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Title: Common Sense for Housemaids
Author: Tytler, Ann Fraser
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Common Sense for Housemaids" ***

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                              COMMON SENSE

                                 A LADY.

                             Second Edition.

                    THOMAS HATCHARD, 187, PICCADILLY.

                   G. J. PALMER, SAVOY STREET, STRAND.



    Brass, how to clean                    22

    Bug poison                              9

    Carefulness, hints on                  86

    Carpets, how to clean                  26

    Clear-starching                        77

    Dress, observations on                 90

    Daily work, Housemaids’             34-75

    Economy, observations on               91

    Fire, how to light                     38

    Floor-cloth, how to clean              33

    French polish, how to clean         15-20

    Grates, how to clean            8, 18, 35

    Lamps, how to clean                    59

    Mahogany, how to clean              16-21

    Marble, how to clean                   19

    Mirrors, how to clean               16-24

    Nursing the sick, hints on             94

    Paint, mixture for washing             11

    Painted walls, how to clean            20

    Papered walls, how to clean            14

    Picture frames, how to clean           24

    Pipeclay, how to prepare               31

    Plate, how to clean                    81

    Scouring floor, different ways of      12

    Stairs, how to clean                   31

    Sweeping, ways of                      11

    Washing muslins and lace               76

    Windows, how to clean                  23


Arrived yesterday in Cavendish Square at half-past five o’clock, for a
visit of a few days. Much fatigued, but wonderfully sustained in spirits
during the journey, by the prospect of seeing a dear friend, the ten
thousand comforts of her well-regulated establishment, and the bright
visions of the appearance of my accustomed bed-room. Again and again, had
it risen before my mind’s eye, in all its glory. The inviting appearance
of the smooth, flat, well-made bed, with the light night quilt of snowy
whiteness (and the heavy creature folded aside); the easy chair, and
footstool (with their bright crimson covers), turned towards the clear
glowing fire; the dear little kettle of silvery brightness, on the hob,
singing its accustomed song to its grateful mistress. A chair before the
toilet, with its pink and pure white drapery. The bright looking-glass
reflecting crystal candlesticks, wax-lights, and essence-bottles, with
all the perfumes of Arabia. The washhand-stand, a perfect picture,
surrounded by a hundred towels. The rose soap giving out sweet odours.
The additional large tumbler for the saline draft, the cup and spoon, for
less pleasant powders. Alas, alas! how are all those glories buried in
the dust, and dust is now indeed the order of the day; my friend is the
same in heart and soul, but she has sprained her ancle, and changed her

Hurried to my room to dress, as the dinner was to be at six o’clock; went
straight to the accustomed corner, where my trunk, resting upon a stand,
uncovered and uncorded, used to be placed in readiness to be opened.
The stand was empty, the trunk upon the carpet, the ropes and cover
still on and covered with dust. Rang the bell; no one answered, rang a
second time; the housemaid entered, undid the ropes, removed the dusty
cover, and left the room. Turned to unlock my trunk, found it had been
placed with the lock turned towards the wall; tried to re-turn it—found
it impossible—rang again for the housemaid, and with our united efforts
turned the trunk—stooped to unlock it, and found too late that the dust
of weeks was on the carpet—shook it in disgust from my silk dress, and
advanced in haste to the washhand-stand, to wash the remembrance from
my hands at least,—found no soap, no warm water; fortunately had soap
in my dressing-box, and, unwilling to apply a third time to a bell-rope
of most frail and suspicious appearance, washed with ice-cold water,
and having performed my toilet with inconvenient haste, descended to
the drawing-room, and found that the dinner had been on the table some
minutes. Forgot my discomforts in most agreeable conversation—but much
fatigued, was thankful to retire at night, though with secret misgivings
as to the discomforts I might perceive on re-entering my room. Opened the
door and perceived nothing, the smoke impenetrable, and the fire out;
rushed towards the window, threw it open, a rush also of wind and sleet,
and the candle became extinguished; groped my way to the bell, pulled
it vigorously, heard no sound, felt only a blow upon my cheek, and the
bell-rope in my hand—wished it around the neck of a fellow-creature,
advanced a few steps, got entangled in the ropes and cover of my trunk
(still left upon the ground), stumbled and fell—found the door at last,
and rushing out upon the landing-place, with the bell-rope in one hand,
and all that remained of the crystal candlestick in the other, called
franticly, _Housemaid, housemaid!_ Mr. B—— sprang from his dressing-room
en robe de chambre. “What is the matter, is it fire?” he exclaimed.
“Alas, it is neither fire nor candle,” was my melancholy answer, and
my dark history was given. The housemaid, half undressed and sulky was
brought into the room. The thick crust of small coal, through which no
air could penetrate was removed, sufficient wood to light a dozen fires,
thrust into the grate, pieces of small coal added, and all was soon in
a blaze; the window was shut down, and the water on the washhand-stand,
having once been warm, I resolved to be thankful for small mercies, and,
pretending not to feel the smoke which lurked in every corner of the
room, as well as in my throat, undressed and went to bed—“_To bed_, but
not to _sleep_.” O the variety of _mountain heights_, and the scarcity of
_pleasant plains_! fell asleep at last holding fast by the side of the
bed, dreamt I was a swift rolling _snow-ball_, and awoke upon the floor.

Two more nights have passed—No, I will not detail them. What is
friendship but a name?

I will leave the house——



This little book is intended to convey instruction with regard to
a housemaid’s duties to the most ignorant in the simplest possible
language. Many will throw it aside in indignation, and exclaim, “Does
it require a book to be written to tell us that the drawing-room grate
should be the first thing cleaned and polished, and not left till a room
is swept and dusted, or that if the apartment has not been used for
some time, and the carpet carefully covered up, it is better to leave
it covered till the walls have been swept down, and the window-curtains
brushed?” Strange as it may appear, such advice we have more than once
found necessary; we therefore address ourselves to those who for want of
regular training, and from not bringing common sense into practice, have
fallen into similar errors to those here alluded to, and to a still more
numerous race, who are every day leaving their father’s cottage with the
desire to obtain a housemaid’s place, and would therefore willingly learn
something of a housemaid’s duties.

A housemaid’s duties are various, and by no means easy of attainment; for
she has to contend against a host of enemies—dust, soot, smoke, rust,
insects of various kinds, and bad smells innumerable; let her, however,
not be discouraged; all difficulties will give way before early rising,
habits of activity, an acute nose, frequent open windows, and a teachable
spirit; let us therefore proceed without further preface to give our best
advice as to cleaning a house thoroughly after the six winter months of
smoke and dust.

Let all the dusters and brushes which will be required, be carefully
washed the day before you begin the work of cleaning. To sweep with a
dirty brush will do more harm to a carpet than to leave it unswept; and
a chair-cover, rubbed with a soiled duster, is injured in a way which no
after-dusting can remove.

Let the stair-carpet be first taken up and folded to be beaten with
the other carpets. If the family are absent, it is better that all the
carpets which require to be beaten should be taken up at the same time
and sent away, and all the chimneys swept before the cleaning begins.
But if the family are at home, this should not be done, as the cleaning
should then only begin in one room at a time, so as to occasion as little
discomfort and inconvenience as possible.

Let the stairs be first swept down after the carpet has been removed,
taking care that all the bed-room doors be previously shut. If the
chimneys in the attics are to be swept, place a mat on the upper
landing-place, and if the rooms have carpets, let the carpets be taken up
in as many of the rooms as can be cleaned in one day: as the carpets in
the upper rooms are, generally small, they are in most families beaten
in the court below; the window and bed-curtains should also be taken
down and well shaken and brushed below stairs, and the beds carefully
covered up with a covering-sheet, well tucked in all round, that no soot
may penetrate; then remove the tables and chairs into the landing-place,
if there is space sufficient, turning the bottom of one chair down upon
the bottom of another; if the landing-place is too small, remove them
into one of the attics, and let this room be the last swept and scoured.
As soon as the chimney is swept, let the soot be carefully collected,
and the housemaid follow the sweep down stairs, taking care that he
previously has rubbed his feet upon the mat, and also that he does not
allow the bag of soot which he carries to touch the walls as he passes
down,—this should be still more attended to, when some one chimney in
a house may require to be swept at a time when the stair-carpet is not
taken up; to have a handsome brussels carpet stained with soot is no
light misfortune to a feeling heart, to trace the creature at every step
is no pleasant journey.

The grate is next to be cleansed, and if polished with black lead, two
brushes are to be used, one for putting on the lead, and the other for
polishing. The fire-irons and fender to be scoured with emery cloth,
and then rubbed quickly with a woollen cloth. All the articles required
for the grates should be kept in a box for the purpose, and a coarse
sheet should also be kept in the housemaid’s closet to be laid down
whenever a grate is to be scoured: this may seem unnecessary in an attic
room where the carpet may be shabby, or perhaps where there may be no
carpet,—but the habit acquired is everything; where no sheet is laid
down above-stairs, pokers, tongs, even dust-pans, are often put down on
the drawing-room carpet, without a feeling of remorse; a well-trained
housemaid would shudder at such a spectacle. The sweeping down of the
cornices and walls should now be attended to. Let a pair of steps be
brought into the room, and (taking care that they are stretched out to
their full extent, so as to stand quite steady on the floor), let the
housemaid, mounted on them with a long broom, sweep away the cobwebs
and dust from the ceiling and cornices, sweeping also behind each
window-shutter, and round the ceilings and shelves of the different
presses in the room. The long broom should then be covered with a bag of
coarse flannel, and the walls thoroughly swept down. After this has been
done, spread a large sheet on the floor, and let the bedding be removed
upon it and covered up, the frame of the bed thoroughly well brushed,
and also all the edges and corners of the sacking bottom, where dust
can lodge, and let the bed-posts and stock be well rubbed till no soil
remains on the duster. Then with a feather or small hair-brush, anoint
every joint and crevice with the following mixture:—

Put one ounce of corrosive sublimate into a pint of spirits of wine—shake
the phial well, and keep it closely corked except when in use. Poison
should be written in large letters on the phial, and great care taken to
keep it in a safe place out of the reach of children.

Should the housemaid be called away, even for a moment, while she is
using this mixture, let her not leave the room till she has put this
phial out of the reach of every one. If the beds are kept free from dust,
and every spring anointed with this mixture, there will be no risk of
their becoming infested by those creatures which it is impossible to
name, but which are very dreadful. Clothes-baskets from the laundress for
this reason should never be brought into the bed-rooms. The clean linen
should be carefully looked over below, and hung upon a screen before the
fire, to be made thoroughly dry before it is put into the drawers or
wardrobes. The dusting and anointing of the bed-frames being completed,
proceed next to switch and brush the bedding—an old riding whip is an
excellent thing for switching bedding or the cushions of chairs, as
anything heavy and unyielding is apt to cut them; as soon as you have
made the bedding free from dust, replace it on the bed, and cover all up
with a sheet, well tucked in, leaving the bed-curtains to be put up, and
the bed-linen put on after the cleaning of the room has been completed.

We come next to sweeping the floor previous to having it scoured. There
are various modes of sweeping, and of non-sweeping; the non-sweepers
follow the principle of letting _the wee pickle stour lie_ (as they say
in Scotland)—they wash on the top of the dust, and the inky appearance
of the boards brings no feeling of shame to their darkened minds; other
young housemaids, again, sweep with an air, giving a slight toss up with
the broom, at every motion of the hand, so as to make the dust mount up
and settle on all that has been previously cleaned; a tidy young woman,
on the contrary, sprinkles the floor first with tea-leaves, she then
lays the broom close to the boards as she moves along, sweeping gently,
but thoroughly, and leaving no spot unswept. If there are closets in the
room, let them be first swept, and the doors shut, then sweep under the
beds and chests of drawers, &c., before sweeping the other parts of the
room. The scouring should then commence: the first thing to be washed is
the paint of the window shutters, doors, chimney-piece, and wainscots all
round, and this should be done with the following mixture. To every quart
of soft boiling water, add half an ounce of soft soap, and half an ounce
of pearlash. Soda is too strong, and injures the paint. Let this mixture
dissolve before using it. If the room is to be in immediate use, boiled
yellow soap may be used with the pearlash, as the smell of the soft soap
is disagreeable at first. Scour the paint (a small portion at a time)
with a coarse flannel and this mixture; rub straight up and down, then
wash with a clean flannel and plenty of water a little warm (cold water
makes paint look clouded), and dry with a linen cloth, rubbing briskly:
where there is carving above doors or mouldings, use a painter’s brush,
with the soap and pearlash instead of the flannel, as it gets better
into the carved wood, and then wash with a flannel and water. The floor
is next to be scoured, with a little soda mixed in soft warm water—wet
a small portion of the floor with your washing-cloth of coarse flannel,
rub yellow soap upon your scrubbing-brush, and scrub hard up and down the
boards, but never across, then wash well off with clean cold water, and
dry with a coarse cloth. In Yorkshire a wisp of straw, tightly rolled up
and doubled, is used in scrubbing floors instead of a scouring-brush, and
sand instead of soap, and the floors are beautifully clean and white; but
this method is not understood in London; the sand there is generally of a
dull grey colour, and the dust and smoke of a large city require soap and
hard scrubbing. Except in country-houses, the German method of sweeping
and washing at the same time would not answer either; there the sleeping
apartments are generally without carpets, and a broom is seldom used in
sweeping them; a coarse cloth is passed through water, and being wrung
out, is drawn across the floor in every direction, and by this method no
dust is raised upon the furniture.

