also are very good in groups. Phlox,
that much-abused plant, is also pretty in masses. Asters too, of many
varieties, delight the eye, and are easy of culture. In trying to raise
shrubs, why not take the American wild pink, or azalea, the laurel and
the rhododendron, and, by studying up their habits, capture them?

The best soil for the rhododendron is a peat containing much sand and
much vegetable fiber. Any clean, pulverized product of vegetable decay
will like them. It is their native food. The laurel is capricious,
and resents the act of transplantation; but they will flourish if
planted thick enough. They love company, and thrive in it. The best
way to treat them is to study their quality, and to give them the same
conditions which made them grow so luxuriantly on the hill-side.

But if even these plants resist you, every lady loves a rosarium, and
it will go hard with her but she has a rose garden somewhere. The
gardeners now sell one hundred rose roots for a dollar, at Rochester,
and if planted out and attended to they give a million of dollars in
pleasure back again.

Some ladies understand budding, and this is a very interesting process.
In this way an army of sweetbriers can be covered with yellow Marshal
Neills and royal Jacqueminots. To propagate by layers is, however, the
easiest way, if, indeed, one does not prefer to buy them all started.
For garden roses we need vigorous growers that are sure to flower
freely, and will contribute to the gayety of the garden. One of the
best--the old-fashioned damask--if set out well, will blossom for
thirty years. A very effective garden of roses is produced by roses
pegged down. A deep, rather rich, loamy soil is to be prepared, the
position selected being rather open. When the plants are about a foot
high peg down the strongest growths. The rose prefers a firm soil.
Those who desire to have firm blooms the second season must cut off a
few inches of the flowering wood as soon as the first bloom is over,
and give the beds a thorough soaking of manure or sewage-water every
third or fourth day. But in this, as in every sort of cultivation of
an especial flower, one should buy an especial treatise on the subject.

Every lady gardener is troubled by insect pests--the horrid green
canker-worm, the little green louse, the potato-bug; these are
everywhere. One fights them with all sorts of powders and all sorts of
syringes. One very simple cure is not generally known. It is to plant
a lettuce beside your rose; the vermin prefers the lettuce. It is the
same principle which induced the rich owner of a wine-cellar to put
a barrel of whisky beside his best Madeira; the whisky went, but the
Madeira stayed. Dirty flower-pots, filled with dry moss, put in the
neighborhood, will catch large numbers of these gentry, for vermin are
fond of dirt. Dusting with powdered lime, or sulphurized tobacco-dust,
will kill the insects which destroy the asters. Lettuces also save the
asters, and a bed of green lettuce is not an ugly “bedding-out” plant.

No manure is so good as that common rotted vegetation of the forest.
Bring a pailful home from every drive, and it will make your flowers
grow. Nothing, also, so good as this for that lovely flower, the pansy,
which thus recalls its early start in the forest, The pansy does not
require much water, but in very hot, dry weather the beds should be
sprinkled at night with a watering-pot.

But these few directions may seem impertinent, as every lady has now
the most ample means of reading up about her garden. The cultivation
of a few flowers in the house--window gardening--is by far the more
essentially a Home Amusement. And, as almost everybody has once bought
a lot of greenhouse plants but to see them fade before her eyes, we
recommend to all to either raise a slip from the root or to start very
young plants in a dark room. Thus accustomed to the atmosphere of the
house they are to live in, they do sometimes live.

The hardier roses, the calla-lily, all the geraniums (useful dear
creatures), the violets and the pinks, grow well in the house. Hanging
pots of calceolarias and healthy primroses are also possible. Some
ladies can raise azaleas at home, but they are difficult. Then there
is the kangaroo-vine, and the Jerusalem, and all the other very hardy
vines. If a large ivy-vine can he induced to grow over a picture-frame,
it is a beautiful friend in midwinter.

Then come the delightful hanging baskets, the Wardian fern-cases,
the ornamental stands of pot-plants, and the indoor box of earth for
planting rice and grass seed, the wild flowers, which now have become
exotics, and all the pretty fancies of throwing seed over a wet sponge.
Anything green in winter looks lovely. Nothing more charming than the
branches of nasturtion growing in water can be imagined. They grow
and flower all winter, and the blue convolvulus flourishes well in a
hanging basket; so do the common morning-glory and the scarlet bean,
both delightful, airy visitors at Christmas.

A wire-work ox-muzzle, filled with moss, makes an admirable basket.
It should be painted dark green, and hang over a box of growing
flowers, so that it can drip when watered and hurt nothing. Put in
the ivy-leaved geranium to drop over its edges; fuchsia, variegated
geranium, bright blue lobelia, and the healthful dracænas, begonias,
and sedums also make a very pretty combination. The gardeners give you
wooden baskets filled with flowers, and ivy, and ferns, but it is Home
Amusement to make these baskets yourself.

Fern-cases are delightful as winter friends. Wardian cases can be
made very cheaply, and their perpetual condensation and shower is
a very pretty study in physics. A large case, in which large-sized
ferns can be accommodated, is best. As regards cultivation, the first
thing that demands attention is the drainage of the case; for, if that
is defective, neither ferns nor any other plants can be cultivated
successfully. In order to secure good drainage the case should be
fitted with a false bottom, into which the water may drain through
perforated zinc or iron, on which the rock-work and little bank for
the ferns should be placed. The false bottom, being a little kind of
tank or drainer, should be perfectly water-tight, so as to protect the
carpet, and should have a tap fixed in one corner of it, by means of
which the surplus water should be drained off.

To be able to give free ventilation to the plants every morning is
another essential point, as a stagnant atmosphere is as injurious to
plants as it is to young children. Over the perforated tray of the
case a good layer of broken pottery should be laid, and this should be
covered with cocoanut fiber, on which the rock-work should be laid.
The space in which it is intended that the ferns are to grow should
then be filled in; and nothing is better than peat, rotten turf, and
sharp grit sand as a soil for ferns. In the parts of the case intended
for the planting of rather strong-growing ferns a larger proportion
of rotten turf should be mixed with the peat than in those intended
for less robust varieties. The _adiantum pedatum_ (maidenhair),
_capillus veneris_, _pteris tessulata_, _eretica_, _albo lineata_,
_polypodium vulgare_, _acrophorus chairophyllus_, _hispidus anemia
adiantifolia_, _asplenium striatum_, _bulbiferum_, with _trichomanes_
and _lelazinellas_, are all useful, pretty ferns for these cases. If
the fern-case be large, it might be advisable to have an arch reaching
from end to end.

But any intelligent gardener will tell more in an hour than we
could do in a week on the subject of ferns. Many ladies delight in
selecting these lovely aristocrats of the forest themselves. They
find no difficulty in arranging a little family of native ferns in an
improvised Ward’s case; and this pursuit, as a reason for a woodland
ramble and a subsequent fit of industry on the back piazza, is one
which has no end as a Home Amusement.

Plant-stands for halls are very favorite decorations nowadays; but, of
course, the plants must be hardy, as they will be subject to sudden
changes of temperature. One lady made a fine effect by cultivating
young pine-trees, spruces, and firs in the large stone jars of her
hall. Cocoanut palms or India-rubber plants are the favorite exotics.
Hardy ferns group in well for these hall plant-stands. In the bottom
of each jar should be placed some broken pottery, for drainage, placed
so that the moisture will drain down through the fragments without the
soil choking the jar. Over the potsherds a little cocoanut moss should
be placed, and then a mixture of leaf-mold, rotten turf and peat,
and glass-maker’s sand, to keep the whole porous. On the surface of
the pots and between them should be put wood moss, as in the case of
stands for sitting-rooms. A common seed-pan, filled with _selaginalla
denticulata_ dropped into a small vase, has a fine effect; long sprays
grow out over the sides of the vase and drop down eight to ten inches.

In an ordinary apartment, where the window-sills are not wide enough
to hold flower-pots, the plan of wire stands is an admirable one for
the window gardener. A piece of oil-cloth under the stand catches
all the drippings, and a servant-girl with a wiping-towel can clean
up all the _débris_. Soft-wooded plants and those with soft leaves
should be arranged as near the window as possible; and if rearranged
and turned against the light often, so much the better. Hard-leaved
plants, like ivy and the India-rubber plant, may be put anywhere away
from the light. But most plants need light before anything. The _yucca
quadricolor_, so much used in the decorative house-jars or vases,
becomes beautifully tinted with crimson if it has enough light. Now,
if a lady has not room for many rustic _jardinières_ and ornamental
flower-stands in her room, she can have zinc-pans and pots, neatly
enameled and painted, set on the floor, in which her larger plants
may be put out, This is a very good idea for grouping; for she thus
produces in her _tout ensemble_ some of the wild confusion and grace of
Nature.

A climbing rose should go scattering itself over an imperceptible wire
trellis. A geranium should steadily blossom beneath. A group of yucca,
agave, dracæna, Jerusalem cherry, should form a distinct and effective
grouping below. And then beautiful trailing plants should drop from
hanging baskets, and from every “coigne of vantage.” Ivy grows well
in the shade, and may be employed for trailing around sofas, couches,
_tête-à-tête_ chairs, and picture-frames. Ladies sometimes tie a
bottle of water behind a picture-frame, and allow the long shoots of
nasturtion to grow out as if from the wall. The effect is startling.
Mirrors are often cunningly placed behind a flowering plant which is
growing in a hanging basket against the wall, thus doubling the effect.

As the days grow shorter, and the winter threatens to come upon us
apace, we are always tempted to bring in from the garden the flowers
that we think will last. Just before the fatal frosts, roots of
mignonette should be planted in pots and put in a dark closet for a few
days, where the plant takes root and accommodates itself to its change
of base. It will make a room sweet all winter.

A lady can make all sorts of ornamental flower-pot coverings, and
herself arrange pretty leather and paper standard covers for the ugly
but useful flower-pot of commerce; or she can buy at most country
potteries some very artistic flower-pots--also useful. And to put
red, green, and blue glass tubes for hyacinths among these gives her
window a very pretty effect. The very study of color in these minor
matters adds much to her window garden. It is lucky for all lovers of
beauty that beauty is now cheap. Art is putting her slender foot down
everywhere; and it is almost possible, in a remote country village, to
get the delicate classic shapes in cheap pottery which the cultivated
Greeks imagined three thousand years ago.

