When I found a book,
published in 1863, with the title of Monday
Morning, And how to get through it
, I thought perhaps some of the advice
might still be helpful today. I should have read the subtitle more thoroughly. The
target readership for the manual is a class that is severely depleted nowadays.
The second half of the title reads: A
Collection Of Useful Practical Hints On Housekeeping And Household Matters, For
Just in case
there are any gentlewomen amongst you -
especially gentlewomen new to the marital state, and very especially those who
are having trouble keeping their husbands happy, and their servants at their
tasks – I give you a short extract from the Preface of the book, in the hope
that it will assist you.
said a bride once to me; "how I wish the week always began on a Tuesday!"
I said nothing
in reply, but I thought to myself, "And perhaps your poor husband does the
pamphlet is intended to give ladies whose experience is yet to be learnt by
habit a few hints how to get through that keystone to the week, both quickly
and well. I do not profess to teach them anything new, but to put old things
simply in their way, so that they may make fewer blunders when first beginning
as housekeepers, and correct those already contracted. Monday, after Sunday,
finds "nothing in the house”, the tradesmen call for orders, and bring
their books to be paid. "Monday morning" is followed by "Monday
evening," when "Edward, dear," or "Charles, love,"
require of us an account as to how their cheques, given us the preceding week,
have been spent. Suppose we have let the morning slip away without casting up
our accounts, and balancing "cash received" with "cash
spent," "Edward" will get irascible, and "Charles"
irritable, and scold us for being bad housekeepers. We shall in vain plead
inexperience, and that having been only married a few weeks, we "don't
know how to manage." Husbands are all alike; and, if you would retain your
influence over them, keep your position - by not disdaining a better
acquaintance with homely things, and arrange your duties in simple routine on
A Woman who
respects herself, and her position, as a gentlewoman, will come down to
breakfast neatly and appropriately dressed. Her attire will be quiet and
perfectly clean, avoiding a soiled silk gown, and choosing a material suitable
to the occasion. In her hand she will carry a small, light basket, containing
her keys. Suppose she is head only of a small establishment, let us say,
consisting of a man-servant, cook, housemaid, and lady's maid.
As she enters
the breakfast room, before her husband or brother is there, she gives a glance
at the table-cloth, and is very glad to see that it is snowy and clean.
plate should have a fine damask napkin on it; for, as gentlemen seldom eat
luncheon, breakfast ought to be a substantial repast, and hot dishes require
napkins in these days of moustaches.
There should be
either cold meat, cold chicken, or game on the sideboard; besides which, one
small hot dish is a sine qua non on the breakfast-table in England. .... ... Prepare
your tea or coffee before your husband is down, so that when he enters the room
he may find all ready and comfortable, and then have in your servants for
Breakfast being finished, a lady's male relations, in the country
as well as in London, generally leave her alone, more or less, till dinner
time; and it is then on "Monday morning" that the business of the day
We will divide
the morning (of course leaving our readers to vary the arrangement, according
to the habits of their different families) into different stages. Breakfast
from nine to ten, and luncheon at half-past one, and, if in London, seven
o'clock is the usual hour for dinner.
From ten to
half-past one comprises, then, a lady's morning, and you have on "Monday
morning" more to do in that three hours and a half than on any other
morning of the week.
half-past ten may be spent in your drawing-room, as it is better to allow the
servants time to clear away the breakfast things before you go down stairs to
In the drawing-room
your duties appear light, but they will occupy you fully half an hour.
The fire is
burning brightly, in a clean and bright grate, and the room is nicely arranged,
if your housemaid is a good servant and "knows your ways,” yet still a lady's
taste and hand is often required to give that air of elegance and comfort to
the gentlewoman's drawing-room that a servant's arrangement never gives; and it
is wonderful the difference that bringing this chair or couch forwarder, or
pushing them a little backwarder, makes in the appearance of a room.
While on the
subject, let me suggest to young mistresses the advantage of keeping a clean
duster in some closet in the drawing-room, for a servant to wipe up water, or
remove dust, in a hurry.
should always dust the drawing-room,
wives find this one of the most irksome of their duties; but it is one that
cannot be shirked by any mistress of a household, except in establishments
where a housekeeper is kept.
I do not,
however, advise ladies to be always in the kitchen; and the morning's visit,
once paid, need not be repeated, unless something unusual occurs. First, go
into the larder and see what remains from Sunday's dinner, and give your orders
It is an
excellent rule to write down daily for the cook the dinner and luncheon that
you wish sent up, and it prevents mistakes. For this purpose, provide your cook
with a good-sized slate and pencil, and write down all you wish.
1st. For your luncheon.
2nd For the servants' dinner.
3rd For your own dinner.
different orders for the tradesmen.
.... A good,
considerate mistress, generally speaking, can command the services of faithful
servants. It may assist young housekeepers to mention here the allowances
generally made to servants, per week; though under the head of "engaging
servants," you will find more about this in detail. (See Index.)
are each allowed at the rate of one pint of beer at dinner, and one at supper;
a pound of meat each meal, and a quartern and half of bread, and three quarters
of butter, per week, is the fair average that they may be considered to
consume. Female servants ought to have half a pint of beer each. ....
Phew! So many responsibilities and it is still only
mid-morning in the home of the bride-gentlewoman.
The recipe for the day is from
the same book, chosen because I couldn’t help wondering if the bride ever wished
she had chosen life in the convent. And because the dish sounds very adaptable
and versatile for the over-burdened wife.
Eggs," For Breakfast Or Second Course.
Take three eggs, which boil very hard, five or six minutes.
When cold, shell and halve them. Take three potatoes, as near as possible of
the same size; boil and halve them. Place the eggs and potatoes alternately on
a flat dish, and pour over them a thick, hot, white sauce, made with cream and
flavoured with peppercorns; then serve up very hot. The eggs and potatoes
should be prepared in good time, but be kept hot, and only placed on the dish
when the same is quite ready, so that the whole may be eaten soon after it is
Quotation for the Day.
I haven't trusted polls since I read that 62%
of women had affairs during their lunch hour. I've never met a woman in my life
who would give up lunch for sex.