The windows and doors should be left open that the floor may dry quickly,
and while it is drying, the furniture outside the room should be dusted
and rubbed. The furniture in the attics being generally painted wood,
will require to be washed twice a-year with the same mixture as the other
paint in the room, taking care to do it lightly, and to wash it quickly
off with water. The carpet having been well beaten, should then be put
down, straight and tight, upon the clean floor; a few small nails are
requisite for this; but as the carpets in the attics are generally small,
they require to be but slightly nailed down, and should be frequently
raised: the furniture should now be restored to its proper place, and the
door of the room shut; and after each of the attics has been cleaned in
a similar manner the housemaid will proceed to the bed-room story. There
all will be done as before; the furniture removed, the window-curtains
and bed-curtains taken down to be switched and brushed, the beds covered
up, and the carpet lifted, the chimney having been previously swept and
the soot removed. The grate and fire-irons will next be scoured, the
beds switched and brushed, and the mixture used for the bed-stock; the
cornices will be swept, and the paint of the doors, window-shutters,
&c., &c., taking care that in sweeping the paper on the walls the long
broom be covered with a clean flannel bag, which should be frequently
shaken and turned during the operation; for if the flannel is not clean
the paper will look worse than it did before. Paper on walls can be made
to look almost new by being cleaned with stale bread; this is a more
tedious process; when it is to be done, however, after sweeping the walls
with the broom covered with flannel, take a quartern loaf of stale bread
three days old, cut it into four pieces, and holding the crust in your
hand, rub lightly downwards, taking about half a yard at each stroke;
the next time of going round the room begin a little above where the
last stroke ended, and take care not to rub across the paper or to go up
again. The floor having been sprinkled with tea-leaves, should be swept
before the bread is used for the walls, and it will require to be swept
a second time before washing the paint of the window-shutters, doors,
chimney-piece, and scouring the floor commences. If the carpet does
not entirely cover the room, attention should be observed in scouring
thoroughly those places not covered, as nothing gives a greater look of
cleanliness to a room than nicely cleaned boards: scrub hard straight up
and down with the scrubbing-brush and soap, and then wash well off with
clean cold water; it is a mistake to think that warm water is necessary
for the washing off; cold water does quite as well, and is better, as it
is more easily changed: to change the water often is most necessary in
scouring floors: many housemaids scour the floor constantly, and yet they
have always a black soiled look, from the water not being sufficiently
clean. The bed-room furniture is next to be attended to: where the
mahogany is French-polished, rubbing lightly with a dry soft cloth is
generally all that is necessary; but if the furniture is soiled in any
way, then wash it over with a sponge and water (a little warm), and rub
lightly with the cloth till quite dry and clear. Where there is no French
polish, dust the mahogany well, and with cold drawn linseed oil, mixed
with a little turpentine, wash it over with a sponge, and rub briskly
and well with a soft woollen or linen cloth; the rubbing does more,
in polishing the wood, than any mixture you can use. Many people mix
bees’-wax with the oil, and this makes the furniture look well at the
moment, but it gives a fictitious brightness, which every finger-touch
or drop of water will dim; the polish produced by rubbing is superior
to French polish or any other. The oil should not often be put on, and
never while the slightest dampness remains on the mahogany. Some servants
use a great deal of oil and very little rubbing, the consequence of
which is, that little or no lasting polish is acquired; the dust sticks
to the furniture, and gives it a dull soiled look. Nothing gives one a
greater idea of care and cleanliness than to see all the mahogany looking
bright and clear; the legs and rims of tables, and all that is below as
well as above, should be attended to; amongst other bright things the
looking-glass must not be omitted: after the mahogany frame has been
well rubbed up, the glass should be washed with pure cold water, dried
with a clean soft cloth, and polished with a silk handkerchief: if the
bed-room chairs have loose chintz covers, they should be taken off and
well shaken before the mahogany of the chairs is rubbed up, then put on
again as tightly as possible, and rubbed lightly with a clean cloth; all
this having been done, before the furniture is brought into the room, the
carpet, having been beaten, should be put down perfectly straight, drawn
as tight as possible, and slightly nailed; there is nothing looks worse
in a room than to see a carpet all pulled awry, and the stripes and seams
running across instead of straight up and down. The furniture should now
be replaced, the bed-curtains put on, the bed made up for use,[1] and the
blinds let down, so as to keep the room cool and preserve the carpet.

All the bed-rooms having been thoroughly cleaned in the same manner, the
drawing-room should be next attended to. If there are two drawing-rooms,
the chairs and lighter furniture should be removed into the one while
the other is being cleaned; if there is but one room, and there is not
space on the landing-place, the chairs should be placed, one turned
down upon another, in the most convenient corner of the room that can
be found for them; the carpet and rug should be taken up to be beaten,
and the window-curtains taken down to be well shaken in the court below,
then spread upon a table and thoroughly brushed, and if winter curtains,
folded up and laid aside, or, if summer muslin curtains, washed. In
putting aside winter-curtains, coverlids, &c., when not in use, a sheet
should be spread in the bottom of a drawer, the curtains folded to the
size of the drawer, laid perfectly smooth, and the sheet brought over
them, so that no dust can get in at the sides. Curtains or any other
things, put into a drawer uncovered, get marked at the edges if they lie
any length of time. Next, the pictures, if easily removed, should be
taken down, and china and chimney ornaments, books, &c., &c., put into
some closet or safe place, and dusting sheets thrown over the sofas,
mirrors, &c., &c.: all this, if it can be managed, should be done at
night, that the room may be ready for the sweeps in the morning. The
chimneys of sitting-rooms, where there is constant fire, should be swept
at least twice a year; a third time, in the middle of winter, may be
necessary for some chimneys; in this case it will be necessary to pin up
the curtains, and enclose them in bags similar to pillow-cases, and to
cover the carpet and furniture completely with sheets, as, even with the
most careful sweeps, a great deal of soot finds its way into the room.
As soon as the soot has been removed the scouring of the grate should
commence; if a bright polished steel grate, it should be rubbed with fine
emery cloth, or with a paste of fine emery powder, No. 3, mixed with
boiled soap; after rubbing well with a piece of woollen cloth and this
paste, polish with glass-paper (not sand-paper), and finish off with
soft dry chamois leather, rubbing quickly and lightly till quite bright.
The marble chimney-piece should then be first dusted carefully and
thoroughly with the small dusting-brush, and afterwards washed, rubbing
soap on a soft brush or sponge, so as to get the dust and smoke out of
all the ornaments; if they are deeply carved, so that the brush does not
get into the crevices, use a little bit of wood bluntly pointed, for
nothing gives a marble chimney-piece a worse appearance than dust lodging
in the ornaments; whether flowers or figures, let the roses, if roses
there be, be pure and white, and Cupid’s face particularly clean. All
this having been done, cover the whole up with a covering sheet, putting
one end of the sheet on the marble chimney-piece, with a weight to keep
it down, and letting the rest hang like a curtain before the grate, to
preserve it also free from dust; sweep the room then for the first time,
sprinkling the floor first with tea-leaves, to keep down the dust as much
as possible; after this let the long steps be brought into the room:
place them alongside the wall at such a distance as to give the full
use of the broom; before getting upon the steps, see that the feet are
put out as far as they can stretch, so that they stand quite firm; then
fearlessly mount upon them, and with the long broom covered with a clean
flannel bag sweep the cornice and walls straight down, leaving no spot
untouched; shake the dust frequently from the bag, and turn it during the
operation. The small dusting-brush should next be used, for dusting the
paint of the doors, window-shutters, and wainscoting all round the room,
and the floor should be swept a second time: proceed then to wash the
paint which you have dusted with the mixture of boiled soap and pearlash,
and scour the floor with yellow soap and soda, in the same manner as
directed in the bed-rooms.

While the floor and the paint are drying the furniture should be cleaned;
if either the rose-wood or mahogany furniture is French polished, dusting
and rubbing it, as has already been mentioned, with a soft dry cloth,
is all that is necessary, or, if spotted or stained in any way, let it
be first washed over with a sponge and warm water (but not too hot), as
warm water is better than cold for French polish; then rub briskly but
lightly with a soft cloth till the brightness is restored. A mixture is
now sold for reviving French polish, which has considerable effect for a
short time, but requires to be frequently repeated, and is by no means
sufficient to give lustre to any article which has not been previously
polished; in this case the cold drawn linseed oil, for unpolished
articles, with a little turpentine, is the best mixture to be used, and
will, in time, with a great deal of rubbing, produce a lustre equal to
French polish, and much more durable, as not liable to be worn off or
easily scratched, but on the contrary, increasing with years, and kept
bright with very little labour after the polish has once been obtained.

As directions have been given with regard to cleaning mahogany in the
bed-rooms, it is needless so particularly to repeat them here; the
rubbing is at first the great matter, and cannot be done too often; very
little oil and a great deal of rubbing is the root of the business; it
is not enough to rub the furniture of a room with a view to polish it
on the great cleaning days, a little every day makes, in time, a great
impression; a really good housemaid should never be able to be alone in
a room with a table or a chair without giving it a good rub, or, if the
room is occupied, without _wishing_ to do so. Tables and chairs should
be to her objects of deep interest; after her own family and the family
of her mistress, they should claim the next place in her affections;
she should steadily contemplate them between her and the light, and in
all various points of view, and if they present themselves to her sight
without spot or blemish, shedding a bright lustre over her past labours,
she may rejoice in the work of her hands.

All the brass in the room comes next to be polished; the plates and
handles of the doors and of the bells, the castors, &c., &c., should be
cleaned with rotten-stone and oil, and rubbed with leather till quite
bright; care should be taken not to soil the paint in doing this; there
is nothing so ugly as a black rim round the handle, or to see the mark of
dirty fingers on the door itself, giving evidence that the housemaid’s
mode of shutting the door is not by turning the handle, but by pulling
the door itself. This strange dislike to touching the handle of a door,
this constant habit of putting the hand either above the handle or below
it, anywhere, in short, but on the handle itself, seems a prevailing
disease amongst housemaids; the consequence is, that one often sees the
paint, either above or below the handle, entirely rubbed off, and the
wood shining through from the necessity of frequent scouring, or, if
there are brass plates to prevent this, they have constantly a dull and
smeared appearance: in scouring either the handle or brass plate all
marks of the rotten-stone may be prevented by having a duster in one
hand to cover the paint, while the other hand is employed in scouring the

Where there is a balcony, and the drawing-room windows can be cleaned
in safety, this should next be done; the footman generally assists in
this work. The window, both outside and in, should be first dusted with
a light dusting-brush, and the footman being outside, and the housemaid
mounted on the steps within, each should clean the same pane at the same
time, that it may be more easily cleaned, and not left in streaks, which
is apt to be the case where only one side is cleaned at a time: a little
Spanish whiting, mixed with very little water, should be rubbed over
each pane and washed off with a woollen cloth or sponge (but sponge,
unless after long use, is liable to have particles of sand in it, which
may scratch the glass, and injure its appearance); each pane should be
finished and rubbed bright with a clean dry linen cloth, and particular
attention paid to cleaning well at the edges and corners, as dim corners
will entirely spoil the look of the most newly-cleaned window; the sun
should not strike on the window when it is being cleaned, nor should this
work ever be attempted during frost, as the glass will then be much more
apt to crack. The frequency with which windows should be thus thoroughly
cleaned on both sides will depend much on the situation of the house; in
the country three or four times during the year may be sufficient, while
in London, in many situations, once a month may not suffice: the inside
of each window should be rubbed at least once a week, when the room is
regularly done out, but a cleanly housemaid will give many a rub between
times; nothing improved the look of everything within the room so much as
transparent windows. The windows being all cleaned, and the bannisters
brushed outside, the balcony should be washed over with soap and water,
and the work within the room again proceeded with.

The frames of the pictures and mirrors must next be attended to. The
frames should be lightly dusted, for the flowers or other projecting
parts, being generally made of plaster, are easily broken, and even when
in carved wood the edges and corners may be chipped off and disfigured;
a feather-brush should therefore be used for this purpose; the glass of
both mirrors and pictures should be washed over with a woollen cloth and
pure cold water, dried with a soft clean linen cloth, and polished with
a silk handkerchief, which should be kept for the purpose; but if the
glass be either dimmed by fly marks or smoke, it may be necessary to
wash it over with spirits, then dust it over with powder-blue in a small
muslin bag, rub it up with a soft linen cloth, and finally polish it
with a silk handkerchief. If there are portraits in the room not glazed,
which appear to require cleaning, they might be gently washed over with
cold water without being injured, but on no account touched with soap;
it is however safer merely to dust them, and even this should be with a
feather-brush, and very lightly done; it is impossible to take too great
care of such precious possessions; an injury given to a valuable portrait
or painting no money can repair.