For internal decoration by means of cut flowers, it seems almost absurd
to attempt to delineate the proper thing to do; for, if a lady has
taste, she will know without being told. But some few hints may not
appear impertinent.

For the breakfast-table and dinner-table fresh flowers are almost
indispensable. The pretty, cheap, and useful combinations of glass
and silver, of china and pottery, which are made to hold flowers, are
innumerable. Select a high vase, and fill it every day with fresh
grasses, a few daisies, or some graceful ferns combined with white
lilies, and you have always a superb center-piece.

For the summer, a large lump of ice covered with flowers, in a silver
or glass dish, is delightfully refreshing. It also keeps away the
flies. In grand party decorations ice is now freely used, and if
some way can be devised to get the refuse water out of the way, it
will be always a good thing for a country party or at a grand _fête_
at Newport. For great blocks of ice covered with vines and flowers,
lighted from behind, have a splendid effect. They cool the air and keep
all the flowers fresh. Flowers, when cut, demand coolness; and the
effect of the white crystal column is always beautiful.

Some ladies have a large tub put in the corner of the room, and the
pyramid of ice placed in that. Then the tub can be masked by moss,
branches of trees, evergreen, or any floral device, and the ice is
draped with garlands. At a _fête_ at Newport, in 1879, this ice
decoration was much admired. At a ball given by the Prince of Wales
to the Czarina of Russia in the large conservatory of the Royal
Horticultural Society of South Kensington, ten tons of ice were used to
build an ornamental rockery. This was draped with drooping ferns and
graceful vines, and was surrounded with crimson baize and lighted from
behind.

Nothing is so pretty for the breakfast- or dinner-table as a tall,
slender vase which carries the floral decoration high up above the
articles of food. Nor is a garden necessary for this species of
decoration. Wild flowers, ferns, grasses, and all the beautiful
furniture of forest and field, make these vases doubly elegant.

In the rose season--in the sweet days of June--most country gardens
overflow with the always regal flower; and this is a table ornament of
the highest. The great, broad, low baskets are best for these full,
rich queens of color and fragrance. Mass your roses for the middle
of the table, and have specimen glasses for some of the more rare
varieties. The rose is a cleanly flower, and can be put anywhere near
food. But if an unlucky visitor has the rose-cold, then it must be put
far away; for the subtile, pungent odor of a rose makes the sufferer
sneeze fearfully. There are some families in which roses are thus
tabooed.

A basket of roses is the prettiest thing in the world; and the lady
going into the country for the summer had better supply herself with a
number of these, with handles, from the florist or the basket-maker.
If she gets a tin pan also fitted in cunningly, she has the loveliest
table ornamentation all ready. Her buffets, her parlor-table, her
piano, her brackets can all hold these pleasant things, for which no
money need be paid, but which have a value far above money. Never give
these baskets a heavy, packed look, but allow plenty of the rich green
leaves of the rose to set them off. It seems to us that ladies might
create an endless succession of Home Amusements by studying how to vary
the effect of their vases and baskets of flowers.

A simple bunch of yellow buttercups in the early spring will make a
purple room perfectly beautiful; and dandelions can be massed with
great effect. Yellow flowers are rare, but necessary to produce
fine contrasts of color. We all tend too much to the red and white
easily-obtained effects. They are poor compared with what we can do.

If Fashion has rather run its worship of the daisy into the ground,
Fashion might have done a worse thing. We can scarcely blame Fashion
for going back to this impressive flower, which in its simplicity has
moved all philosophers, poets, and fortune-tellers to admire and study
it.

It seems to us that something more cheerful than our usual Christmas
decorations could be invented. We make them too somber. Try mixing in
the beautiful bitter-sweet berries, which are so very easily obtained,
and which keep all winter. The holly is not so common with us as in
England; still, many a New England swamp produces a host of hips and
haws and red berries.

The business of preserving autumn-leaves shows ten failures to one
success. Yet, when autumn leaves are well preserved, they are very
charming means of winter decoration. They are luminous at evening,
and, mixed with ferns and grasses, are perpetual bouquets. But do not
varnish them: that gives them a waxy effect, which is detestable. Press
them carefully, and iron them under a piece of brown paper. That seems
to preserve the color.

Grasses, on the contrary, and a thousand pods and seed-vessels, grains
and cat-tails, and certain weeds, dry into beautiful colors and make
most wonderful groups for the parlor mantel. The young ladies of our
vast continent can not do a better thing than to each year add to these
beautiful and most graceful bouquets, which retain, like the fabled
Dryads, all the fascination of Nature, even when they have passed into
sticks and dry leaves.



XIV.

CAGED BIRDS AND AVIARIES.


From flowers to birds is a natural transition, and we enter upon that
part of Home Amusement which centers around a cage of singing-birds.
It is a dreadful thing to snare and to imprison an innocent bird;
therefore we begin with that bird which seems to take most kindly to
captivity--the canary.

Travelers tell us that this yellow darling has gray plumage at home;
but as we know them they are generally yellow, white, green, or brown.
Climate, food, and intermixture of breeds has, no doubt, to do with
this. The canary, which in France is nearly white, at Teneriffe is as
brown as a berry. We can not tell why they are always yellow in cages.

The exact date of the introduction of the canary is not known to us. In
1610 the bird was considered a great rarity. According to some authors,
the island of Elba was the first European ground on which the canary
found a resting-place for its tiny foot. A ship bound for Leghorn,
they say, having on board a number of sweet songsters, foundered near
this island, on which the birds, set at liberty by the accident,
found a refuge; and the climate was so congenial to their nature that
they remained and bred, and would probably have remained there had
not their unlucky, fatal gifts of beauty and song betrayed them to
the bird-catchers, who hunted them so assiduously that not a single
specimen was left on the island. From Italy these birds soon found
their way into France and Germany, from the latter of which countries
and the Tyrol we now receive our best supplies. Canary breeding and
teaching is conducted in the Tyrol on a large scale, and these trainers
have the power always to obtain large prices for their birds. Canary
societies exist in England, and small traders, like Poll Sneedlepipes,
compete for prizes.

Canary critics recognize two varieties--two grand divisions--in fancy
canaries: “gay birds,” or “gay spangles,” and fancy, or “mealy,”
birds--the first being plain, like the original stock, and the last
variegated. This also includes the _Jonques_, or _Jonquils_, as the
yellow birds are technically called. The varieties of these two grand
divisions are almost innumerable, nearly every year producing a new
one, which, like a prize flower, is in high favor until superseded by a
greater beauty. Every year has its fashionable bird, its professional
beauty, its Mrs. Langtry, until some Mrs. Cornwallis West or Lady
Lonsdale carries off the palm. Like all hobbies, this is a hobby
desperately ridden. It is a “Dutch taste for tulips,” and immense
prices are given for prize canaries, even by men who can not afford to
speculate in such very uncertain stock.

There are certain standard properties which are always considered
essential toward gaining a prize. The first property considered in the
show bird is the “cap,” which must be of a good gold color. The next
is purity of color through the whole bird. Then the wings and tail,
which must be black quite home to the quill. The fourth relates to
the spangle, which must be distinct. Fifth, size and shape. Besides
these properties there are what are called “additional beauties,” not
essential to the winning of a prize, but adding to a bird’s chances.
These are five in number: pinions, for size and regularity; swallow and
throat, for size; fair breast, for regularity; legs and flight, for
blackness. In explanation of this it may be noted that from the beak to
the back of the neck is called the “cap,” and this should be of a clear
orange-color, full and rich in the ground, and with black edges to the
feathers. The feathers on the loins, or the _saddle_ as it is sometimes
called, as well as those of the breast, must be free from black, while
the wings must have no admixture of any other color. No bird can fairly
compete for a prize which has not black on the stock or neb of the
back, flight, or tail feathers, or that has less than eighteen flying
feathers in each wing or less than twelve in the tail. Such, lady
bird-fanciers, is a prize canary in England!

Holborn is the great canary mart. In St. Andrew’s Street every third or
fourth house is occupied by a dealer, and those who desire to possess
a first-rate singer should visit that street. It is best to go by
gaslight, when all the birds are on the twitter.

Now, in America we have the plain yellow bird, with no admixture of
black; and yet the same conditions seem to be observed as to his
treatment. Sacrifice the beauty of your bird to his song, which is
his chief accomplishment. He should have a comfortable mahogany cage,
and be allowed to step into it of his own accord. It should be well
furnished with seed and water. Place a light in front of the cage, and
he will begin to sing. A single hemp-seed or a morsel of chickweed will
induce the little prisoner to sing almost immediately. They are very
amiable and happy in captivity.

The blackcap, called the “mock-nightingale,” is a very charming
household pet, if he will live. His power of song is almost equal to
that of the nightingale. He is sometimes called “the English
mocking-bird,” and he imitates any songster whom he may hear--blackbird,
thrush, or meadow-lark. They are by no means plentiful birds, and they
bring a good price in the market. They are about the same size as
the linnet, and the prevailing colors of the plumage are ashen-gray
and olive-green. The old birds feed their young on caterpillars,
moths, and other insects. They can be reared, however, on bread and
milk. If brought up with a canary or a nightingale, they will acquire
a beautiful song composed of their own natural notes and those of
these brilliant performers. This bird has been known to live twelve
or sixteen years in confinement. It demands some sort of fruit, like
cherries, currants, or raspberries in summer; a bit of apple, pine, or
orange in winter. To keep it in perfect health, it must have an iron
nail in its cup of water.

But _chacun à son goût_. Every lady has her preferences as to her
feathered favorites. Suffice it to say a few words as to the care of
these poor little creatures.

Birds are naturally tender things. They are not born to live in cages;
therefore they should be especially cared for. Domestic pets are apt to
come to untimely ends, particularly if left to the care of servants,
who regard them as a burden and a nuisance, and too often cruelly
neglect them. Birds in captivity are very liable to diseases which do
not attack them in their wild state; and in the various casualties
which endanger their prison life, their owners should seek to protect
them and to cure them. Let it be one of the Home Amusements for the
lady to feed her pet canary--to clean its cage, or see that it is done.
We have seen a little boy of seven take such care of his pet canary
that he shamed all the older people in the house; and a happier bird
never lived.