Should much dust have fallen from the pictures and mirrors, &c., &c., it
may be necessary to sprinkle with tea-leaves and sweep round the sides
of the room very lightly before laying down the carpet, or else remove
the dust by drawing a coarse damp cloth round the room as they do in
Germany; this method of sweeping answers extremely well when there is
not a great deal of dust to be removed, and is much in favour of keeping
the furniture clean.[2] If the carpet is made so that it can be turned
each time that it is laid down, then care should be taken that the same
part does not always lie before the door, so as to be worn out before
the rest, for a shabby piece of carpet, on entering a room, immediately
strikes the eye; but if the carpet is cut to fit into recesses, this
cannot be avoided. As soon as the carpet has been put down quite even
on the floor, and tightly stretched and nailed (which is generally done
by the man who has the charge of beating it), the housemaid, with a
clean coarse cloth, should rub down each breadth, taking care to turn
to different parts of the cloth as they get soiled. Many people approve
of rubbing it over in this way with a damp flannel, but the practice is
not a good one; it has the effect of brightening for the moment, but
gives it afterwards a duller and more soiled look; a greater degree of
dampness than that produced by the use of tea-leaves when brushing the
carpet is injurious. When a carpet is much soiled, by having been used
for years, it may be made to look perfectly clean, and even the colours
greatly restored again, by being washed with a mixture of boiled soap and
ox-gall, but in a very short time it will look worse than before; even if
clean cold water is spilt upon the carpet, though no stain is left at
first, that part will very soon have a soiled appearance.[3]

The room being now ready to receive the furniture, the chairs having been
previously dusted, washed over, and rubbed bright, as directed, and the
cushions taken off, switched, and wiped with a clean cloth, they should
be restored to their proper places in the room; the window-curtains
having been properly switched and brushed below, should be put up, the
fire-irons and coal-scuttle brought back, having been scoured, and
all the china ornaments, after being carefully washed in cold water,
should be arranged as before, together with books, writing-desks, and
work-boxes, and behold the room complete. The housemaid may now look
round with modest triumph, and exclaim, _Sublime_. A drawing-room in
perfect order, _how lovely is it!_

The dining-room, breakfast-parlour, and study, should each be cleaned
in the same perfect manner, but as the mode of proceeding is in no way
different, it is unnecessary here to enter into any further detail;
a few words, however, may be necessary with regard to arranging a
gentleman’s study; those days of thorough cleaning are days of horror
to the literary man; he would rather have a lion let loose upon him than
a cleanly housemaid; and certainly, with regard to dusting either books
or papers, too much attention cannot be shown, as much mischief may be
done by even shifting their places; books upon a table should be taken up
only one at a time, dusted, and replaced in exactly the same spot, or,
if the table requires to be rubbed up, the books should be placed on the
floor in the same position in which they stood on the table, then taken
up one by one, dusted and replaced on the table as at first. A housemaid
should never exercise her own taste in arranging books in a gentleman’s
study; however her contempt of 1st, 2nd, or 3rd volume may be overlooked
in a drawing-room, it is a serious annoyance to the literary man to be
obliged to hunt for the 2nd or 3rd volume of a work of which he has
finished the first, through, perhaps, fifty others; but it is a still
greater grievance to have a written paper misplaced, torn, or destroyed;
the smallest scrap of writing, though found on the floor, or in any odd
corner, should be considered sacred, and placed on the table in such a
position as to be easily discovered; a weight should be put on any parcel
of papers so as to prevent the draught blowing them away when the windows
are opened, and the housemaid had better be content with carefully
dusting round them rather than run the risk of misplacing them in any
way; let it be remembered, however, that this is perhaps the only case in
which it is better to dust round a moveable article than to dust under
it, for this dusting round is a slovenly practice too often indulged in.
A lazy servant will dust round a writing-desk or work-box, for a week
together, without once taking the trouble to remove it, till, when taken
up by some one, her negligence is discovered by the line of dust which
surrounds each article. Where books in a book-case require dusting, one
shelf only should be emptied at a time, and the books placed on the floor
(after the carpet has been lifted) in exactly the same order as they
stood in the book-case; the shelf should then be washed, and the books
taken up, one by one, dusted, and restored to their former places, as
soon as the shelf is thoroughly dry; care should be taken not to replace
them while the slightest dampness remains.

The rooms having been all cleaned, and the doors carefully shut, the
stairs must now be swept down, beginning from the attic story. The long
brush called the Turk’s head, should be used first, to sweep away the
cobwebs from the ceiling and corners, and to dust down the walls; the
bannisters must be brushed between all the rails with a bannister-brush,
and the hand-rail washed over and well rubbed up. The hand-rail should
always be polished with French polish that oil may not be required, as
almost every person who goes up stairs lays a hand upon the rail of
the bannisters, and it is difficult to rub the oil off sufficiently to
prevent its being unpleasant to the touch: wherever oil is used too great
care cannot be taken to rub it completely off.

A lady was heard to complain, that a set of books which had recently been
sent home, beautifully bound, were all found, soon after, to be spotted
with oil; on inquiry being made, it was discovered that the housemaid,
wishing to make everything look particularly bright in the drawing-room,
for expected company, had washed the table over with oil, and, after very
slight rubbing, had exercised her taste by putting all the best bound
books round in a circle upon it, with a bullfinch in its gilt cage in the
middle. This setting out of drawing-room tables with all the best-bound
books had better be avoided; a small stand of books on a table, or a
few scattered up and down, together with writing-desks and work-boxes,
give a look of freedom and comfort to a room which it is very agreeable
to see; but to find a table set out with a couple of books, splendidly
bound, at each corner, the bible and prayer-book, in velvet, with their
gold clasps, very probably opposite to a couple of volumes of Shakspeare
and Lord Byron, and sacred poetry at the alternate corners: to see these
books put out in January, 1850, to remain till January, 1851 (unless
the family should remove for a time into the country), is a melancholy
picture of the general literature of the inmates.

But to leave this literary discussion, and return again to the uncarpeted
staircase. The next thing to be done, after rubbing well the hand-rail,
is to wash down the stairs, and then, with a painter’s brush and
pipeclay, go over the sides of each step where the carpet does not cover
it: the pipeclay used for this purpose is generally mixed with glue,
or what painters call size; but this size is often not quite fresh,
which produces a bad air on the staircase; to boil the pipeclay with
equal parts of water and milk, or with water and beer, is a very good
substitute for size; it will rub off a little, but not nearly so easily
as when water alone is used in mixing it.

If there are any spots of grease on the stairs, before using the
pipeclay, scrape them off; then on each spot put a little of a mixture
of strong soap lees and unslaked lime, let it lie for a few minutes,
then rub hard and wash it off. A bottle of this mixture, well corked,
should be kept always at hand, to take spots of candle grease or oil,
either out of floors or stone passages; when used for floors it should
be washed more quickly off, or it may be necessary also to lower it with
cold water, as this mixture will discolour the boards if left on for any
time. The stairs being finished with the pipeclay, sheets of very coarse
brown paper should be laid down under each carpet, and each sheet turned
in, so as to make it lie double at the edge of each step; this prevents
the carpet wearing so fast as it is apt to do at the edges. Care also
should be taken that the same part of the carpet is not always brought to
the edge of the step, so as to cause that part to be worn shabby while
the rest looks fresh: a little arrangement in shifting, sometimes higher,
sometimes lower, will, in a great measure, prevent this. A stair-carpet
should be cut at least half-a-yard longer than required for covering
the stairs, and turned in at top and bottom, which will allow for this
shifting. Attention also is necessary to stretch the carpet as tight as
possible in laying it down, so that there should be no creases to be worn
by passing feet; and also to see that the rods, after being well scoured
with rotten stone and oil, and rubbed bright, should be so driven through
the rings as not to get loose. By attending to these particulars, a stair
carpet will look well as long again as when it is ill kept and neglected,
and allowed to lie so long without being taken up, as to wear a mark at
the edge of each step, which it is impossible afterwards to efface.

The floorcloth in the lobby should next be swept, then washed over
with soap and water, with a sponge or flannel (but never with a
scouring-brush, which some housemaids use), and rubbed up with a
dry cloth; a little bees’-wax may be rubbed in, which improves the
appearance, and also preserves the surface, but brisk light rubbing will
be particularly required when the wax is used, both to give it a bright
look, and to prevent the dust from sticking to it. Floorcloths should
not be much washed with soap, as it injures the paint. When not very
dirty, washing them first with cold water, and then with milk, will be
sufficient; the milk gives them a very pretty gloss, and they are more
easily rubbed up than when the bees’-wax is used.

As the steps from the outer door, the door itself, and all in the
under-story belongs in general to the cook’s work, the housemaid may now
be considered as having fulfilled her task, with regard to a thorough
cleaning. We proceed, now, to mention the routine of daily work she has
to go through in keeping all clean, and will also combine this with the
parlour work, which, in families where there is no footman, frequently
falls to the housemaid’s portion.

With early rising and active habits much may be done before breakfast,
and much should be done, or confusion will ensue for the rest of the day.
The housemaid’s work should be begun both in winter and summer by six
o’clock, for as in winter a good deal must be done by candle light, it
is less difficult to accustom oneself to awake always by a little after
five o’clock, than to leave off the habit in winter, and have to begin
it again; half an hour, or even a whole hour, of longer sleep will make
very little difference in the feeling of comfort at the moment, and will
greatly add to the difficulties of the day. As the sitting-rooms will
require to be done out thoroughly, each in turn once a week, this will
require three mornings from six o’clock, and even the time this will give
may not be sufficient; some things may have to be left undone, which a
considerate mistress will give the opportunity of being completed after
breakfast. In some houses where the cook has assistance, the dining-room
is under her care, this will give more time to the housemaid for the
drawing-rooms and study; but still as the stair carpet will require to
be brushed down oftener than once a week, and should always be done if
possible before breakfast, the necessity of early rising at all seasons
is very apparent.

The housemaid, before leaving her room in the morning, should throw
open the window, draw off the bed-clothes and hang them over a couple
of chairs, at the foot of the bed, and then carefully shut the door
on leaving the room. Wherever there is a window to open to air the
bed-room, the door should never be left open, as nothing is so untidy as
for any one passing by to see the beds unmade, and the washhand-stand
in disorder. She should next go round the lower rooms and drawing-rooms
to unclose the shutters, and open the windows, that all may be properly
aired; let her then proceed to prepare the sitting-room, which will be
first wanted, and in which the family are to breakfast. The grate is
the first thing to be attended to, as it is a general rule that what
is to make most dust in cleaning a room should be done first. Begin by
folding up the rug, and carrying it into the court below to be shaken,
then spread a covering sheet before the fire-place. If it is the season
when no fire is required, all that is necessary is to dust out the grate
and sweep the hearth, giving the shavings a shake from dust—if there are
shavings in the grate, or if white paper is beyond the bars removing
it if necessary, she should then rub the bars and sides of the grate
briskly with a soft cloth, which should be previously held before a fire
to remove the possibility of any dampness, for the slightest damp will
cause polished steel to rust. But in winter the grate will require much
more labour: having carefully spread the covering sheet, let her place
upon it the coal-scuttle and wood for kindling the fire, also her box,
which should be well stocked with the following articles. Emery paste for
polished steel, and black lead for grates which are not polished; soft
brushes for putting on the emery paste and lead, blacking and polishing
brushes, emery-cloth, now used for cleaning the bars in preference to
emery paper, and a soft leather for giving the last polish. It is only
now and then that the sides of a grate which is brightly polished will
require to be cleaned with emery paste, and then rubbed up, first with a
soft cloth, and then with leather; but every day the sides of the grate
will require to be rubbed with a soft cloth, which has been previously
heated, and the bars rubbed with emery-cloth, the dust and ashes having
been taken away in the dust-pan before this is done, and the sides of
the vent and the back swept down very gently, that the soot may not
fly out into the room, with a brush kept for the purpose. Much smoke
and discomfort may be avoided by the housemaid regularly, once a week,
when the room is thoroughly done out, sweeping the soot from the vent,
as high as the arm can reach; it is not possible to get a brush with
a very long handle up the vent, but in the bed-room story, where the
vents are shorter, the top almost may be reached by putting up first a
short hearth brush, then tying it to a longer handle, and to another and
another, as you raise it in the vent. It may appear almost unnecessary
to describe how it is to be got down again, but to prevent all distress
of mind to the young and inexperienced, it may be mentioned that it is
to be untied at the different joints as it is lowered again, and also
that when this operation is to be performed, which will be necessary
only once, or perhaps twice, during the winter, a fellow servant should
assist by holding a sheet before the vent to prevent the soot getting
out into the room. Great care must be taken, that after the brush has
been raised high in the vent, it be not flourished about in a triumphant
manner, but used with the greatest gentleness in removing the soot. As
soon as all has been cleared away, carried down stairs, and the grate
rubbed up and cleaned, proceed to lay the fire and to light it. If the
fire is properly laid, one half of the wood generally used would suffice;
a clever housemaid has been known to light even the drawing-room fire
(which requires more wood than the bed-rooms), with seven pieces of wood;
this however requires the skilful hand of what would be called, in the
language of the day, a _talented_ housemaid; with moderate abilities,
however, she maybe taught to light four fires with one bundle of wood,
but even this will require attention and the exercise of common sense. If
part of the ashes are left in a slovenly way in the bottom of the grate,
so as to prevent the air from passing up, the wood thrust in without
arrangement, a mass of cinders put on the top, and the window and door
kept carefully shut, what is to be expected but that, as soon as the
paper below the wood is lighted, the room should fill with smoke, and
the fire go out before even the wood is burned away? The chief art in
lighting a fire is to arrange it so that a stream of flame is carried up
amongst the small coals, till they are so warmed and kindled as to burn
of themselves: to effect this, the ashes and cinders should be entirely
cleared out from the grate; then, having put a piece of paper, crushed
together, in the bottom, and a few small pieces of the half-burned coal
quite at the back, lay the wood above the paper so as to rest on those
pieces of coal and on the front bar, taking care that they do not come
out beyond the bar; lay some of the pieces of wood across the others,
and, having formed this support for the coals, pile very small pieces,
not larger than a nut, and very loosely, upon the wood, so as to leave
room for the flame to pass up between them: the grate having been cleaned
from the ashes, the air which comes in from the bottom will feed the
flame, and drive it up through the spaces amongst the small coals, which,
lying loosely together, will soon take a red heat; a sprinkling of the
smallest coal should be added, as it flames easily, and is of assistance
to the wood.

It is a very general practice with housemaids to pile cinders on the top
of the wood, and then throw a quantity of small coal above them, the
consequence of which is, that the air, not passing through to carry up
the flame, the wood is burned away before the coals are lighted, and the
smoke, not being able to penetrate this cake of coal, puffs out through
the front bars of the grate, instead of going up the chimney, and soon
fills the room, and (as the door is very generally left open, and the
window kept shut), we may add the house also; for a careless servant,
instead of waiting a few minutes to see how the fire is disposed
to kindle, often leaves the room the moment she has set fire to the
paper in the grate, and, having returned to the under story before the
smoke begins, it is frequently first discovered by having reached the
drawing-room, and, on examination, the bed-room is found to be in such a
state from impenetrable smoke, that it is difficult to find one’s way to
the window to throw open the sash. The paper on the walls, the curtains,
and everything in the room, will receive more injury by being even once
thoroughly smoked in this way than by six months of careful use. Care
also should be taken that the register is opened before lighting a
fire; in rooms where there is not fire during the day the register is
generally shut, to prevent the back smoke getting down into the room,
and the first thing a careful servant should do is to open the register
before lighting the fire. Some chimneys vent better when the register is
only half screwed back, so as to open only half the vent; some require
to be entirely opened. A little attention will soon make the housemaid
acquainted with the degree of draught which is necessary to carry up the
smoke freely, and in most cases it will be found necessary to shut the
door and open the window before lighting the fire; it is not the proper
time to open the window after she has set light to the fire, for the
chimney, being the only part in the room open to the air, the draught
comes down the chimney, and brings out with it into the room the smoke of
the new-made fire, so that before she has time to get to the window to
open it the room is already half filled with smoke; she should therefore
open the window first, which will make the proper draught for carrying up
the smoke, and then set light to the fire.

There are very few chimneys that will not vent well if care is taken
to make a proper draught, and not to choke the fire up with too much
coal; very little should be put on at first, and more added as the fire
burns up. The general practice of putting the cinders next the wood,
is not favourable to lighting the fire quickly, or, with little wood;
a few cinders may be thrown at the back of the fire, and the rest had
better be carried down into the kitchen to be burned there, as small
sharp-pointed pieces of fresh coal kindle much more easily than cinders.
It is astonishing what a difference there will be, even in a very short
time, in the appearance of a room where there is carelessness in lighting
the fire; the curtains, the books, everything in the room, gets a soiled
appearance, and is unpleasant to the touch. Can there be anything more
disagreeable than to find one’s bed-room, at night, cold as a cellar,
from the necessity of keeping the window open to the last minute to
dispel the smoke which inattention at first has produced, and the smell
of which still adheres to every article, instead of finding a warm room,
a comfortable arm-chair turned towards a bright fire, a shining kettle
singing a quiet tune, and a clean-swept hearth? Some housemaids have a
habit of constantly turning the arm-chair away from the fire, and placing
it against the wall, and though, morning after morning, they find it
has been turned towards the fire, yet they never take the hint, unless
an express order is given; and even then, such is the force of careless
habits, that it is often not attended to, and they continue so long
steadily turning the chair from the fire, that it appears as if they had
made a secret vow against both warmth and comfort: an attentive servant,
on the contrary, will make use of her own common sense, and will not
always wait to be told. If the chair has been turned from the wall to the
fire, she will continue to place it there; if more than once she finds
the bed-quilt taken off and thrown aside, she will understand that it is
found too heavy to be an agreeable covering, and will in future fold it
off and leave only the light covering sheet on the bed; if a blanket
is pushed down, then let her not carry it away altogether, as there may
come a sudden change to cold, and much discomfort may be experienced,
but let her leave it tucked in at the bottom of the bed, with the rest
of the bed-clothes, and folded down in folds, leaving the end uppermost,
so that in a moment the blanket can be drawn up again over the bed: it
is vexatious when feeling chilly and half asleep, to find that the end
of the blanket has been carefully folded in, and that one must be colder
still, and broad awake, before there is a chance of finding it. Such
observations may be thought trifling and too minute, but the neglect of
many such trifles occasions much discomfort, particularly to those who
may be only occasional guests in a family; they may be days in the house
without seeing the housemaid to explain their wishes, and even if they
have the opportunity, they feel a delicacy in giving orders as to how
their fire should be lighted, or their bed-room comfortably arranged, yet
much silent annoyance, particularly to the invalid, has been occasioned
by a careless housemaid.

A few words may be added here as to carrying fire from room to room in an
open pan, and also on leaving the poker in the fire with a view to make
it burn up more quickly; both practices are attended with danger; sparks
may be blown about by the current of air through which the bearer passes
in carrying fire from room to room, and houses have been burned down,
and lives lost, by this practice. Leaving the poker in the fire is also
attended with much danger, for as the coals which kept it firm at first,
burn away, the poker gets loose and falls out, burning the rug through
to the floor, and, if not discovered in time, setting fire to the floor

To return, however, to the drawing-room again, after this somewhat long
digression. The grate having been cleaned, and the fire lighted, the
carpet should now be swept; this does not require to be done every day,
except round the table where the family may have been working, and at the
door, or in any other corners of the room most in use; and this may be
done with a soft hand-brush, making use of the dust-pan to carry away the
dust, or any shreds of paper, as you sweep. Using a carpet-brush every
day wears the carpet. Every article in the room should now be dusted, the
ledges round the walls, the window-frames, the mantelpiece, the backs
of the sofas and chairs, shaking the dust, from time to time, over the
window while doing it; also the writing-desks, work-boxes, and books, on
the different tables, should each be taken up and dusted separately;
a duster is preferable to a dusting-brush for all this, as it removes
the dust from the article entirely, instead of only scattering it to
alight somewhere else; but for the gilt frames of mirrors or pictures,
a soft feather-brush should be used. The covers of the sofas and chairs
should next be stretched free from creases, and wiped with a perfectly
clean duster, not that which has been in use for dusting the furniture.
A little management is required in this, as in all other well-regulated
arrangements: the duster used for wiping the chair-covers the one day
should be laid aside, and kept for dusting the furniture on the next,
so that each day a clean duster is made use of for the cushions of the
chairs and sofas; from this not being attended to, they are often more
_dirtied_ in being _cleaned_ than if they had been left with the dust
upon them; with careful management the drawing-room chintz will look long
well, even in London. The chair-covers should be stretched very tight
over the cushions; if put on loosely they will get into creases, and look
soiled in half the time; the cushions on the sofas should also be well
shaken up. Care also should be taken in arranging neatly the articles on
the different tables; if books are left scattered about, arrange them on
the table, putting two or three together, above each other, but do not
put a large book above a smaller one; arrange them according to sizes,
the largest first. A small basket should be kept on one of the tables,
into which should be put any small articles found lying about, such as
scissors, thimbles, odd gloves, &c., &c.; and before leaving the room
give a glance round to see that everything is in perfect order, and draw
down the blinds, and shut the door; but in summer leave a little bit
of the window open, to keep the room well aired, or if there is wind
and dust flying about, keep the window shut and air the room by leaving
the door open. If there are cut flowers in the room change the water
in which they are frequently, and pick out any withered ones: withered
flowers, which have remained long in the same water, not only give a very
untidy look to the room, but also produce a very disagreeable air. Too
great attention cannot be given to keep the whole house well aired, by
frequently opening the windows, both in the rooms and staircase. Some
housemaids have a horror of opening the windows, for fear of admitting
the dust, but the dust is not always flying about. Opportunities can be
seized, for instance, in a quiet summer evening, when the family are
walking out; all the windows and doors of the different rooms should be
thrown open for some time, and the house receive a thorough airing;
and besides this, each room should be aired at some part of each day by
leaving the window open.

The daily routine of the drawing-room work has thus been mentioned, but
once a-week more will be required, as the carpet, once a-week, should
be thoroughly swept with tea-leaves, and the hearth-rug carried down
to the court and well beaten. As soon as the rug has been removed, the
grate cleaned and rubbed up, the mantelpiece washed with a sponge and
soap and water, and the fire laid, shake the window-curtains, roll them
up to the top, and pin them, throw covering-sheets over the sofas and
chiffonnieres, remove the chairs to the next room or landing-place, and
having sprinkled the carpet over with damp tea-leaves, brush every corner
carefully, shifting the sofas and tables, so as to get at every particle
of dust that may have gathered under them, and leaving no remote corner
untouched in the hope that the eye of the mistress may not penetrate so
far. The carpet being swept, carry away the tea-leaves in the dust-pan,
either to be thrown out, or, if there is a scarcity, to be put through
water, and used a second time in sweeping the floors. The mirrors and
picture-frames should be lightly dusted with the feather brush, the
mirrors wiped, the furniture, before being carried back to the room,
should be dusted and rubbed up in the manner already mentioned, the
articles on the different tables dusted and arranged, the inside of the
windows wiped, and the china ornaments carefully dusted.[4] All this will
require so much time that, even with early rising, it may be necessary to
leave some part of the dusting-work to be done after breakfast, as the
hour for putting the heater for the tea-urn into the hottest part of the
kitchen fire, and taking the breakfast-cloth from the napkin-press will
have arrived, and preparations must immediately be made for breakfast.

Before laying the cloth let the housemaid wash her hands, and put on
a clean white apron, then, having dusted the table and spread the
table-cloth quite smooth upon it, taking care that the fold which
marks the middle of the table-cloth should be exactly in the centre of
the table, let her bring, on a large tray, the things necessary for
breakfast,—the teapot, slop-basin, cups and saucers, plates, knives,
silver forks, and tea-spoons, and having arranged them on the table, let
the tray be taken down stairs again for the cream, butter, eggs, rolls,
and bread; let the butter-dish be filled with the freshest spring-water
in summer, the colder the better, and in winter a few drops of warm water
should be added, not much, or it will oil the butter, but enough to give
the water summer warmth. In arranging all this on the table, attention
should be given that all that is necessary has been brought into the
room; that each person has, besides his cup and saucer, a plate, knife,
and fork; that there is a large knife for cutting bread, a butter-knife,
and a spoon for each egg-cup, the salt-cellars filled with salt, and a
couple of small breakfast-knives and of tea-spoons laid upon the table,
which last articles may at first appear to be the property of no one,
but which are generally of essential service, in making it unnecessary
for the servant to be rung for during breakfast; it is a rare thing when
more knives and spoons are not called for before breakfast is over, and
yet the difficulty of getting a servant to attend to this simple order is
very great; and if it should chance that on any one morning the spoons
or knives have not been made use of, they are sure to be omitted the
next. It is the same, often, with regard to the toast at breakfast or
tea; if all is not consumed on any one particular day there is less sent
up on the next, and often a gradual diminution takes place daily, till
the toast-rack presents itself with one solitary piece, which no one has
courage to touch. These are the tricks of lazy servants, who, to save a
few moments of trouble, bring much discredit upon themselves.

If a friend steps in at breakfast or tea, the maid, after having
announced him, should not leave the room till she has put a seat for
the guest, and should immediately return with a cup and saucer, plate,
and small knife, and not wait till the mistress of the family has had
to desire the bell to be rung to order these things. Should it be while
dinner is going on that a guest is announced, then the soup, meat
and vegetables should quickly be brought back if still warm, if not,
immediately warmed up, and replaced on the table. The maid-servant should
exercise her own judgment in all this, and not wait for orders, which may
make the visitor feel that he is giving trouble; common sense should tell
her that, if a guest comes at that hour he expects to dine, and that a
warm dinner is better than a cold one.