If you keep but one bird in a cage in very hot weather, his cage should
be cleansed once a day. If you minister personally to the comfort of
your bird, he will grow very much attached to you. If the perches are
not kept clean, the birds become afflicted with the gout and other
maladies, resulting in the loss of toes.

Wooden cages, especially of mahogany, are the best, as they are less
likely to harbor insects. If of fir or soft wood, the cage should be
painted green. The wires of a cage should never be painted, as the
wire being non-absorbent, the bird pecks off and eats the paint, which
poisons it. Japanned zinc cages are very well. A cage should not be too
open. There should always be a snug corner or sheltered place, where
the bird can retire and shun observation. It is great cruelty to hang
a cage in the sun unprotected. Remember that in their free state birds
seek the shady tree. In a shower always bring your birds indoors, for
they are apt to take cold if wet in an imprisoned state.

It is a pity that more of our country residents have not the idea of an
aviary. It is so very pretty--an abiding-place of beauty, love, song,
and happiness. Surely it does not cost so much as a greenhouse.

The model aviary is built of brick or stone, iron and glass, with a
stove and pipes fitted to keep it of an even temperature all winter.
The floor should be an earthen one, beaten hard, like the floors of
some barns. Bricks are too cold. Planks harbor insects, retain bad
smells, and form coverts for rats and mice. The roof of the aviary
should be semicircular or shelving, with vines and flowing creepers
trailing over it, so that there shall be a rustle of green leaves
steeped in sunshine, and air laden with sweet perfume to delight the
birds within. There should be also creepers and shrubs growing inside
for the birds to nest in. Perches and wicker baskets with horse-hair
and wool should be left around, and there should be a small marble
basin and fountain in the middle, of which the water should be always
fresh and changing for the birds to drink. This is, of course, a
very magnificent aviary, costing money. But what an addition to Home
Amusements to care for the happy family within! The birds can be of
all sorts. At the period of migration--about the last of August--all
birds kept in confinement show a great desire to get out, and often
beat themselves to death against the walls of their cages. In this
time of ardent enterprise the top of the aviary or the cages should be
covered with dark cloth, and the poor things shut out from the light.

A much cheaper aviary is built in the form of a large cage on the
top of a tree, with open exit and entrances, fitted up with every
convenience of bird-furnishing, and visited twice a day by the boys of
the family. Here many birds come to lodge and get tamed, as the Indian
does by having a house and garden, and often one pair of birds comes
back several times. This is a charming sort of aviary, and very much
to be commended. What romantic tales of a wayside inn do the robin
redbreasts and orioles tell the peeping boy as he goes up the ladder to
feed his familiar friends! It is the prettiest sort of correspondence
with _l’inconnu_!

It is a curious thing that the lungs of birds in captivity always
suffer from impurity of air, especially when the temperature is at all
varied; this must be one of the points very carefully attended to.

For food--we now are getting to a very creepy stage of our
narrative--meal-worms, ugh! are the _pièce de résistance_; but
canaries, goldfinches, bullfinches, linnets--all, God bless
them!--prefer seed; while chaffinches, buntings, and the whole tit
family and larks must have seeds, insects, and fat meat--namely, worms.
The nightingales, thrushes, redbreasts, blackcaps, must have worms,
crickets, cockroaches, and ant-eggs. The maggots of the blow-fly
and all such tidbits, meal-worms, and flesh-maggots must be kept in
reserve; and this kind of housekeeping is apt to shock the delicate
sense. Let the boys of the family attend to this part of the birds’
diet. Boiled cabbage, green peas, all sorts of pudding, dry bread, and
a little finely minced cooked meat, bread-crumbs mashed up and scalded
in milk, milk itself, hemp-seed, a little chickweed, lettuce, and
cresses, can be given to birds with advantage.

The bathing of birds must be done with great skill and wisdom. After
the operation of a warm bath, with soap, which should be given to
nestlings who are troubled with vermin, great care must be taken that
they are not chilled, as death will be the result. Wrap them up, like
little babies, in flannel.

In teaching them to sing, the voice, the piano, and flute are all good
teachers. The patient and music-loving Germans teach all birds to sing.
It should be begun in the morning early, when the bird is hungry; and
his lesson should not last more than an hour.

Early and regular attendance, gentleness and kindness, are the
_rationale_ of bird-tending, as of nearly everything else!

Those half-captives, the pigeons, should be around every country house.
How beautiful they are in Venice! the pigeons of St. Mark, which have
swooped about that storied piazza for so many years, because regularly
fed there. All boys should learn to cultivate them; to have the lovely
shifting luster of their necks lighting up the ground and making gay
the twilight. How proud and pompous are the pouters! how gentle the
ringdoves! and how pretty the whole family! Peacocks are very stately
visitors, and, except for their horrid shrieks, are especially to be
commended. The old ruffled turkey-gobbler has his charms; and the pages
of Hawthorne teach us how very amusing a group of hens and chickens
may become. We advise every family to have as many birds as they can
possibly feed; for every bird is a study, from the blink-eyed owl which
hides in the fir-tree, to the poor old goose that quacks and hobbles
toward the pond. Indeed, the æsthetics are all pretending that the
goose is the most beautiful of them all!--a perfect love, a type, is
a goose, since Walter Crane and Kate Greenaway came in. But we still
prefer the stately swan, of which splendid specimens are now beginning
to add their attractions to our inland lakes. The goose is all very
well in her way, but the swan is better.



XV.

PICNICS.


Perhaps it is not well to class among Home Amusements a series of
entertainments which imply, at first sight, the getting away from home.
But, as the basket of luncheon has to be packed at home, and the best
part of a picnic is the getting home again, we must be permitted a
divergence.

It is curious to see how emphatically fond of picnics the Americans
are. A universal national hunger seems to seize the tired cit as the
first warm day of May beams upon us. They “babble of green fields.”
Best of all charities those which send the poor children off, on boats
and trains, for a whiff of pure air! It is the blessed privilege of the
rich to thin out the crowded tenement, and to send the overplus of an
irrepressible civilization back to Nature for a moment.

But, for a Home Amusement in the country, what can compare with the joy
of getting ready for a picnic? The baskets for the provisions (and be
sure, Mary, not to forget the salt or the sugar), the coffee-pot that
will stand being poked down into the wood-coals, the fine old swinging
iron kettle, the bread, the knives, and the pail of ice. Ah!

Then, as to carriages. Not the luxurious cushioned barouche, but the
shabbiest old rattletraps about the place are the proper ones. A good
old hay-wagon is the very best--if it have hay in it. It may do very
well at Newport for the luxurious to drive out to one of Mr. Bennett’s
picnics in a four-in-hand or a drag, or a Victoria or a barouche; but
in the country take the buckboard, the old Rockaway wagon, which holds
nine--the more the merrier--the farm-wagon, and the market-cart. Filled
with youth, beauty, and jollity, these become the chariots of Apollo.

It is not always easy to get mamma to a picnic; but it is good for
her, and for all the others, if she will go. She is apt to be anxious
about rain, and is afraid of farmer Bell’s bull; and she should be
allowed to go in an easy carriage. She also fears to take cold, and is
mightily frightened at those crazy boats on the lake. But it is better
for all parties if these fears are assuaged and she really goes. The
change does her good, and she acts as a temporary restraint on the too
volatile spirits of the party.

Another power hard to coerce is Statira, who is the head of the
commissary department. Statira, cook and factotum, was brought up on
the wrong side of a mullein-patch herself, and she is not in love
with the country. She remembers the woods as a place where she went
to look, in her youth, for recalcitrant cows; and in winter, how cold
and bleak the woods were! Her present warm and cultivated kitchen,
with stationary wash-tubs, is to her a far more agreeable spot. She
hesitates, as the young people ask for her delicate apple-pies and her
delicious cakes, “to cram into baskets,” to “eat out in the pasture,”
as she sniffingly avers.

However, although Statira is a greater tyrant than Nero, the young
people prevail, and the picnic gets started somehow. What a jolly hour
is passed in driving through the still valley to the brow of yonder
hill, which commands a view of the whole country! Then Susan, the
thoughtful one, dreads lest the coffee-pot has been forgotten. Hurried
search! The coffee-pot is found under a back seat. Happiness restored,
the songs go on, and the murmuring pines and the hemlocks take up the
wondrous tale.

Then the party arrive at the lake. The girls take off their hats. The
winds play with the “tangles in Nerea’s hair.” The picnic is a nice
opportunity for a pretty foot, a fine figure, and a splendid head of
hair--so it is said. Then come rambles into the forest.

That is a pretty story of a nymph who appeared on the edge of a forest,
but who disappeared as she was followed, until, at last, as her lover
pursued her farther into the forest, he threw his arms about a white
hawthorn-tree. It is the world’s earliest romance that the first
courtship took place at a picnic. Roses and briers twine around lovers
for ever, and the lotus and the buttercup tell the same story.

Picnics are healthy; but should be appropriately dressed. Balmoral
boots, broad hats, and flannel dresses, warm, plain, and serviceable.
A white Marseilles which will wash--percales and cambrics and ginghams
will do; but no finery should be allowed. At Newport one may try the
Watteau combination of brocade and satin, with fine old house, grounds,
and trellised arcades. But at a country picnic Watteau dresses are
out of place. Our climate is too fitful for safe picnicking, as we
dread rain. In England they do not care, but lunch at Ascot, with the
rain pouring into the champagne. But here we need to go prepared with
aquiscutums and umbrellas, and a neighboring barn is well in the near
distance.

It is a common want, this need of the confessional of Nature. We leave
our morbid fancies, our discontents, in the bosom of our dear common
mother, and we come back as cheerful as is the dappled deer. We like to
go back to that idyllic spot where the race started.