To return to the morning work, breakfast having been served, the
bed-rooms must now be attended to; the first thing is to open the
window in each room, and to strip the bed, which is done by placing
two chairs at the foot, hanging the bed-clothes over them, and raising
up the mattress (which is generally on the top of the feather-bed) in
an arch, so that the air can pass through between; having done this in
each room in succession, proceed to empty the slops in each, rinsing out
the basins, bottles, and ewers, with plenty of cold water, that fresh
water may be put into the bottles and ewers each day, and carefully wipe
the soap-box, tooth-brush-tray, &c.; the pail should never be left a
moment in the room after this is done, but carried down into the court
to be instantly emptied, well rinsed out with water and left in the
air; two pitchers of water should next be carried up, the one with soft
water for the ewers, and the other with spring-water for the bottles;
but if it is sweeping-day when the room is to be completely done out, a
wooden pail should be brought up with warm water, and all the chamber
utensils carefully washed with soap and a sponge before the ewers are
filled with fresh water, the bed in each room should next be made up,
and a fellow-servant is required to assist in this. Few things are more
unpleasant than an ill-made bed; it is generally the first thing which
strikes guests on being shown their bed-rooms; if the bed looks as if it
had been well shaken up, perfectly smooth, and the counterpane nicely
put on, folding neatly over at the corners, pleasant anticipations of
the night present themselves, and a good opinion of the housemaid is
immediately formed; a well-made bed gives promise that other things
will also be well attended to; it is, in fact, one of the tests of a
well-trained housemaid. In making up the bed, the mattresses should be
turned every day, and if there is a feather-bed, it should be turned,
shaken up, and beaten, that the feathers may not get into lumps, then
smoothed and made perfectly flat, the feathers being spread equally
over the whole surface, before the mattress is laid on the top. Some
housemaids have a way of shaking the feathers into the middle of the bed,
leaving the sides in such a sloping condition, that there is some chance
of passing part of the night on the floor, others of shaking the feathers
to the top of the bed, forming an inclined plane, so that the constant
feeling of sliding down lower and lower leaves people very uncertain as
to where they are to find themselves at last. It is impossible to make
a bed too flat or smooth, the bolster and pillows being well shaken up
also; the binding blanket should next be spread, and tucked in, and in
putting on the under sheet, care must be taken to put it on as tightly as
possible, so that not a crease should be seen, and the sheet should be
tucked under the lowest mattress, so as to cover the whole bedding; it
is very untidy to see the sheet tucked in under the upper mattress and
feather-bed, as is frequently the case, leaving the rest of the bedding
uncovered, besides exposing it to dust and smoke (the counterpane not
being sufficient protection); the blankets being spread, should be tucked
in during the day, but at night, if broad enough, should be allowed to
fall over at each side, and only tucked in at the foot of the bed. The
top sheet is next to be put on, and lastly the counterpane, which last
in the evening should be taken off, and folded up, leaving the top sheet
only during the night, the curtains, being put neatly into folds, should
be turned in on the counterpane at each side of the top and foot of the
bed, and if it is the day for the room being thoroughly cleaned, the
valences should be turned up all round, and the whole covered up with
a large dusting sheet: the washhand-stand should also be covered, the
grate having been cleared out, rubbed up, and the fire laid as already
directed. If there is room on the landing-place, the chairs should be
rubbed up and removed before the sweeping begins; if there is not, let
them be collected in the middle of the room, moved up when the top of the
room is swept, and rubbed up and dusted afterwards. The carpet being all
strewed over with tea-leaves and brushed—a sweeping-broom, with a wet
cloth wrapped round it, should be put in under the bed, and gently moved
about, so as to collect the dust which gathers there, without raising it
so as to settle in the bed, and the same should be done under the chest
of drawers, or any other piece of furniture too heavy to be moved. The
sweeping being over, and the dust-pan, with the dust and tea-leaves,
carried away, that the draught when the windows are opened may not blow
the dust about again, the wardrobe, chest of drawers, looking-glass, &c.,
&c., should then be rubbed up, the window-frames, the chimney-piece, the
pannels of the door, and everything in the room carefully dusted, and the
chairs brought back to their proper places; the housemaid goes to another
room to commence the same work there, leaving the bed and washhand-stand
covered for a little while, till the dust which is flying in the air will
have settled. As soon as this is the case, she has only to remove the
covering sheets, to fill the bottles and ewers with fresh water, to place
the looking-glass in a safe situation, that it may not be blown over by
the window being open, and carefully to shut the door, that no dust may
fly in from the other rooms; if it is summer and the blinds are let down
to keep the room cool, care must be taken not to leave the blind loose,
so as to blow about at the risk of breaking the window or looking-glass;
the blinds should be only half drawn down, or if more is necessary, the
window may be left only a little open.

The brushing the carpet, and removing and rubbing the furniture, are
not in general required to be done more than once a week; but as every
day cleaning the grate, making the bed, wiping everything on the
washhand-stand, and dusting everything in the room, are necessary, most
of this work will have to be done in the early part of the forenoon, for
probably before one chamber even is finished, the housemaid will be rung
for to take away the breakfast-things. The urn is the first thing to be
removed, then the plates, put one above another, the cups and saucers,
knives, forks, and every other article collected together with the least
possible noise, should be carried away on a large tray, taking care not
to put more on at one time than it can safely hold, for it is painful
to see the way in which some servants load the breakfast-tray so as to
clear the table of everything at once, decidedly indicating that they
would rather risk the whole being broken, than have the trouble of
returning to the room a second time. On removing the cloth, any crumbs
which may have fallen on the carpet, should be swept into the dust-pan
with a small brush, kept in a corner of the room for that purpose; the
carpet should never on any account be touched with the hearth-brush; a
most slovenly practice, and all from a miserable saving of trouble, for
if no second brush be kept in the room for this purpose, the time which
it will take the housemaid to fetch her own carpet-brush, will be short
compared to that which she must bestow on brushing the carpet again and
again with tea-leaves, to get rid of the dust and soil which it has
contracted during a week of improper management. It is not cleaning a
room once a week, and giving to it little time and trouble, that will
give it a clean, fresh appearance; it is attention in doing a little
daily, and in doing that little in a proper manner. A carpet had better
not be brushed at all, than touched with a dirty brush, and the chintz
covers are less injured even by the dust lying upon them, than by having
it rubbed off with a soiled duster, which may have been used the moment
before in rubbing the furniture, or in wiping the fire-irons. The crumbs
having been swept away, fresh coal should be put on the fire, and the
hearth-brush used in sweeping in the hearth before the maid leaves the

Having shaken the breakfast cloth, folded it in exactly the same folds as
it had at first, and put it into the napkin press, she will next proceed
to have her own breakfast, and that being finished, she will put away the
tea-leaves into a jar kept for that purpose, and having put aside the
bread, butter, milk, &c., which may remain, into their proper places,
she will carefully wash the plates, cups, saucers, &c., &c., in a large
wooden bowl, and with warm water—the vessel for washing either china or
crystal should always be of wood, as it is much less liable to chip the
articles, and the water used should be warm, but by no means at boiling
heat, or accidents are sure to happen, particularly in winter, when there
is frost in the air, as glass or china are then more easily cracked: many
a beautiful crystal butter-dish has been cracked by being hastily plunged
into hot water, and even a far less degree of heat will crack either
crystal or china, if warm water is poured upon it, while standing on any
cold surface. The warm water is required for the butter-dish; crystal in
general should always be washed in cold water, as glass is made to look
much clearer by being washed in cold water. So if any glasses have been
used the night before, let them now be washed in cold water, and well
rubbed up with a glass cloth, till they look quite clear. The tea-spoons,
cups, saucers, and milk-jug, come next to be washed in warm water, and
lastly, the silver forks, plates, and butter-dish; by this arrangement
the articles not greasy will not be dimmed by those that are; the knives
should be put aside in a knife-box, to be taken away by the person who
is to clean them, and the tray, after being washed over, and well rubbed
up, should be placed in the butler’s pantry, with its face to the wall,
and each tea-cup hung up on a nail, with the saucers ranged below on
shelves for the purpose; every article should be put in its place, that
all may be out of the way of breakage, and ready when again wanted; it
is scarcely necessary to add that the linen cloths, used for drying the
cups, glasses, &c., should be perfectly clean.

The work still to be done above stairs should next be attended to and
completed, and the chamber candlesticks brought down to be cleaned, and
the lamps for the sitting rooms to be trimmed and filled with fresh
oil: this should be done in a tidy manner, the drawer for the ends of
candles should be lined with coarse brown paper, which will require
to be frequently changed, and a large sheet of brown paper spread on
a small table for the lamps and candlesticks to stand upon. It is a
dirty practice to clean the candlesticks on the kitchen dresser (as is
sometimes done), for even if the paper be spread beneath them, particles
of tallow may be left on the dresser, which are not perceived, and may be
mixed with the food preparing for dinner; it is also an exceedingly bad
practice to place the candlesticks on the upper bar of the kitchen-grate
to melt the tallow; a most disagreeable smell is raised in the house
by the tallow dropping into the fire, and the japan of the candlestick
is often injured by the heat. The knife kept for scraping the candles
should be wiped with a bit of paper each time it is used, and put back
instantly into the candle-drawer, and the oil-can also wiped. Great
care should be taken in cleaning the lamp: if all the passages are not
quite clear, so that the air can pass through, it cannot burn well.
There is now a small instrument sold with the lamps which is of great
assistance in freeing them from the coagulated oil and dust, and renders
the necessity of washing them less frequent; when they do require to be
washed, it must be done with boiling water and soda mixed in it, then
all the parts rinsed quite clean in a second water, also very hot, and
the lamp put down before the fire for some hours before it is filled
with oil, so that all the parts inside may be perfectly dry; if there
is the least remains of the soda or of water in the lamp, it will burn
dim. Attention also is required in filling it quite full; a lamp often,
after some hours, begins to burn quite dim for want of sufficient oil,
yet the servant declares it cannot be for this reason, as she filled it
completely. An air-bubble often rises in pouring in the oil, which gives
the appearance of its being full, and deceives them—they must wait for a
moment till this subsides, and then continue gently to pour in the oil
till it is quite full. It is not necessary to pour out any oil which may
remain from the night before; it is only required to fill it up; and if
in winter, the lamp should be put down near a fire for some time before
it is brought into the room, as the oil congeals in cold weather, which
also prevents its burning bright. Pay particular attention in cutting
the wick quite smooth all round with a pair of lamp-scissors: if it is
ragged or cut uneven, the light is flickering and uncertain—the wick
should be very little raised when the lamp is first lighted, and turned
higher up a few minutes after, and by slow degrees; if it is raised
high at first, besides the risk of cracking not only the chimney of the
lamp, but the shade itself by a sudden flame; it never burns so bright
again when turned down, as when slowly raised to the proper height. The
chimney should each day be cleaned and made bright as a mirror—if smoked
or dirty, the light can never be clear; the shade should be washed once a
week with soap and water, and during the day it is well to have the lamp
covered over with a paper cap, or a towel put over it, as the dust flying
into the works makes it difficult to clean. It is not easy to convince
servants that attending to those little things which they may think
trifles, saves a great deal of time in the end. If much dust is allowed
to fly in from day to day, washing with soda and boiling water will not
be sufficient, the works of the lamp will require to be boiled before it
can be made perfectly clean.

When candles are required in the sitting-rooms, in addition to the lamp,
let the candlesticks be properly cleaned, and fresh candles set in them,
and the shorter pieces made use of for the bed-rooms; where wax-candles
are not used, see that the snuffers for the different candlesticks are
completely emptied and carefully wiped, and that there is a pair of
snuffers for each bed-room candlestick, as well as for each sitting-room.
The lights being thus prepared for night, and the work in the different
rooms finished, if it is not sweeping-day, the housemaid will still
have some time for needlework before laying the cloth for dinner. Before
sitting down to work, she will of course wash her face and hands, change
her working-dress for a gown with long sleeves, a white apron instead of
a coloured one, and a tidy modest-looking bobbin-net cap, coming close to
the face, and tied with a ribbon of some quiet colour; nothing is more
unbecoming in her station, than a flying out cap hanging on the back of
the head, with gaudy soiled ribbons streaming down in all directions. The
style of dress adopted by servants of late years is much to be regretted;
it is a loss of their money, of their time, and above all, of their
respectability; a maid-servant can never be too scrupulously clean and
quiet in her dress.

A few more observations on this subject may be added in another place.
In sitting down to work, she will take care to be within hearing of
the drawing-room bell, and the knocker of the street door. By proper
regulation there will always be some part of each day for needlework,
and in the country, where less sweeping and dusting is required, a
great deal may be done in this way. It is a pleasant sight to see a
young girl neatly and quietly dressed, busily plying her needle, her
tidy work-basket beside her well stocked with cotton-reels, rolls of
worsted, tapes, needles, pins, scissors, and thimble. It will probably
be her business to mend the bed and table-linen, to watch over the state
of the carpets, table-covers, &c., and repair them when necessary; a
slit or tear in the carpet, even of an attic, is sure to give a bad
impression of the housemaid. The bed-linen should be carefully looked
over each time before going to the wash, and the slightest fracture or
slit repaired; and instead of allowing the middle of the sheet to wear
into holes, while the sides are quite good, as soon as the sheet begins
to wear, the breadths should be unripped, and the sides turned into the
middle and joined again. Care should also be taken that the buttons or
strings for each pillow-slip are complete; it is most desirable that the
housemaid should be a good darner of table-cloths, and also of stockings,
for where there is no ladies’-maid the darning of the ladies’ stockings
will be part of her work; and even where there is, the charge of the
gentleman’s stockings generally falls to her care; but anxiety to get
on with her work must not lead her to forget when the time for laying
the cloth for dinner shall have arrived. Having previously rung a bell
precisely half-an-hour before dinner, as a signal for the family to
dress, which bell should be punctual as the clock itself, and having at
the same time added fresh coal to the fire, swept the hearth, and placed
the plate-warmer before the fire, she should enter the dining-room to lay
the cloth a quarter of an hour before the dinner-hour strikes. To enable
her to be ready in this time, however, all must have been prepared before
sitting down to work; the clean knives and forks put into the tray,
the mustard and vinegar replenished, the tops of the cruets carefully
wiped, and the salt-cellars filled. To avoid as much as possible having
to open and shut the door often when laying the cloth, collect as many
of the articles necessary as you can bring in at one time in a large
tray, glasses, tumblers, spoons, knife-tray, bread-basket, and beer and
water jugs. All being prepared, see that the stand for placing your
tray in while you bring in the glasses, &c., is placed in a convenient
corner of the room, and that the basket for carrying the plates and the
trays for the knives and forks which have been used, are placed near the
sideboard, but not in the way to prevent passing easily. Having brought
everything into the room which is necessary, shut the door, and having
laid the cloth perfectly straight on the table, place a plate for each
person, with a napkin neatly folded upon it, and on the right side of
the plate, place a knife and spoon, and on the left a silver fork. The
soup-plates should be placed before the person who is to help the soup,
and a carving-knife and fork, and a gravy-spoon, put at the top and
bottom of the table. Place a salt-cellar at each corner of the table,
lay a couple of spoons on each side of it, and a crystal caraffe filled
with clear spring-water; see that those caraffes, and the tumblers and
glasses (which should be placed all round the table for each person) are
perfectly clear and bright: a clean glass-cloth should be brought into
the room to wipe off any dimness which a finger may have caused. When
the different articles on the table are perfectly bright-looking, and
the dishes neatly sent up, the plainest dinner has a look of comfort,
and even elegance about it. A knife, fork, or spoon, which has not been
properly cleaned, cannot be taken into the hand without being discovered,
and leaving a disagreeable impression; a visitor may not have the courage
to send it away, but the comfort of his dinner is destroyed. Having cut
some slices of bread rather thick, cut each slice into four, and with
a fork, put a piece all round for each person, leaving the loaf in the
room in case more may be required; when more is called for, hand some
additional pieces in the bread-basket. Place a chair for each person.

The sideboard should next be laid out with a supply of knives, silver
forks, spoons, tumblers, glasses, and silver-waiters. As considerable
taste may be shown in the arrangement of those articles, it may be well
to take a lesson of laying out a sideboard from the first butler, or
experienced man-servant, who may chance to be in waiting on any of the
dinner-guests at your master’s table. All should be done without noise
or bustle, and with a quick hand and light foot; jingling the glasses,
making a clashing noise in lifting the knives, knocking the chairs
against the legs of the table, and moving about with a heavy foot, (and
often with the addition of creaking shoes,) are extremely disagreeable
to whoever may be in the room at the moment, and even should no one be
present, the servant should accustom herself to do all these with the
least possible noise, that the habit of doing things quietly may be
acquired; activity is a first-rate quality in a waiter at table, but then
it must be quiet activity.

All being prepared, the first dish should be placed on the table as the
appointed hour strikes; the cook having brought the dishes as far as the
dining-room door, carry in the top and bottom dishes separately, as they
are generally large; the side dishes may be brought in at once on the
dinner tray, which being placed upon the stand, the dishes can easily
be removed to the table. All being neatly arranged, the top and bottom
dishes exactly opposite to each other, and the side dishes perfectly
straight, and at equal distances from the top and bottom, announce to the
family in the drawing-room, that the dinner is on the table. Standing
back while they pass through the door, which you have thrown open for
them, and having followed the last member of the family down stairs,
remain standing behind the chair of your master till grace is said, then
remove the covers unless there is soup, in which case the covers should
remain on the other dishes while the soup is being served; be careful
to go to the left hand of the persons you are serving, when placing any
thing before them, or handing them anything; those to be first served
are any lady visitors who may be present, the elder ladies first, then
the younger, the lady of the house and her daughters, and lastly the
gentlemen. In handing round the soup-plates, remove the flat plates put
at first on the table; and in the first leisure moment place them on
the plate-warmer before the fire; let each soup-plate be taken away the
moment it is empty, having another warm plate in your hand to replace it.
The covers on the other dishes should now be removed. In handing round
the soup-plates at first, be careful not to spill the soup by placing
them hastily before any one; and in changing them for others, make no
clatter of plates; attend in going round the table, not to push against
any chair, or touch any one as you pass, and take particular care that
no one’s dress should be injured by spilling gravy or melted butter upon
it; in handing the sauce-boats, lower them as near as you can to the left
side of the plate, the person requiring sauce can then help himself with
the right hand, without any danger of spilling it. If there are any side
dishes of meat, such as cutlets, patties, &c., they should be handed
round first, while the joint is being carved. The spoons on each side of
the salt cellars now come into use in helping the side dishes. Beware
of offering a side dish to any one till you have first placed a spoon
in it. As soon as each person has been helped to meat, carry round the
vegetable-dishes, then offer melted-butter, pickles, &c., &c., as may be
required. Have your eye constantly on the table, taking in by a glance
all that is necessary for you to do. Those that have been eating cutlets,
will require their plates to be changed before being helped to the joint;
and those that have commenced with the joint, will now be ready to be
helped a second time, and to have another plate given for the second
helping. When waiting at table there should be no gazing out of the
windows, or amusing one’s self with one’s own thoughts; neither should
the conversation going on at table be attended to: this is difficult, but
if one accustoms one’s self from the first to watch the numerous wants
of the party, and not their words, there will be sufficient employment
fully to engross the servant. Vegetables will require to be taken round
a second time, and more bread to one, and beer or water to another; in
short, there is scarcely a moment in which there will not be something
required, and if the servant is attentive and quick-sighted, she will not
find that she is standing idle at one moment, and that in the next more
of the party will require to be served than she can attend to; if there
is a leisure moment, she can employ herself by stirring the fire (if in
winter), and if this is not necessary, let her remain in quiet readiness,
with her eye upon the table, and her ear open to the first request for
her services. As each finishes with the first course, let her place a
plate of smaller size generally used for tart or pudding before him, with
a silver fork and spoon: in some families the spoon is not approved of,
it is thought that even custard should be eaten with a silver fork; but
the practice (or rather the attempt) is more refined than agreeable or
convenient. As soon as the last person has finished eating, ring the
bell for the tart and pudding; and having gone round the table with a
knife-tray, in which you should put the carving knife and fork and gravy
spoons from the different dishes, carry away all that is on the table,
and bring in the tart and pudding. As soon as each person has finished
with the second course, place a cheese-plate and small knife before
them, and when the tart and pudding have been carried out into the hall
(having rung for the cook to carry them down into the kitchen), clear the
table-cloth with a spoon of the broken pieces of bread, before setting
down the cheese. Have fresh pieces of bread cut in the bread-basket to
be handed to each person the moment they have been helped to cheese.
Stand behind your master’s chair while he is cutting the cheese, that you
may be ready to carry it instantly round: a good waiter will manage to
offer the bread immediately after the cheese, or even at the same moment;
but this is too little attended to; bread has often to be cut after it
is called for, and sometimes there is no bread in the room, and before
more can be brought in, the cheese has been eaten alone, and the waiter
considered a very intolerable person. The cheese being carried away,
any pieces of bread remaining should be removed with a silver fork,
the table-cloth folded over at each side, doubled up, and taken out of
the room; the table wiped with a nice cloth, and the wine decanters set
before the master of the house—having previously, before removing them
from the sideboard, wiped them gently with a glass cloth, without shaking
the wine. Put a couple of wine glasses to each person—they are generally
of two sizes; the dessert-plates should next be set round to each person
with a napkin neatly folded upon the plate, with a finger-glass half
filled with water, and a small dessert knife and fork upon it. In winter,
bring a jug of warm water into the room, and pour a little into each
finger-glass, before placing it on the table. Let the fruit be neatly
arranged in the dishes, higher in the middle than at the sides, but no
dish so full as to endanger any falling over when helped; neither at
dinner nor dessert should the dishes be full. Place the larger kinds of
fruit, such as apples, pears, grapes, or oranges at top and bottom, the
smaller fruits and sweetmeats at the sides. Place a crystal jug of clear
water, with a tumbler on each side of it in the middle of the table, and
pounded sugar at top and bottom, which to look well, should be in cut
crystal glasses. If cream is required for strawberries or raspberries,
that also should be served in crystal. Glance your eye over the table to
see that all the dishes are standing straight, and exactly opposite to
each other, and all being properly arranged; leave the room, shutting the
door behind you.

Having removed everything from the hall, you will next shake and fold the
table-cloth, lay it in the napkin press, and carry the plates into the
scullery to be washed by the cook. It will then be time to proceed to the
drawing-room to put it in order, before the return of the family. You
will smooth the sofa, shake up the pillows, dust the table, and arrange
any books or newspapers (that may be scattered about) neatly upon it;
but beware of removing any book (which some one member of the family may
have been reading), and stuffing it into an odd corner, or even carefully
replacing it in the book-case; common sense should regulate in such
matters, and common sense should tell you, that it is most disagreeable
to have to hunt all over the room for a book, in which one is interested,
and which had been left on the table half an hour before. Having closed
the curtains, put fresh coals on the fire, and swept the hearth, it will
now be time to sit down to your own dinner with the rest of the servants
(unless the servants’ dinner has been at an earlier hour): as soon as
you have finished, carry away the dessert things from the dining-room,
and having washed the dessert plates, and the spoons, silver forks,
tumblers, and glasses, place all in order in the butler’s pantry, and
before you leave it, arrange the cups and saucers in the tea-tray, so
that if the family is small, and you have not a great many articles to
wash, you can again sit down to work till within a quarter of an hour of
the time for tea, when it will be necessary to get the butter and cream
in readiness, and to toast the bread or cake for tea. Be sure to remember
also to put the heater for the urn into the kitchen fire in such time
that it may be completely red-hot before putting it into the urn. Be
careful also that the water in the tea-kettle boils before it is poured
into it; the finest tea which can be used becomes tasteless and bad, if
the water in the urn does not boil, and in some families this happens
day after day; the servant is either obstinate or careless, and contents
herself with assuring you, either that it does boil or has boiled. No
such excuses should be listened to; the most effectual cure in such cases
is to send the urn from the table each time that the rising of the steam
does not prove the water to be at boiling heat.

While the family are at tea, the slops should be emptied in the
bed-rooms; the ewers and bottles filled up with fresh water, and the beds
folded down. If in summer, the windows are generally left open, and shut
before the housemaid retires to bed; and if in winter, the fire should be
lighted, taking care to shut the door and open a little bit of the window
before setting fire to the paper in the grate, and to return again in a
little time to shut the window, and add more coals to the fire, as more
particularly mentioned already.

Where there is no lady’s-maid, the housemaid will also be required to lay
out the combs and brushes on the toilet, to stretch out the curl-papers,
or cut fresh ones; to lay out the nightcap, neatly smoothed, and to
unfold the nightclothes, and hang them over a screen. Where there is a
lady’s-maid, the frills and nightcap are generally ironed; but where
the housemaid has much to do, there is not time for this. Once a week
or fortnight, the hair-brushes will require to be washed; they never
should be plunged into warm water, as it warps the back of the brush,
and destroys the polish, or discolours the ivory, and softens the hair;
a little soda should be mixed in warmish water, and the surface of the
brush moved swiftly up and down in it, taking care not to wet the back at
all. The soda will sufficiently clean it, and preserve the colour of the
hair, if too much soda is not used; if too strong it will burn the hair,
or turn it yellow; the brush should be left to dry for some time in the
same position, with the face turned down, that the water may run out.
When brushes are left to dry with the face up, the water lodges in all
the holes pierced for the hair, and discolours the back. Be careful never
to wash the tortoise-shell combs, it makes them brittle and apt to crack
over; they should be cleaned with a comb-brush, and rubbed with the palm
of the hand to keep up the polish. The cover of the toilet pincushion
should be regularly changed, as soon as it gets soiled; though the
washing is generally given out, yet there are small articles to be washed
from time to time in all families where things are well attended to, such
as the tidies, for the backs of sofas and chairs, the pincushion covers,
and where there is no lady’s-maid, and the family is small, the housemaid
may be also required to do up the lady’s muslins.