In the spring certain natures get frisky, like the colts. One pasture
will not hold them. We get tired of white man’s work. It was a true
reading of the human heart which made the Greeks place Apollo with
the shepherds of Admetus, and Jove stooping to the people of the
hill-sides. “The populous all-loving solitude” of Nature draws us with
a potent hand. Our houses are a false shell. Titania’s subjects will
rebel. That rural solitude, which has no conventionality; that desert
rock, against which the noisy wave of human folly breaks itself; the
dense forest, where is sung the mighty hymn of the pines; the brow of
the hill which the sun kisses last; the lone seashore; the distant
heath; that cloud-shadow on the mountain--these are all necessary to
us once a year. We must go once to “_La roche qui pleure_.” We must go
where the forest-growths expand in all their strength and splendor. We
must find the shyest wild flower, the most untamable vine. It is in the
fable of Daphne that we read the deep significance, the poetry, the
true meaning of our love of the picnic.

Who of us--comfortable and well housed--but has in some moment of
nomadic instinct envied the tramp and the gypsy their life of chapleted
ease, as they lie on the greensward, hugging dear mother Nature
to their very bosoms? Who has not some wild, untamed blood in his
veins--some fellowship for the Indian--some desire for the flitting
caress of the passing breeze, or the somber greeting of the mountain
shadow?

But no more poetry, if you please. We are getting hungry. Where are
those baskets? Ah! the cold roast beef, the wing of a chicken, and the
salt, not forgotten!

Those hard-boiled eggs--how good they are! So glad that chicken-raising
has been one of our Home Amusements! Just a high picket-fence, a few
good hens, some boxes, and a little attention, and what eggs these
are! Mamma will not, however, eat them; she says they are unwholesome.
But she takes a piece of the breast of a noble pullet, and a cup of
coffee in a tin mug, made by Sam, best of cooks, amateur--college-bred
cook--who has boiled it under the trees! and laid the grounds with a
dash of cold water. Sam puts his own clearness and strength into the
coffee.

And now for an hour’s reverie by the side of the lake; and then a
rough-and-tumble drive home! How tired, ragged, jagged, disheveled, and
happy we are as we get home!

Statira has built a splendid wood-fire for us, and has a supper of
broiled chicken, cold ham, preserves and cream, baked potatoes, and
toast, and hot biscuits which might tempt the virtue of an anchorite.
We have no such proud resistance. We have brought an appetite from the
place where they make them; and we can eat hot biscuits and still wrap
the drapery of our couch about us and lie down to pleasant dreams.

A picnic is, therefore, a Home Amusement. It has home at both ends;
else it would not be a picnic.



XVI.

PLAYING WITH FIRE. CERAMICS.


Now let us ascend from these trivialities to the consideration of the
great subject which has been more talked of and dabbled in for the
last seven years than any accomplishment ever was, before or since.
The splendid display of Ceramic Art at our great Exposition of 1876 no
doubt had its share in creating that intense interest in the subject
which has been felt everywhere.

How it came into the category of Home Amusements we hardly know, unless
the art schools stimulated the pursuit. But now we do know that nearly
every lady paints a plate, from grandma down to the smallest child.
Especially has it become the pastime of middle-aged ladies, who have
got through with the work of life, and have much leisure on their
hands. It is one of the many accomplishments which has taken the place
of the German wool worsted abomination, the canvas roses, and counted
out violets.

“Home would be happier were it not for the smell of turpentine,” said
a lively girl as she found her grandmother, mother, and sister all
hard at the plaques. It is true, this pungent liquid is necessary, and
the china after being painted has to be baked--two very unpleasant
accompaniments. But let us see how it is done.

One needs, first, a porcelain palette; a glass slab about eight inches
square; several small and medium-sized camel’s-hair brushes; several
blenders, large and small; a quart-bottle of spirits of turpentine; a
quart-bottle of alcohol; a small bottle of oil of turpentine; one of
oil of lavender; one of copaiba; a steel palette-knife, also one of
horn or ivory; a rest for the hand while painting, made of a strip of
wood about an inch and a half wide and twelve inches long, supported
at each end by a foot an inch and a half in height. A flat ruler or
thin strip of wood may be used for plates, or any flat piece having a
raised edge, and may be found more convenient than the cumbrous rests.
A fine needle, set in a handle, for removing particles of dust which
may settle in the painting, and a small glass muller, are required.

The china used for decoration must be of the finest quality, and free
from spots. The hard porcelain of French manufacture is the best for
this purpose. The mineral paints bought in tubes (those of Lacroix, of
Paris, being the best) are the colors which stand fire. Brushes, as for
water-color painting, are used. Small camel’s-hair brushes with square
ends may be had, which will do for blending when necessary in fine work.

In tinted surfaces and borders large blenders are necessary. The
brushes used by gilders, and called “trade-gilders’ brushes,” make good
blenders; No. 9 is a very useful size. In placing the color on these
surfaces, a broad, flat camel’s-hair brush, rather more than an inch in
width, should be used. In narrow bands and lines, brushes of suitable
size with very long hair and square ends are employed.

The colors most in use are: dark carmine, flesh-red, capucine-red, dark
red, brown, iron-violet. In _purples_--deep purple, dark golden violet.
_Blues_--sky-blue, dark ultramarine, deep blue. _Greens_--grass-green,
brown green, apple-green. _Yellows_--mixing yellow, ivory-yellow,
jonquil-yellow, orange-yellow. _Browns_--dark brown, yellow brown.
_Black_--ivory-black. Permanent white; pearl-gray; black gray.

Now, in commencing to paint a design on china, the first thing to be
done is to sketch the outline. The best way to do this is to prepare
the china by rubbing the surface with spirits of turpentine, and,
after having left it a few minutes to dry, draw the design upon it
very lightly with a hard lead-pencil. Alcohol may be used for the
same purpose, and has the advantage that it is not so liable to catch
the dust. The surface, however, does not receive the marks of the
lead-pencil so well as when it is prepared with turpentine.

Lithographic crayon may be used, and without any preparation; but the
outline is not so delicate as that drawn with the lead-pencil.

If the subject is a difficult one, as, for instance, a design
containing several figures, time may be saved, and liability to error
avoided, by tracing the design, which insures the correct relative
position of the figures, and tends to produce the object desired--a
correct copy of the original. It is better, however, to sketch simpler
subjects direct on the china. It is commonly supposed that a tracing
is of great assistance to any one unskilled in drawing; but if one
is unable to draw a correct outline, it is hardly possible that the
painting will be good. It is so very easy to lose the outline in
working that, after all, a tracing is but a slight indication, which
has for its principal use the placing of the design in exactly the
right position on the plate or other object to be decorated.

There are various ways of tracing, the simplest and best of which is
the following: Lay a piece of transparent paper over the design to be
copied, and trace the outlines very carefully with a hard lead-pencil.
Then turn the tracing-paper over on any white surface, and go over all
the lines on the reverse side with a soft pencil. You can now lay the
tracing right side up on the china, which has been previously prepared
for the lead-pencil with turpentine, and having placed it in exactly
the right position, secure it by means of bits of modeling-wax or
gummed paper at the corners, and pass over the lines with a hard point,
or rub the entire surface with a rounded instrument; the handle of the
palette-knife may be used for this purpose. This will transfer the
pencil drawing to the surface of the china.

The more delicate the outline the better, provided it is more plainly
visible, as a heavy, dark, or colored outline sullies the colors
used upon it, and causes much annoyance in working. Although it may
disappear in the firing, it is better to avoid it. Faulty lines in the
tracing may be rectified by the use of a sharpened stick of soft wood
moistened with turpentine.

If tube-colors are used, and found difficult to lay, a drop of oil
of turpentine may be added to the turpentine. Care should be taken,
however, to avoid too much oil, as it renders the colors liable to
blister in the fire. The use of clove-oil as a medium is advised by
some. The color can, perhaps, be more easily laid with it than with
spirits of turpentine. It does not dry so quickly, however, and, unless
recourse is had to the process of drying the work with the aid of an
alcohol lamp, its use involves tedious waiting. It is better to use
turpentine and finish the work at one sitting. The drying of colors
is affected by the state of the atmosphere. If, during the progress
of the painting, it is found to be difficult to work over the colors
first laid--which are indeed very liable to come up--the piece of china
may be placed in a moderately warm oven to dry before proceeding. On
being taken out of the oven, the colors will be found to have lost
their gloss, if perfectly dry, and, perhaps, will have changed their
hue. No alarm need be felt at this, as they will return to their former
brilliancy when fired. But here we come to a great trouble.

The chance of a piece “firing” well is one of the great trials of the
china painter, and is beyond her control; but this is always counted
in. It is best to send the piece to a pottery to be burned. A cup
containing turpentine should stand near the working table to wash the
brushes; and after using a color containing iron, the brush should be
carefully washed before it is charged with one which does not contain
iron, or if white is to be used. The brushes ought not to be too small,
and the colors should, as far as possible, be laid in broad washes, and
decided touches placed lightly and quickly, and not overworked. The use
of the blender may be resorted to if necessary, especially in laying
the first washes; although it is better to avoid using it afterward, if
possible.

The same rules may be applied to china painting as to water-colors,
to which it bears a strong resemblance. The greatest art consists in
placing each touch where it should go, and leaving it; not spoiling it
by uncertainty, or degrading the tint by overwork. In fine work, lining
and stippling are necessary in finishing, but should not be carried
to excess or made too apparent. These latter processes are, perhaps,
more indispensable in preparing work for a single firing, as it is very
difficult to lay repeated washes over one another; the under-tint comes
up so readily, especially when it is not thoroughly dry. The same place
must never be passed over by the brush twice in immediate succession,
as the under-tint will certainly come up, and the blot caused in the
painting will be difficult to rectify. It is of no use to attempt it
while it is wet. Work on some other part, and then go over it, or first
dry it in the oven.

Some of the tube-colors may require to be rubbed down after being
taken from the tubes. This will be especially necessary in the case
of the carmines and the whites. A horn or ivory palette-knife should
be used with these colors, as well as with the blues, and all colors
containing no iron. Mixtures of colors on the palette may be rubbed
down occasionally, or mixed with the brush before using, to prevent
them from separating themselves into their component parts.