It is the greatest advantage to all housemaids to be able to get up
fine linen, and to have a knowledge of clear starching: besides making
a servant doubly useful to her mistress, it may be the means at any
time when out of a situation, of her gaining a respectable maintenance.
One who gets up muslins and laces in a superior manner, is sure to find
employment, and it may also lead to her filling one day, the superior
situation of lady’s-maid. Her excellence in this department, is not
only valuable as adding to the elegant appearance of her mistress, but
is productive of great saving in expense. A fine worked collar, with
expensive lace, may be torn or frayed, the very first time it is done
up, by improper management, and it is seldom that fine muslins or lace
have the elegant appearance they should have, or last the proper time,
from ignorance, or the want of due attention in getting them up. Nothing
spoils the appearance of dress more than torn lace, battered and stiff,
and fine muslin with the starch clouded upon it or frayed and ironed
awry. It will require considerable practice to attain perfection in this
department, and the best way to learn is to see others do it: still a few
instructions may be useful.

Muslin or lace should never be rubbed in washing. Take white soap, in
proportion to the muslins you have to wash, shave it down, and boil it
with soft water till it dissolves. When cold, it should be as thick
as jelly; mix a part of this jelly with soft tepid water, so as to be
strong of the soap; let the muslins lie in this for a night, then add
boiling water; move them up and down in the water, repeatedly squeezing
them through the hands, so as to wash them, but do not rub them.
Having steeped them well in soap and water before, makes rubbing quite
unnecessary; tie them loosely up in a pillow-case, and with soft water,
and the rest of the boiled soap, boil them for a couple of hours; if in
the country, they should be laid out on the grass to bleach (without the
soap being washed out), and watered when necessary, so as to keep them
moist. If in town, where no bleaching on the grass can be procured, put
them into a washing-tub, and having poured boiling water over them, leave
them in the back court in the air for the rest of the day, and during the
night in the water; this has a great effect in whitening them; in either
case, after being bleached, rinse them twice through cold water, to clear
them completely from the soap, and hang them up to dry before being
starched. A piece of lace, or any small article can be very well bleached
by being put outside the window in the sun, in a crystal bottle of water,
having been previously washed, and the soap left in it.

It is a frequent practice not to boil the starch, but to mix it with
boiling water, to hang up the muslins or laces the moment they have
been put through the starch, and squeezed out, and when dry, and as
hard as a piece of board, then they water them down (as it is called),
leaving one spot dry, and the rest wet, so that to stretch them out
for ironing, without tearing them, is almost impossible. This mode of
proceeding may account for the melancholy frequency of torn lace, and the
dull heavy appearance of beautiful worked collars, looking as if they
had been partially rubbed over with flour and water. To give them that
light transparent look which adds so much to their beauty, the treatment
must be very different; the starch should be mixed in a little cold soft
water, and bruised down with the back of a spoon till quite smooth: more
water should be added, till it resembles thin milk, then boiled in a
glazed-stone pipkin, till it becomes clear and thick, so as to jelly when
cold. The muslins and laces should be put through the starch, while it is
still warm; squeezed out first in the hand, then gently in a clean smooth
cloth, so as to get as much as possible of the starch out without fraying
them in any way. The cloth must not be twisted round in the slightest
degree, but gently pressed between the hands, putting but a few of the
articles in at one time; each article should then be taken separately,
held lightly by the two ends with the forefinger and thumb of each hand,
and beaten between the palms of both hands for a few minutes; next shaken
out and drawn, so that each thread in the muslin is perfectly straight,
and the shape of the collar is carefully preserved. If after holding
it up between you and the light, you find that in some parts it is not
sufficiently clear, then a little drawing up and down on those spots
will be necessary, so as to free every thread from the starch. It should
then be folded up in a damp cloth, and each article put beside it, as
soon as it has gone through the same process, so that the whole may have
a slight degree of dampness when ironed. When it is not convenient to
do up muslins the moment they are starched, it answers well after they
have been squeezed in the cloth, to fold up each article, and to leave
them wrapped up together in a cloth for some hours, or a night, to clear
themselves. When this is done, they generally require only to be drawn
a little, and folded up for ironing; but where great clearness is to
be obtained, the stiffer the starch, and the more they are beaten, the

In getting up fine things well much also depends on the ironing. The
ironing-blanket should be thick, so that the work on the collars, &c.,
&c., should have a raised look after being ironed; where the blanket is
thin the hard surface of the table flattens the work, and injures the
appearance. The ironing-blanket should be covered with a piece of thin,
smooth, long-cloth, kept for the purpose, and washed each time it is
used. In spreading out the collar, or whatever you are about to iron,
see that it lies perfectly even, and that each thread is straight up and
down; also that the iron has been carefully cleaned, first rubbed on a
piece of old carpet, and then wiped with a cloth; and also that it is
not too hot. Singing is a common fault with the inexperienced, and it is
a very bad one; for, even when it is not to such a degree as to burn,
which may easily happen with a very thin muslin, still it leaves a yellow
shade, which not only destroys the appearance at the time, but is very
difficult to get rid of. A little practice in handling the irons will
soon accustom one to the degree of heat necessary, and till that is the
case, an old pocket-handkerchief, or some such thing, should be at hand
to try each iron upon before you venture to iron anything of consequence.
Do not pass your iron frequently over the same place if you wish the
muslin to retain the stiffness, and also you should hang the article on
a screen before the fire the moment it is ironed; it becomes soft if
folded up with the slightest dampness upon it. Lace which, to look well,
should not be stiff, is improved and cleared by being put through cold
water as soon as it has been starched; it should then be squeezed out
held by each hand, very slightly beaten between the palms of the hands,
and gently drawn out; in drawing out the edge the nails must never touch
it; it should all be done by the ball of the thumb and forefinger, and
ironed once or twice over to take out the stiffening. When lace is sewed
to a muslin collar, and washed with it, as the collar requires to be
stiffer than the lace, it will be necessary, after putting it through
the starch, and clearing it by beating and drawing it, to gather the
lace together in the hand, and dip it into cold water, so as to take out
a good deal of the starch (taking care not to wet the collar); but this
is only necessary where the lace is put on with very little fulness, or
quite plain; where it is put on full enough to be set up in small pipes
with the French irons, or rather, curling tongs (as they may be called),
it is not necessary to extract any portion of the starch; the lace is the
better for being stiff, and, if rather damp when set up in these small
pipes, they will retain a regular and tidy appearance as long as the
collar can be worn.

These small French irons are to be got of different sizes, and answer
remarkably well for nightcap-borders, or frills of any kind. When making
use of them you should be near a stove or fire, where they can be
frequently heated, for, as they cannot be used when very hot, for fear of
singing the lace, they require to be constantly heated, and must be wiped
with a cloth each time before being used.

The care of the silver plate will also be part of the housemaid’s
occupation in a family where no footman is kept. Every day, what is
in daily use will require to be washed perfectly free from grease,
in boiling water, then rinsed through cold water, wiped with a clean
linen cloth, and rubbed up with soft chamois leather; very little daily
rubbing will be required if, once every week, the different articles
are washed with a sponge in pretty strong soap lye, well rinsed in warm
water, and rubbed up with the chamois leather; it is the rubbing well
that gives polish and brightness, and where plate is cleaned regularly
once a week with soap, it has a beautiful pale bright silvery look,
very different from that dark lustre which plate, cleaned with rouge,
presents. Quicksilver is generally mixed with those plate-powders sold in
the shops, and the high lustre which it gives at first is soon effaced,
and gives place to a dark, tarnished appearance; besides, if plate-powder
of this nature is frequently used, the article becomes so brittle that
a silver spoon or fork may be broken by a fall on a stone floor. Once
in the three months it may be well to clean all the plate thoroughly by
washing it first with soap-lye and hot water, and then rubbing it, either
with the finest sifted whiting and spirits of wine, or strong spirits,
or with prepared hartshorn and spirits of wine, and, when quite dry,
polishing briskly with the soft chamois leather, and also with the palm
of the hand—the longer plate is rubbed the brighter it will look. The
rouge sold by silversmiths is generally composed of prepared hartshorn
mixed with quicksilver, and coloured with a little rose-pink, and an
extravagant price is demanded for it: but in many houses, where the
plate has been remarked for having a particularly beautiful appearance,
it has been ascertained, that washing with soap lye, and polishing with
chamois leather and the palm of the hand, had done all, and that only
twice during the year had the plate been cleaned with plate-powder;
prepared hartshorn, with only so much rouge as to give it a pale pinkish
appearance, were then used.

It is painful to see the way in which, sometimes, the silver spoons,
forks, &c., are scratched by coarse dry whiting being used. Where the
finest whiting and spirits of wine cannot conveniently be made use of, it
is well, at the time of the general cleaning of plate, after the soap
has been used, to boil whiting in water, then dip the different articles
into this mixture, and, when the whiting has dried upon them, polish them
with the chamois leather. A soft brush will also be required in cleaning
plate, to brush the whiting well out of the carved places.

Plated articles should be cleaned in the same way, and rouge had better
be avoided altogether in cleaning them. Nothing stronger than spirits
of wine and whiting should be used, and that as seldom as possible; and
they should not be rubbed more than can be avoided to clean them. When
not in use they should be kept in flannel, or green baize, or buried in
well-dried bran, so as to be kept quite free from damp, and from the air.
It has been found from experience, that plated articles, once cleaned
with plate powder in which there was some injurious mixture, have never
recovered it; they look bright for a short time after being cleaned,
but each time they are put aside for a little they become so completely
discoloured, and it requires such hard rubbing to clean them, that the
silver plating must be very soon entirely effaced. When candlesticks are
spotted with wax or tallow, do not scrape them, but pour boiling water
upon the spots before cleaning them.

Whether in town or country, it is necessary to fix particular days
for such operations as are not of daily occurrence; such as cleaning
plate, washing brushes, arranging the butler’s pantry, comparing lists,
&c., &c. As the linen is generally given out in the beginning of the
week, and two days of each week will be required to clean the rooms
thoroughly, Friday might be fixed for washing brushes, cleaning plate,
and dusting the butler’s pantry; and Saturday and Monday for mending the
linen, previous to its being given to be washed. In the bustle of a town
life particularly, the plate will get tarnished, the pantry dusty, and
all will get into confusion in a housemaid’s work, unless certain days
are appointed, and regularity in observing them enforced; even in the
country, without regularity in cleaning, all will soon assume a slovenly
appearance; and if a mistress has not given written instructions for the
arrangement of the work, it would be well that the housemaid wrote them
down for herself, and strictly adhered to them.

In cleaning her pantry her labour will be greatly diminished by attention
in placing the trays always with their faces to the wall, turning the
wine-glasses, tumblers, &c., up-side-down on the shelves, placing paper
covers on the lamps, and keeping the drawers carefully shut; dust will
still penetrate, however, in some degree, and make it necessary, from
time to time, to wash the pantry itself, and all it contains; but where
the things in daily use are put by perfectly clean, and wiped dry, so
that the dust does not adhere to them, a little weekly attention in
dusting will keep all as it should be for a considerable time.

The plate, when rubbed up weekly, should be compared with the written
list, so that any missing article may be instantly looked for. And the
china, glass, &c., should be counted over the same way when the pantry
is thoroughly cleaned, and the mistress informed of any breakage or want
which may be discovered. In some houses it is a rule that a servant is
forgiven if she instantly gives information of having broken any article.
With a truly careful, conscientious servant this may answer very well,
but it has been found to render others only more careless, as they get
over the shame and distress of such confessions, and it may be well that
they should be made aware, that in proportion as those accidents (as they
are always called) happen, a part of the price of each article will be

It is quite wonderful the difference in expense which a careful or a
careless servant will make in a family. Some servants will go on for
months without cracking or chipping a single article, either of glass
or china, while others, both from mismanagement and carelessness, are
meeting with a _misfortune_ (as they generally call it) every week. It is
careless management when a servant seizes upon a vessel of earthenware to
wash the china or glass, instead of the wooden bowl which her mistress
has appointed for that purpose; the slightest touch against the hard
surface of the earthenware may be the means of cracking or chipping
a valuable cup or glass; and, even with the wooden bowl, care and
management are required. If the cups and saucers are all put into the
bowl at once, they may be knocked against each other, and injured in
the same way; whereas, if the warm water (not too warm) is poured into
the wooden bowl, and only one article dipped in at a time, it is almost
impossible that either cup or glass, however fragile, can be injured.

It is also careless management when a servant attempts to cut bread from
a loaf lying across a plate much too small for it; in this case the loaf
only rests on the edges of the plate, without touching the middle, and
the additional pressure, in attempting to cut it, may split the plate in
two. The same is likely to happen where large plates are heaped upon the
top of small ones; and, in cleaning lamps, the shade (which is a very
expensive article) is frequently broken by being laid on its side, and
rolling off the table; it may often be the oily appearance of the rim,
and the fear of soiling the table, which leads to this, but a moment’s
reflection will show, that both a safe and a clean mode of disposing of
it would be by turning the shade up, and placing it on its upper rim on
the table. Many lamp-shades are also cracked by the lamp, after it has
been cleaned, being pushed hastily against the wall when placing it on
the shelf in the butler’s pantry; it is right and orderly to place it on
the shelf, to be out of the way of accidents, but it is wrong to do it
in so careless a manner as to produce the very accident it was meant to
avoid. The shades are often cracked, also, by the lamp being turned up
too hastily when first lighted; the sudden strong flame cracks the glass
immediately. And tumblers and wine-glasses are generally cracked by hot
water being poured hastily into them.