Too much turpentine should not be taken into the brush when it is to be
charged with color. Dip it into the turpentine, and remove the surplus
moisture by drawing the brush over the edge of the vessel containing
it before taking up the color from the palette. The tint may be tried
first on the edge of the plate. Surplus color or moisture may be
removed by touching the brush upon a muslin rag, which should always be
at hand for the purpose of wiping the brushes.

After using, the brushes should be washed in alcohol. The bottle
containing it should be kept tightly corked, as it evaporates very
quickly when exposed to the air. Care must be taken that no drops of
the alcohol drop upon the painting, as it will immediately remove the
colors from the surface. When the large brushes are cleaned after
being washed in the alcohol, the hairs should be spread apart, and the
fingers passed lightly over them until they are dry; otherwise the
hairs may stick together in drying, and the brush be rendered unfit for
use. Washing in alcohol will prevent the turpentine used in painting
from injuring the brushes, as it would if allowed to remain in them.
The tube-colors should be preserved from heat as far as possible.

We have taken these rules, partly from personal experience, partly
from the best manuals, and the china painter can _begin_ on them. But
a few lessons from a master are very valuable, and the best of all
teachers--patience--will help the young and inexperienced better than
any written directions.

We would like to say a few words more on the all-important subject of
firing. “The Amateur’s Miniature Kiln,” now sold by the Decorative Art
Society, and by the patentee, Miss N. M. Ford, Port Richmond, New York,
enables the amateur to fire small articles of decorated china with
perfect success. If near a large city, it is better to send the plaques
to a large establishment where they are in the habit of baking them.

The amateur has to make up her mind to a great many failures at
first, but after the accomplishment is somewhat conquered, it is an
inexpensive and delightful addition to Home Amusements.

No one should, however, attempt to paint upon china who does not know
first how to draw. The hand should be skillful on paper before it
touches the flat brush; for the outlines, while seemingly coarse, must
be very expressive, and very certain.



XVII.

ARCHERY.


Fashion has again brought round as one of the Home Amusements this
pretty and romantic pastime, which has filled the early ballads with
many a picturesque figure. Now on many a lawn may be seen the target
and the group in Lincoln green. Indeed, it looks as if Archery were to
prove a very formidable rival to Lawn Tennis.

The requirements of Archery are these: First, a bow; secondly, arrows;
thirdly, a quiver, pouch, and belt; fourthly, a grease-pot, an
arm-guard or brace, a shooting glove, a target, and a scoring card.

The bow is the most important article in archery, and also the most
expensive. It is usually from five to six feet in length, made of a
single piece of yew, or of lance-wood and hickory glued together back
to back. The former is best for gentlemen, the latter for ladies, as
it is better adapted for the short, sharp pull of the feminine arm.
The wood is gradually tapered, and at each end is a tip of horn, the
one from the upper end being longer than the other or lower one. The
strength of bows is marked in pounds, varying from twenty-five to
thirty pounds. Ladies’ bows are from twenty-five to forty pounds in
strength, and those of gentlemen from fifty to eighty pounds. One side
of the bow is flat, called its “back”; the other is rounded, called
the “belly.” Nearly in the middle, where the hand should take hold, it
is lapped round with velvet, and that part is called the “handle.” In
each of the tips of horns is a notch for the string, called the “nock.”

Bow-strings are made of hemp or flax--the former being the better
material; for though at first they stretch more, yet they wear longer
and stand a harder pull, as well as being more elastic in the shooting.
In applying a fresh string to a bow, be careful in opening it not to
break the composition that is on it. Cut the tie, take hold of the eye,
which will be found ready worked at one end, let the other part hang
down, and pass the eye over the upper end of the bow. If for a lady, it
may be held from two to two and a half inches below the nock; if for a
gentleman, half an inch lower, varying it according to the length and
strength of the bow. Then run your hand along the side of the bow and
string to the bottom nock. Turn it round that, and fix it by the noose,
called the “timber noose,” taking care not to untwist the string in
making it. This noose is simply a turn-back and twist without a knot.
When strung, a lady’s bow will have the string about five inches from
the belly, and a gentleman’s about half an inch more. The part opposite
the handle is bound round with waxed silk, in order to prevent its
being frayed by the arrow. As soon as a string becomes too soft and
the fibers too straight, rub it with beeswax, and give it a few turns
in the proper direction, so as to shorten it, and twist its strands a
little tighter. A spare string should always be provided by the shooter.

The arrows are differently shaped by various makers, some being of
uniform thickness throughout, while others are protuberant in the
middle; some, again, are larger at the point than at the feather-end.
They are generally made of white deal, with points of iron or brass
riveted on; but generally having a piece of heavy wood spliced on to
the deal between it and the point, by which their flight is improved.
At the other end a piece of horn is inserted in which is a notch for
the string. They are armed with three feathers, glued on, one of which
is of a different color from the others, and is intended to mark the
proper position of the arrow when placed on the string, this one always
pointing from the bow. These feathers properly applied give a rotary
motion to the arrow which causes its flight to be straight. They are
generally from the wing of the turkey or the goose. The length and
weight of the arrows vary, the latter (in England) being marked in
sterling silver coin, and stamped on the arrow in plain figures. It is
usual to paint a crest or a monogram or distinguishing rings on the
arrow just below the feathers, by which they may be known in shooting
at the target.

The quiver is merely a tin case painted green, intended for the
security of the arrows when not in use. The pouch and belt are worn
round the waist, the latter containing those arrows which are actually
being shot. A pot to hold grease for touching the glove and string,
and a tassel to wipe the arrows, are hung at the belt. The grease is
composed of beef-suet and wax melted together. The arm is protected
from the blow of the string by the brace, a broad guard of strong
leather buckled on by two straps. A shooting glove, also of thin tubes
of leather, is attached to the wrist by three flat pieces ending in a
circular strap buckled round it. This glove prevents that soreness of
the fingers which soon comes on after using the bow without it.

The target consists of a circular mat of straw, covered with canvas
painted in a series of circles. It is usually from three feet six
inches to four feet in diameter. The middle is about six or eight
inches in diameter, gilt, and called the “gold”; the next is called
the “red,” after which comes the “inner white,” then the “black,” and
finally the “outer white.” These targets are mounted on triangular
stands at distances apart of from fifty to a hundred yards--sixty being
the usual shooting distance.

A scoring card is provided with columns for each color, which are
marked with a pin. The usual score for a gold hit or the bull’s-eye is
9; the red, 7; inner white, 6; black, 3; and outer white, 1.

To bend the bow properly the bow should be taken by the handle in the
right hand. Place one end on the ground, resting in the hollow of the
right foot, keeping the flat side of the bow, called the back, toward
your person. The left foot should be advanced a little, and the right
placed so that the bow can not slip sideways. Place the heel of the
left hand upon the upper limb of the bow, below the eye of the string.
Now, while the fingers and thumb of the left hand slide this eye toward
the notch in the horn, and the heel pushes the limb away from the body,
the right hand pulls the handle toward the person, and thus resists
the action of the left, by which the bow is bent; and at the same time
the string is slipped into the nock, as the notch is termed. Take care
to keep the three outer fingers free from the string, for if the bow
should slip from the hand, and the string catch them, they will be
severely pinched. If shooting in frosty weather, warm the bow before
the fire, or by friction with a woolen cloth. If the bow has been lying
by for a long time, it should be well rubbed with boiled linseed-oil
before using it.

To unstring the bow, hold it as in stringing, then press down the upper
limb exactly as before, and as if you wished to place the eye of the
string in a higher notch. This will loosen the string and liberate the
eye, when it must be lifted out of the nock by the forefinger, and
suffered to slip down the limb.

Before using the bow, hold it in a perpendicular direction with the
string toward you, and see if the line of the string cuts the middle of
the bow. If not, shift the eye and noose of the string to either side,
so as to make the two lines coincide. This precaution prevents a very
common cause of defective shooting, which is the result of an uneven
string throwing the arrow on one side. After using it, unstring it; and
at a large shooting party, unloose your bow after every round. Some
bows get bent into very unmanageable shapes.

The general management of the bow should be on the principle that
damp injures it, and that any loose floating ends interfere with
its shooting. It should, therefore, be kept well varnished, and in
a waterproof case, and it should be carefully dried after shooting
in damp weather. If there are any ends hanging from the string, cut
them off close, and see that the whipping in the middle of the string
is close and well fitting. The case should be hung up against a dry
internal wall, not too near the fire. In selecting your bow, be careful
that it is not too strong for your power, and that you can draw the
arrow to its head without any trembling of the hand. If this can not be
done after a little practice, the bow should be changed for a weaker
one. For no arrow will go true if it is discharged by a trembling hand.

If an arrow has been shot into the target or the ground, be particularly
careful to withdraw it by laying hold close to its head, and by
twisting it round as it is withdrawn in the direction of its axis.
Without this precaution it may be easily bent or broken.

In shooting at the target, the first thing is to nock the arrow; that
is, to place it properly on the string. In order to effect this; take
the bow in the left hand, with the string toward you, the upper limb
being toward the right. Hold it horizontally while you take the arrow
by the middle, pass it on the under side of the string and the upper
side of the bow, till the head reaches two or three inches past the
left hand. Hold it there with the forefinger or thumb while you remove
the right hand down to the nock. Turn the arrow till the cock-feather
comes uppermost, then pass it down the bow, and fix it on the nocking
part of the string. In doing this, all contact with the feathers should
be avoided, unless they are rubbed out of place, when they may be
smoothed down by passing them through the hand.

The body should be at right angles with the target, but the face must
be turned over the left shoulder, so as to be opposed to it. The feet
are to be flat on the ground, with the heels a little apart, the left
foot turned toward the mark. The head and chest inclined a little
forward, so as to present a full bust, but not bent at all below the
waist.

Draw the arrow to the full length of the arm till the hand touches the
shoulder, then take aim. The loosing should be quick, and the string
must leave the fingers smartly and steadily. The bow-hand must be as
firm as a vice--no trembling allowed.

The rules of an Archery Club are usually these:

That a “Lady Paramount” be annually elected.

That there be a President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

That all members intending to shoot shall appear in the uniform of the
club. That a fine shall be imposed for non-attendance.

That the Secretary shall send out cards at least a month before each
day of meeting, acquainting the members with place and hour of meeting.

That there shall be four prizes for each meeting--two for each sex; the
first for numbers, the second for hits; and that no person shall be
allowed to have both on the same day. A certain sum of money is voted
to the Lady Paramount for prizes for each meeting.

That in case of a tie for hits, numbers shall decide; and in case of a
tie for numbers, hits shall decide.

That the decision of the Lady Paramount shall be final.

That there shall be a challenge prize of the value of ---- dollars, and
that a commemorative ornament be presented to winners of the challenge
prize.

That the distance for shooting be sixty or one hundred yards, and that
five-feet targets be used.

The dress of the club to be decided by the Lady Paramount.

The expenses of archery are not great--about the same as lawn
tennis--although a great many arrows are lost in the course of the
season. Bows and other paraphernalia last a long time. Sides are chosen
as at lawn tennis, and the game grows on one. The lady archers are apt
to feel a little lame after the first two or three essays, but they
should practice a short time every morning, and always in a loose waist
or jacket. It will be found a very healthy and strengthening pastime.

We must not judge of the merits of ancient bowmen from the practice of
archery in the present day. There are no such distances now assigned
for the marks as we find mentioned in old histories or poetic legends,
nor such precision, even at short lengths, in the direction of the
arrow.

    “The stranger he made no mickle ado,
      But he bent a right good bow,
    And the fattest of all the herd he slew,
      Forty good yards him fro;
    _‘Well shot, well shot,’ quoth Robin Hood_.”

Few, if any, modern archers in long shooting reach four hundred yards,
or in shooting at a mark exceed eighty or a hundred. But archery has
been since the invention of gunpowder only followed for pastime. It
is decidedly the most graceful game which can be practiced, and the
legends of Sherwood Forest, of Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Little John,
Friar Tuck, and the Abbot carry us into the fragrant heart of the
forest, and bring back memories which are agreeable to all people who
have in them a drop of Saxon blood.



XVIII.

AMUSEMENTS FOR THE MIDDLE-AGED AND THE AGED.


We can not but notice, as people go on in life--when, as Lord Mansfield
said, “The absence of pain is pleasure, just as in youth the absence of
pleasure is pain”--that the quiet corner by the fire, or the seat at
the library-table with the shaded lamp, and a quiet game or two when
reading has fatigued the eyes, becomes almost necessary.

Of all the means of cheating a succession of dull evenings of their
tedium, perhaps that little invention called a “Solitaire” board--which
is simply a board pierced with thirty-seven holes, which are nearly
filled with thirty-six pegs--has proved itself the most eminently
successful. It was invented, it is said, by a French Jesuit, in Canada,
to help him through the long Canadian winter evenings, and it has
proved to be a boon to mankind.

One peg takes another when it can leap over into an empty hole. To get
all off but one peg is nearly impossible, but it can be done.

Then comes “Merelles,” or “Nine Men’s Morris,” which can be played on
a board, or on the ground, but which finds itself reduced even to a
parlor game. This, however, takes two players.

“American Bagatelle,” which can be played alone, or with an antagonist;
Chinese puzzles, which are infinitely amusing; and all the great
family of the sphinx known as puzzles--are of infinite service to the
retired, quiet, lonely people for whom the active business of life
is at an end. The guessing of arithmetical puzzles, the solution of
enigmas, and the solution of a paradox--these amuse many an evening.

We may give one of these old things as an example. It is called “The
Blind Abbot and his Monks,” and is played with counters. Arrange eight
external cells of a square so that there may always be nine in each
row, though the whole number may vary from eighteen to thirty-six.

A convent in which there were nine cells was occupied by a blind abbot
and twenty-four monks, the abbot lodging in the center cell, and the
monks in the side cells, three in each, giving a row of nine persons on
each side of the building. The abbot, suspecting the fidelity of his
brethren, often went out at night and counted them, and when he found
nine in each row the old man counted his beads, said an Ave! and went
to bed contented. The monks, taking advantage of his failing sight,
contrived to deceive him, so that four could go out nightly, yet leave
nine in a row. How did they do it?

The next night, emboldened by success, the monks returned with four
visitors and then arranged them nine in a row. The next night they
brought in four more belated brethren, and again arranged them nine
in a row; and again four more. Finally, when the twelve clandestine
brothers had departed, and six monks with them, the remainder deceived
the abbot again by presenting a row of nine. Try it with the counters,
and see how they so abused the privileges of a conventual seclusion.

Then try quibbles--“How can I get wine out of a bottle if I have no
corkscrew, and must not break the glass or make any hole in it or the
cork?”

The telling of a good story well should be encouraged. The _raconteur_
can be the most delightful of all household blessings. A mother who
can tell a story well by the nursery fire is a potent force; and
the one who will light up the winter evening by telling stories of
adventures--the simplest every-day ones in the street--the little
journey, even the round of shopping, becomes very much of a treasure.
Some ladies commit to memory the stories of Hans Christian Andersen;
Grimm, the fairy-story maker; Charles Kingsley’s short stories,
Ouida’s “A Dog of Flanders,” or the poems of Dr. Holmes, or some
other benefactor of mankind, and tell these stories and poems in a
sort of unpremeditated way by the library-table. This is a charming
accomplishment. Some people have the gift of improvising, and will
tell a very good bit of ghost story in a very gruesome manner for the
entertainment of those who enjoy the night side of nature.

But this talent should never be abused. The man who in cold blood
fires off a long poetical quotation at a dinner, or makes a speech
in defiance of the goose-flesh which is creeping down his neighbors’
backs, is a traitor to honor and religion, and he deserves the death of
a Nihilist. It is only when these extempore talents can be used without
alarming people that they are useful or endurable.

We might make our Christmas holidays a little more gay in this country.
We might read and study up all the old English and the German customs,
beyond the mistletoe, the tree, and the rather faded legend of Santa
Claus. There are worlds of legendary lore which would help us to make
this time-honored festival even more lively and gay and amusing than it
is. We have not yet reached the English jollity at Christmas.

The supper-table has, as an American home festival, rather fallen into
desuetude. We sup out, but rarely have that informal and delightful
meal which once wound up every evening devoted to Home Amusement.
Mrs. Elizabeth Montague, in her delightful letters, talks about the
“whisk and the quadrille parties with a light supper” which amused the
ladies of her day. We still have the “whisk,” but what has become of
lansquenet, quadrille, basset, and piquet, those pretty and courtly
games?

Playing-cards made their way through Arabia from India to Europe, where
they first arrived about the year 1370. They carried with them the
two arts, engraving and painting. They were the _avants coureurs_ of
engraving on wood and metal, and of printing.

Cards early began to be the luxuries of kings and queens, the necessity
of the gambler, and the consolation of those who innocently like games.
Piquet, a courtly game, was invented by Étienne Vignoles, called _La
Hire_, one of the most active soldiers of the reign of Charles VII.
This brave soldier was an accomplished chevalier, deeply imbued with a
reverence for the manners and customs of chivalry. Cards continued from
this time to follow the whim of the court and to assume the character
of the period through the regency of Marie de Medicis, in the time of
Anne of Austria and of Louis XIV. The Germans are the first people
who essayed to make a pack of cards assume the form of a scholastic
treatise. The king, queen, knight, and _knave_ tell of English manners,
customs, and nomenclature.



XIX.

THE PARLOR.


That is a poorly-furnished parlor, think some people, which has not a
chess-table in one corner, a whist-table in the middle, and a little
solitaire-table at the other end near the fire, for grandma. People who
are fond of games stock their table drawers with cribbage boards and
backgammon, cards of every variety, bézique counters and packs, and the
red and white champions of the hard-fought battlefield of chess.

Mrs. Frances Anne Kemble, one of the most gifted of women--whose
recollections would, one would think, be the most attractive book
which one could read--is devoted to card solitaire. Every evening she
describes herself as spending an hour or two over these combinations.
This is not to be confused with the game of peg solitaire.

Whist! Who shall pretend to describe its attractions? What a relief it
is to the tired man of business who has been fighting the world all
day, to the woman who has no longer any part in the gay and glittering
pageant of society! What pleasure in its regulated, shifting fortunes!
We all have seen that holding the cards--even the highest ones--does
not always win the game. We have noticed that with a poor hand somebody
wins fame, success, happiness. We feel the injustice of that long suit
which has baffled our best endeavors. Whist is a parody on life; we
play our own experience over again in its faithless kings and queens.
The knave is apt to trip us up on the green cloth as on the street. We
are simply playing the real over in shadow.

The great passion for gambling is no doubt behind even the game of
Boston, played for beans. We all like to accumulate, to believe that we
are Fortune’s favorite. What matter if it be only a few more beans than
one’s neighbor? The principle remains the same.

So long as cards do not lead to gambling, they are innocent enough.
Indeed, they are a priceless boon to eyes which can no longer see to
read; to those who must get rid of time; to those who are ill, weary,
or unfortunate. We always wonder at seeing the young take to them; it
seems as if they could do so much better; but the sight of a parlor,
warm, well lighted, with its games going on in every corner, is not
a disagreeable one. Especially should the young ladies of the family
look to this arrangement, and see that everything is comfortable for
papa’s game of whist, bézique, or cribbage. They do not know how great
a necessity it may be to him--what a relief, what a consolation!

As for Chess, the devotee of this heavy, remorseless game has no
further need of our help or sympathy. To any one who likes to puzzle
his brain over the fantastic skips of the Knight or the prodigious
descent of the Castle, we can offer no suggestions except that he may
be left undisturbed.

As for Music, one can hardly say anything which has not been said about
its transcendent powers in assisting at every Home Amusement. The
family circle which has learned three or four instruments, the brothers
who can sing part songs, are to be envied. They can never suffer from a
dull evening. Even the musical absurdities of Kindergarten choruses are
to be commended, and the German mimicry of all the instruments. What a
blessing to a family is the man who can sing comic songs, and who also
does not sing them too often!

It is well, where it can be done easily, to allow young boys to sing
in church choirs; to train their voices, and be with musical people;
to learn choruses, chants, etc. In that way Arthur Sullivan began,
that benefactor of his species, the author of “Pinafore.” What has
_not_ “Pinafore” done to help along the musical education of our young
people? How it has been sung in country towns! How church choirs have
taken it up! How popular, innocent, sweet it is!