With a careful servant none of these things will happen. She will put the
loaf on end before cutting from it, she will place the largest plates at
bottom, and not pile too many on each other, and the lamp will be set
carefully on the shelf, and when lit, by turning it slowly up, the flame
will be gently raised, so that the glass will be heated by degrees.

But when an accident does happen, from whatever cause, let instant
information be given, and reproof borne patiently. Remember that the
fault of concealment is infinitely the worse fault of the two; it is not
only mean and dishonourable to an earthly master, but it is a sin against
God. “_For God will bring every work into judgment, whether it be good or
whether it be evil_.”[5] And servants may break the eighth commandment,
“_Thou shalt not steal_,” in many ways besides actually taking what
does not belong to them. A servant has many things under her care. If
therefore she indulges in dirty and careless habits, she injures her
master’s property, and is in this respect dishonest. All wastefulness is
a species of dishonesty, for to waste or destroy her master’s property
is to deprive him of what is his. Eye-service is also dishonest; by
eye-service is meant, doing well only as long as the eye of a mistress is
upon you, forgetting St. Paul’s exhortation—

“_Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not
with eye-service, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing

“_And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not unto

“_Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the
inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ._”[6]

Yes, service is honourable, and vice and virtue belong to no one station
in life. The Gospel teaches, that all are servants, and that with God
there is no respect of persons, but all alike are called upon to do
their duty in that station of life in which heaven has placed them. It
is the duty of a master and mistress to watch over the conduct of their
servants. In allowing them to continue in error, they become partners
in their fault, and it is the duty of servants to bear reproof with
patience—“_Not answering again_”—and to render an implicit obedience, and
a willing service, daily imploring assistance from a higher power, to
withstand the temptations to which they are hourly exposed, and to fulfil
the duties of the situation in which they have been placed. A few words
have already been said on the propriety of a servant dressing in a quiet
and modest manner. Neatness and economy are the points most necessary to
be attended to. Nothing gives a more unpleasant idea of a servant, than
to see her flaunting about in dirty finery. Muslin dresses, artificial
flowers, &c., &c., are all unbecoming in her station in life. In a gown
neatly made of cotton-cloth or stuff, a tidy white apron, and a neat
little clean cap of bobbin net, with coloured worsted drawn through the
cases, she will be genteelly and well dressed, for she will be dressed
according to her station. One cannot see a servant dressed in this modest
and becoming manner, without feeling respect for her, and forming a good
opinion of her general conduct and character; in her daily work there
will probably be the same spirit of cleanliness and regulation, and in
her mind also. A mistress has been heard to observe, that in looking
out for housemaids, her mind always turns to the remembrance of a young
girl, who was with her but for six weeks, during the illness of her own
servant. This girl was regularly and cleanly in doing her work, but by
no means remarkably clever. It was her quiet, neat, modest appearance,
that left so favourable an impression. It was her grey stuff gown, white
apron, and pure white muslin cap, with the border plaited close in about
her young and blooming face, that was still remembered with interest.
No ribbon or lace was ever seen on this young girl, and her mistress
learned on inquiry, that during a dangerous illness she had been visited
by a worthy clergyman, who had earnestly endeavoured to raise her mind
above the vanities of this world. She had made a resolution then, that
she never would again dress beyond her station in life, and never spend
another farthing on lace, ribbon, or finery of any kind, or even wear
them if given to her; and she had at that period kept her resolution for
many years. How differently does one feel towards a girl flaunting about
in vulgar finery, with bright ribbons, and coarse artificial flowers,
mimicking her mistress in manners, and attempting to outshine her in
dress! It is impossible not to conceive a bad opinion of that servant,
both as to her judgment and heart. It is very evident that more attention
is given to dressing up her own person, than to doing her mistress’s
work, and that she prefers a bright ribbon, or gaudy artificial flower,
to the power of occasionally helping an old father and mother, or a sick
sister, or relation, or if no such claims are upon her, of putting what
she can spare from necessary articles of clothing into the savings’
bank, so as to ensure a small fund for times of sickness or for her own
old age. Let no one think that a shilling, or even a much smaller sum,
is not worth the laying up, and that it may therefore be as well made
use of in the indulgence of some piece of dress or amusement, and that
those presents of money which a servant may occasionally receive from
her mistress’s visitors, may lawfully be employed in the purchase of
imitation lace, or some such piece of useless finery. There is certainly
no moral law against her spending, as she chooses, what is her own, but
in so spending it she injures herself materially. It is not meant that
in anxiety to save she should be shabby or mean in her appearance, but
a gown of cotton, or woollen stuff, will last double the time of one of
a thinner texture, and in it she will be better dressed because made
properly; and she would do well to remember, that even a few half-pence
saved at a time, will soon amount to a shilling, and even a single
shilling will be received in a savings’ bank; and that if the half-crowns
given to her from time to time were added to those lesser savings, and
such a wise habit were begun on a girl first going to service, and
continued as her wages increase, the money thus placed will have doubled
itself again and again before old age comes on, and the feeling of
independence will not only increase the enjoyment of the present moment,
but greatly brighten the future, for even the most unthinking servants
must sometimes look forward with dread to that day, when their services
will be rejected, and when old age will come upon them, before either
friends or money have been provided. A silly flaunting girl, who spends
all upon her person, and is for ever changing her situation, from the
hope of higher wages, or getting into a gayer family, cannot expect, in
poverty or old age, to be assisted by those who probably were only too
happy to get rid of her imperfect services. Whereas, a girl whose heart
is in her work, and in the wish to save her mistress trouble in every
possible way, and who never enters her presence but with an appearance
so neat and modest, as constantly to ensure her respect and approbation,
may one day come to be looked upon more as a friend than a servant, and
to assist her endeavours at independence in the time of sickness or old
age, will be considered as a real pleasure. A good mistress will esteem
the possession of a perfectly faithful and attached servant as a blessing
which no money can either purchase or repay; in times of sickness,
particularly (for sickness will come in all families), what comfort and
alleviation have been experienced from the unwearied, watchful care of an
attached servant; and though the care of the sick does not usually fall
to the housemaid’s duty, yet a few words on this subject may one day or
other be found useful.

In a good nurse, a light foot and very gentle movements are indispensable
requisites; the most watchful care cannot atone for the absence of such
qualities; it is only those who have suffered from illness themselves
that can tell all the misery of a heavy foot, or quick or hasty
movements in a sick room: all bustle or noise should be carefully
avoided; the rustling sound of folding or unfolding a newspaper, or even
turning hastily the leaves of a book, is painful to a sick person; loud
speaking is generally refrained from, but whispering is often indulged
in, and, to the sick ear, nothing is more fatiguing than the indistinct
buzzing sound of words which cannot be understood. By attention and
forethought almost every noise which is hurtful in a sick-room can be
avoided. If you have creaking shoes let them immediately be changed for
light slippers. If the door has a rusty lock, or creaking hinges, let
them be oiled. Avoid the noise of throwing small coal upon the fire
(which often rattles down upon the hearth), by lifting small pieces of
coal with the tongs; or, have an old glove to hand, and lift them with
your hand; and, when the fire requires to be poked, use a bit of wood,
so as to avoid all clatter of poker and tongs against the grate. Keep in
mind, that at all times the absence of noise and bustle is desirable,
but to the sick, whose nerves are in a proportionally weak state with
the rest of the body, it is of the very greatest importance. Have a
table covered with a nicely clean napkin, so that no noise is made in
putting down a glass or spoon, and to avoid as much as possible going
out and in of the room, have a tray covered in the same way, and filled
with all you are likely to require, such as a few cups, glasses, spoons,
&c., &c. A pitcher of fresh water should also be in the room, and, if in
cold weather, it is better to have a small kettle by the fire than to
have to send to the kitchen every time warm water is required. The cups,
glasses, &c., should not be sent from the room to be washed, but a wooden
bowl, and a supply of clean towels, kept on a table in a corner in which
they can be washed up the moment they are used. The greatest possible
cleanliness should be observed in a sick-room: a nauseous draught may be
made infinitely more so to the patient by being presented in a smeared,
sticky glass. When it is necessary to taste anything before giving it
to a sick person, take a clean spoon, which you should immediately put
aside to be washed, but never put your lips to the cup or glass. In
giving anything to the sick, spread a napkin, for the moment, on the
upper sheet, that no drop, should it fall, may give an untidy look to
the bed. The washing and arranging the necessary things should not be
done in the patient’s sight, but in some quiet corner of the room; to
witness continued movement, or even occupation of any kind, is often most
fatiguing to a sick person. Never leave the room without thinking of all
you can take away and bring back at the same time, that your opening and
shutting the door may be as little frequent as possible.

If the patient is too weak to be able to leave her bed, the linen may be
changed by rolling the under sheet up at both sides, towards the middle,
and putting the clean one, with one half rolled up, in its place; the
patient can then gently be lifted up over those rolls to where the clean
half of the sheet has been spread; the two rolls of the original sheet
should be removed, and the other half of the clean one unrolled on the
opposite side of the bed to where the patient has been placed. To change
the upper sheet, a person should stand on each side of the bed, and
holding each a corner of the top of the sheet, let them insert it at the
bottom of the bed, and then pull it gently up; the other sheet can be
removed by being pulled down in the same manner. The bed-linen should be
hung before a fire for some hours, and thoroughly aired, before it is put
upon the bed; and when it is necessary that, in changing the linen of the
patient, it should be put on warm, hold the collar of the nightgown to
the fire; when thoroughly warmed turn that part in, warm the next part,
and fold it in, in the same manner, and continue warming and folding till
the whole is one close roll, which should be instantly carried to the
bed of the patient. It is not sufficient to hold a nightgown before the
fire, and then carry it unfolded across the room, to be cooled by the
outer air before it reaches the sick-bed. Body linen should be changed
even oftener in sickness than in health, and no clothing worn during
the day should be continued to be worn during the night; every article
should be hung up, so as to be completely aired before morning; in the
same manner, what has been used during the night should be left off in
the day. When the patient is able to sit up long enough to have it done,
the bed-clothes should be regularly carried out, and aired before an open
window in another room, and the bed left uncovered, and the mattress
turned; where the patient is so weak as generally to be confined to bed,
considerable relief may be experienced by being raised in bed by means of
a bed-chair, for much support is required by the back when in an upright
position. Where there is no bed-chair, a small footstool, put behind the
bolster, doubled, and the pillows, is a tolerably good substitute; it
adds greatly to the comfort of this position to have something for the
feet to rest against, something solid, which will not change its place
when pushed against. Where there is a foot-board it is easy to place
some such article on the bed; and even where this is not the case, it
can be managed by a strong brace of linen being first fastened across
the foot of the bed. By attention to this manner of raising the patient,
the stress is taken off the spine, without which there can be no relief
in the change of position. A light shawl or mantle should be at hand, to
be thrown over the shoulders of the sick person when sitting up in bed,
and while lying down; the air of the sick-room may be often changed,
by throwing a shawl over the bed, or even drawing it over the face if
necessary, while the window is opened for a few minutes. It is often
refreshing to a sick person to have a few drops of vinegar sprinkled
about the room, and to have their temples and hands spunged with vinegar
and lukewarm water; even such small changes as these are generally an
expressible relief to the sick, if administered gently, without haste or

Preparations should be begun in good time for laying a patient quiet for
the night, as they may be made feverish by not having perfect quietness
in the room at an early hour. A small table should be set by the
bed-side, on which fresh toast and water, and any medicine to be taken
during the night, should be placed within reach of the patient; or, if
they are so ill as to require any one to watch by them, let the person
seat herself, not too near the bed, but still within reach of perceiving
the slightest sign, or hearing the gentlest whisper; and let her be
careful so to shade the light, which it is necessary to have in the
sick-room, so that no ray, either from candle or rushlight, may fall upon
the eyes of the patient, or on any part of the bed.

The necessary medicine, or toast and water, when required, should be
given to the sick without entering into anything like conversation, or
asking needless questions, which, by awakening them completely, may break
their rest for the remainder of the night. Young nurses in particular,
often err from over anxiety to make themselves useful, and the idea
that they must for ever be doing something for the patient: they are
constantly urging them to take a little nourishment, or to change their
position, or to allow their pillow to be beat up, while they are only
anxious to be left in peace, and to rest their weary head in the position
in which they themselves have placed it.


[1] Loose white wrappers kept for that purpose, should be thrown over the
working dress, while the beds are being made.

[2] To cover the floor with brown paper before the carpet is put down is
a great preservative.

[3] Spots of grease on the carpet should not be washed out. Fullers’
earth, in fine powder should be rubbed in _dry_ and left for some days
before it is brushed off.

[4] Attention should be given to the manner in which the China ornaments
are placed before they are taken up to be dusted, so as to replace them
exactly in the same position.

[5] Eccles. xii. 14.

[6] Colossians iii. 22, 23. Titus ii. 9.


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