Now, in our musical home training we may not make an Arthur Sullivan,
but we shall certainly add to the sum of innocent enjoyment; and it is
a delightful fact that if there are six or seven children in a family,
one of them is apt to have a good voice, one a talent for the piano,
and generally all can be taught to play and sing a little. Sometimes
there are rarely gifted, great musical organizations in all the sons
and daughters, which is a supreme blessing. For there is not only Home
Amusement in it, but a certainty of making a good living, if fortune
frowns and makes work necessary.

The only deep shadow to the musical picture is the necessity of
practicing, which is _not_ a Home Amusement; it is a home torture.
If only a person could learn to play or sing without those dreadful
first noises and those hideous shrieks! But, since these are not to
be avoided, some one in the family must have the tact to arrange them
well, and to have the hours of the various students so placed that
there need not be a perpetual tinkle-tinkle, or something worse.

The season of early spring and summer! Oh! what sounds come through the
first open casement! How dreadful is that _appoggiatura_! how fearful
that badly-played waltz! Is it possible that yon violinist will ever be
Maurice Dengrémont? And yet it is by these hard chromatic steps that
all have mounted the heavenly stairs of melody.

No young lady should sing in public--that is, before a party of
friends--until she can sing _well_. In these days, when amateur
cultivation has reached a high point, let everybody say to herself,
“Am I sufficiently advanced to give pleasure by my singing?” and let
her modestly abstain from singing if she finds that, after hearing her
once, her friends do not press her to sing again. There is, perhaps,
nothing so foolish as for a woman to persist in singing in her own
parlor when she is not a thoroughly good vocalist. No one can get away
from her there. They must suffer. Still, if birds _can_ sing, they
should sing. Nothing is more disagreeable than to have to urge a person
to sing. The possessor of a voice is always a very rare and much to
be envied person, and a certain amiability in singing becomes such a
person very much.

All young ladies who have been taught the piano should have some pieces
learned, and be able to play for the amusement of the home circle.
Especially should they be able to play for dancing. A few waltzes are
very convenient. They often help off a dull evening wonderfully. The
person who plays should be willing occasionally to be made use of. Are
we not all made use of at times? Is not the good talker in perpetual
request? The _raconteuse_--is she not begged to tell that story over
and over again? Does not the wit find himself invited out to dinner to
amuse the company? And are they not all, if amiable, glad to perform
their part? Surely the pianist should be as amiable!

Reading aloud is one of the most common of Home Amusements, and one
of the best. It is a pity, however, that our women, especially,
do not cultivate elocution a little, so that they may read aloud
intelligently. There is no prettier accomplishment. A lady at
a watering-place, who can read a poem or story well, is always
surrounded. The sweet voice, the correct accent, the air of
intelligence--all give the author a great help, and Longfellow never
wrote a prettier stanza than this:

    “Then read from the favored volume
      The poem of thy choice,
    And lend to the rhyme of the poet
      The music of thy voice.”

But, when the favored volume and the poem have to be filtered through
a nasal accent and an uneducated drawl, we feel that the poet has
been vilified, and his gold and silver turns to dross. Every woman
especially should remember the fable of the girl whose lips dropped
pearls and diamonds, who was so much more agreeable as a friend and
acquaintance than that other damsel whose lips dropped toads and
vipers. The latter, evidently, had never taken lessons in elocution.

We have a certain national vice in pronunciation and in accent which we
ought to correct. A moment’s listening to the English accent will soon
teach us to pronounce with a more melodious finish. We need not hug
ourselves with any vainglorious national conceit. We do _not_ speak as
well as our English cousins.



XX.

THE KITCHEN.


We began at the garret, and we are now at the kitchen. So our readers
may learn that we are on the home-stretch, and shall be through very
soon. If we have wearied them, let them bear with us but a little
longer, and then, on our faithful steed, whom they shall find at the
kitchen door, they shall ride off and never be troubled with us any
more.

A model kitchen is every housekeeper’s delight. In these days of tiles
and modern improvement, what pretty things kitchens are!

The modern dairy, with its upright milk-pans, in which the cream
is marked off by a neat little thermometer; the fire-brick floor;
the exquisite range, with its polished _batterie de cuisine_; every
brilliant brass saucepan, seeming to say, “Come and cook in me”; every
porcelain-lined pan urging upon one the necessity of stewing nectarines
in white sugar; every bright can suggesting the word “conserve,” which
always makes the mouth water; every clatter of the skewers, saying,
“Dainty dishes, dainty dishes, come and make me! Come and make me!” All
this is quite fascinating to an amateur.

No pretty woman--did she but know it--is ever half so pretty as when
she is playing cook. The clean, white apron, the neat, short cambric
dress, the little cap, the fair bare arms--does the reader remember
Ruth Pinch and the beefsteak-pie? A lady should make the desserts in
summer sometimes. Such ice-cream, such glorified Charlotte Russe, such
cakes, such delicate apple-pies, such creams and jellies as fall from a
lady’s fingers--these are ambrosial food!

There is among certain women a great passion for the cleanly part of
household work. The love of a dairy has grown to be a favorite task
with many a duchess. In our country, where ladies are compelled to put
a hand, perhaps once too often, to the household work, owing to the
inefficiency of the servants, this is _not_ ordinarily considered the
most thoroughly amusing of Home Amusements. To cook a heavy dinner in
warm weather, to wash dishes afterward--this is sober prose, and by a
very dull author. But the poetry of house-work, the rose hue o’er our
russet cares--this can be classed as a Home Amusement.

In the early morning we can imagine a lady going into her neat kitchen
to prepare the desserts for the day, and finding it very agreeable. She
will set her well-flavored custard away in the ice-chest with a serene
knowledge of how good it will be at dinner, and place her compote of
pears securely on a high shelf, away from that ubiquitous visitor
the cat, who has in most families so remarkable and irrepressible
an appetite. She can take a turn at the milk-pan, and skim off the
cream herself if she pleases. It will be much thicker if she does.
It is a not unpleasant duty to steal into the kitchen ten minutes
before dinner, to see to it that the roast birds are garnished with
watercresses, that the vegetables are properly prepared, that the
silver dishes are without a smear. All this sort of attention makes
good servants, and very good dinners.

It is often one of the Home Amusements for a party of girls to try
their hand at clear-starching. Statira, indeed, does not like this; but
they should learn to flute their own ruffles. Who knows but they may
marry an army officer, and go to Nebraska?

All sorts of fine washing and ironing, all sorts of doing up of lace,
of renovating old silks, etc., may be made into Home Amusements,
if done cheerfully, and in the right spirit. The modern embroidery
requiring pressing, the many modern accomplishments of lace-making,
_appliqué_, etc., lead a young lady into the kitchen, and she can
derive a vast deal of amusement from this room, if she chooses.

One of the holiest of duties is to learn how to cook for the sick. This
requires a great deal of patient talent, and it is a sufficient reward
if we can see the beloved convalescent tasting our arrowroot and sago,
and good beef-tea and jelly, with approbation.

Among Home Amusements, how many reckon the jolly party assembled
to make the wedding-cake? Susan and Sarah shall stone the raisins,
Charlotte and Clara shall beat the eggs, Louisa shall slice the citron,
Matilda, who has a judicial mind, shall weigh! Then all shall stir, and
who shall be the one to get the ring?

The baking is momentous. Mamma had better be consulted here. And then
the great question of the icing! Oh! how anxious! The mince-pies
require another season of deep thought and much very stringent
stirring. The excellent brandy, the dash of orange curaçoa, must be
poured out by the lady, else why is it that ever after the mince-pie
seems to lack that inspiriting and hidden fire? We read that there is
many a slip between the cup and the lip!

The modern elegant devices by which strawberries, violets, and
orange-blossoms are candied in sugar, effect a Home Amusement for
dainty-fingered girls; and since the establishment in Boston of a
cooking club, at which each young lady is to contribute some article of
her own cooking, we see signs of a revival in all branches of the great
art of cookery which is most encouraging. It was a notable old maxim
among Puritan mothers that every wife should know how to make bread,
and, perhaps, it has not died out yet.

Looking at the subject broadly, every thoroughly accomplished woman
should know how to do everything, from making a soup up to a cup of
tea--the Alpha and the Omega of cookery.

In the matter of flavoring, the colored race have us at a great
disadvantage. Any old colored cook can distance her white “Missus”
here. This highly-gifted race seem to have a sixth sense on the subject
of flavors. The rich tropical nature breaks out in reminiscences of
orange-blossoms, pineapple, guava, cocoanut, and Mandarin orange.
Never can the descendants of the poor, half-starved, frozen exiles
of Plymouth Rock hope to achieve such custards and puddings as these
Ethiops turn out. And as to the juicyness of their fried oysters and
their inimitable terrapin, who has ever approached them? It is as if
a luxurious and tasteful, beneficent power had left us, when we were
given what we proudly call a “higher intelligence.” Who would not
exchange all the cold mathematical supremacy in which we glory for that
luscious gift of making pies and puddings _à ravir_?



XXI.

THE FAMILY HORSE, AND OTHER PETS.


Standing at the kitchen door, all ready for the most timorous to drive,
is the most important minister to the Home Amusements--the family
horse. He is a beast of burden, no doubt. There is but little Arab
steed left in him, if, indeed, there ever was much. He is a plodder,
a patient, much put-upon beast. The boys can harness him, the girls
can drive him. He is allowed to take out grandma--when she consents to
be driven, and isn’t afraid of the railroad train, and does not think
that it is going to rain. The baby, when he takes his first adventurous
journey down the village street, is put in state and in blankets behind
the family horse. No one is afraid of Blossom. No one likes to whip
him, because if he were whipped, what antics he might give way to!

Blossom is an exceedingly inappropriate name. Dried Leaf would be far
more descriptive. Still Blossom is adhered to, because the suggestion
that he was once young, and that really he is frisky, in his silent
way, is still a delightful legend in the family.

Blossom, who is an intelligent old beast, knows perfectly well how
utterly weak and imbecile the whole family are about him. So he will
never do anything but walk and trot very gently, because he knows
that no one dares to whip him. Once a young cousin, who had none of
the family reverence for Blossom, did give him a few cuts on his
exceedingly smooth, fat sides. Blossom had the presence of mind to
stand up on his hind legs, frightening mamma nearly to death; and she
mentioned, in Blossom’s hearing, that “he never was to be whipped
again, because he really had a great deal of fire in him, and would not
brook whip or spur!”

“I remember, dear,” she says, “your father says that he heard, when he
bought him, that he came of very proud stock.”

It has been noticed that when papa wishes to catch the train Blossom
can go as fast as anybody.

Blossom is a great pet, and he has that instinct of a good family
horse--he stops when anything is wrong. Once, when the harness broke,
Blossom, instead of running, stopped short, and saved the lives of
the whole family. He has a quick ear for a coming railway train, and
never has balked going up hill. The girls feed him with sugar, and take
their first ride on his dear, safe, hard old back. The boys have had
imaginary jousts with neighboring knights, urging him in the lists. He
has been put through all the sports of the middle ages, has Blossom,
and probably he distrusts the institution of chivalry. Still, he likes
the boys, and does all that a phlegmatic temperament and an indomitable
laziness will allow in the way of a spirited and impulsive charge.

There _are_ persons whom Blossom dislikes; one is the spinster sister,
Miss Caroline, who drives him with many a whirrup, and “get up,” and
“g’lang,” and has a nervous twitch to her hand, and a distrustful and
uncertain temper with the whip. Miss Caroline nags Blossom, as she has
nagged everything and everybody all her life, and Blossom resents her
absence of repose and confidence by starting wildly to right and left
as he goes down the village street, appearing to make for a distant
fence when she is endeavoring to guide his nose toward the gate of the
parsonage. Indeed, the village wit says that if he sees only the back
of the family carriage he can tell that Miss Caroline is driving, as he
watches that respected vehicle describing parabolas and angles as it
wobbles down the street.

When mamma drives, Blossom goes in a slow, stately, but dignified
manner, and, although he imposes upon her good-nature, and does not
put forth any mile-in-three-minutes style, yet he shows a due respect
for himself and her. When the girls drive him, he, feeling through
the reins a little of the ichor of their young blood, becomes almost
vivacious, and goes almost half as fast as he can go. When papa drives,
he feels a strong hand behind him, and actually gets there.

Every family should have as many animals as possible. Dogs of every
breed and variety--especially big ones, and good ones, like mastiffs
and Newfoundlands, and a few little ones to play with. Cats and
kittens, if they like them, rabbits, goats, pigeons, lambs, peacocks,
etc., and as much live-stock as can be accommodated about the place
should be there. These four-footed friends, especially dogs, are
indispensable in the country. What attachments one forms for them! How
dreary the hour when they die! Perhaps, then, we wish that they had
not been so intimate, so dear, so loving, so trustful. The walk, the
ramble, the quiet seat on the piazza--all, all must be endeared by the
silent friendship of the dogs.

There is sometimes a want of harmony among the pets. Carlo must be shut
up while Flirt is at large, and the parrot must be kept away from the
pigeons. The parrot can take care of herself as to the cats; but how
about the canaries and the blackcap? Eternal vigilance is the price of
liberty, and the only safety of slavery.

And yet these enforced duties: do they not fit the boys for the cares
of government? Do they not tell the future politician what he is to do?
Are they not, after all, a part of that great education which Home,
and only Home, can give us?

We shall have few friends so faithful as Blossom, few who will impose
upon us so gently, and who will really impose upon us to our advantage.
We shall have few such friends as Carlo and Flirt, who love us, faults
and all; who never ask what wrong we have committed, or how unworthy
we are, but who are, without doubt, the most flattering of worshipers,
loving us simply because we are _ourselves_. How few love us for that,
and that alone!



XXII.

IN CONCLUSION.


In looking over our list of Home Amusements--the private theatricals,
the tableaux vivants, the brain games, the fortune-telling, the making
of screens, the painting of fans, etc.; the games at cards, the
etching, the lawn tennis, the dancing, the garden party, the window
gardens, the birds, the picnics, the plaque-painting, the archery, the
parlor and the kitchen--we can only feel how much we have left out.
Why have we not spoken more fully of the library, with its quiet and
respectable arm-chairs, its green table, its shelves filled with those
silent friends who never desert us, its paper-cutter, its wood-fire,
its latest magazine, its quiet, and the heavy curtain dropped at
evening? How did we happen to so slight this delightful room, wherein
so many of the best amusements of home are always arranging themselves?
Perhaps because the story told itself, and we did not need to tell it.

How could we have forgotten the quest for green apples and
choke-cherries in the spring, or the subsequent repentance? the
bird-snaring and nesting? and in summer the search for wild flowers?
the attempts at making an herbarium? the berry-picking? the nutting
in the fall? that cracking of butternuts by the winter fire? that
arrangement of the autumn-leaves?

Simply because the record of Home Amusements is endless. It is almost
all of life which is worth remembering.

But we can not leave the reader here, particularly if that kindly
personage be a young lady, without congratulating her upon the age in
which she exists. She finds vastly more to amuse her in her home-life
than her mother or her grandmother did before her. They were content
to receive once a month “The Lady’s Book,” with a few hints as to
lace-work, worsted-work, patterns for the embroidering of slippers
or sofa-cushions. A new suggestion for embroidery on white cambric,
or, through a friend in some great mart of fashion, the cut pattern
of an article of dress--think of that, ye who get the fashions by
telegraph. Dress itself was a crude thing compared to what it is now.
There was not even at Newport the slightest approximation to the luxury
of to-day. A “London-made” habit, for instance, was almost unknown.
There was no “riding to hounds,” no skating rink, no casino; there
were quiet dinners, and very many “Germans,” but they were conducted
inexpensively, at the hotels almost universally.

Of course, New York and Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, offered
an exciting life to the prominent and fashionable women of the day for
a few weeks of the season. But the long life at home of the rank and
file, the severe winters, during whose rigors the ardent and ambitious
and pleasure-loving were shut up for months behind four dreary walls,
were not illumined by patterns of artistic fancy-work from South
Kensington, or by the delightful knowledge of china painting. No
ingenious boy or girl thought of cutting or carving in wood beyond the
vulgar whittling, which all good housekeepers condemned. The elderly
lady sat about with her knitting--very plain knitting at that. The
crochet-needle had not then begun that endless chain which has since
united our vast continent in a network of elaborate tidies, and covered
our babies with delicate flannel Josies, or given us, for the head
and neck, the softest of wraps. The sewing-machine had not begun its
prodigious march down our long seams. People did much “plain sewing,”
but knew not of artistic curtains made of cheesecloth, or of unbleached
muslin elaborated into Roman scarfs--a singular marriage, by the way,
of Lowell and its looms with the Eternal City, all of which they know
now.

Young ladies had not then been taught to draw and paint artistically,
sincerely, as they are taught to-day. The education in music was
infinitely less thorough. It was an age when the person who aspired
to the accomplishments had much to contend against. There were but
few railroads which penetrated to the remote villages; and it must be
confessed that life had its dull evenings.

But around the one astral lamp which then shed its uncertain rays upon
the family circle there were the same elements of which human society
is now composed, and there was one amusement present whose absence we
now sometimes have to regret. We refer to that lost art of conversation
which has, it would seem, departed from our busy last half of the
nineteenth century. Indeed, it has left the whole world, if we can
believe Cornelius O’Dowd, Mrs. Stowe, and Mrs. Julia Ward Howe, and
even some French writers. Mrs. Stowe, in one of her books of early New
England life, referring to the art of conversation, speaks feelingly
of the change. Young ladies were driven by the very dullness of their
lives to be readers of good books. There were many admirable historical
scholars and Shakespeareans among the New England girls of a past
generation. They read Milton and John Bunyan, and the early essayists
and poets. Their novels had been written for them by Walter Scott and
Miss Austen, and they were an education in themselves.

And conversation, such as we do not hear often, lighted up those
long winter evenings. Perhaps, too, this very quiet and dullness was
helping to forge the armor of some heroine who was to take her part
in civilizing the West. Certainly it made some great women. However,
as we take account of what little we may have lost, we are very
grateful for all we have gained. Our present civilization rubs out
individuality, no doubt. Life is smothered in appliances.

What is called the higher education of women, and the very superior
culture now possible, may not have yet made a race of good talkers, but
it has undoubtedly made an army of thinkers.

It certainly has helped to fill the country with refined and happy
girls, who have no reason to complain of repression. It would seem
almost impossible to find now the repressed, morbid, undeveloped, and
crushed natures which a gloomy religion and a lingering of Puritan
prejudice made almost too common in early New England. Many of those
women still live, and have found expression in literature to tell us
how devoid their homes were of amusement.

The world is not filled with geniuses, or with those fortunate people
who can evolve an amusing life from out of the depths of their inner
consciousness. We may, therefore, be very grateful for every innocent
amusement. Indeed, we may be very grateful that amateur concerts,
little operettas, cantatas, musical clubs, are now common, and that
the performers, young ladies of all ranks and classes, are admirably
trained in music; that in decorative art industries they are no longer
novices, but deserving of the higher name of artist.

All these better developments of the mind and power of each inmate can
not but render home interesting, gay, cheerful, happy, blessed.

And all the Home Amusements should be made, or studied to be made, the
amusements of the whole.

No pursuit or pleasure can be carried on in the best spirit without
being in some measure unselfish if it conduces to the amusement of
home. Thus the indulgence of a favorite taste may have the beauty of
philanthropy in it, if it is made to help along the cheerfulness of
home.

There are some trades which are solitary and exclusive. Authorship
is one of these; and perhaps the author is not always a very amusing
inmate. But the actor in the private play, the clever and ready wit
who makes the charade lively, the musician, the embroideress, the
fortune-teller, the good partner at whist, the clever amateur cook, and
the artistic member--these can all add to Home Amusements.

                               THE END.


FOOTNOTE:

[A] This was the invention of a poor poet named Dulot, who found rhymes
for other poets.



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    Transcriber's Note:

    Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as
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    Italic text has been marked with _underscores_.





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