Domestic Advice from 1828 Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania)

Old Parr’s Maxims of Health.

Keep your feet warm by exercise, your head cool through temperance; never eat till you are hungry, nor drink but when nature requires it.

To clean Plated Articles.

Take an ounce of killed quicksilver and half a pound of the best whitening sifted; mix them with spirits of wine when used.

To extinguish Fire in a Chimney.

Put a wet blanket over the whole of the fireplace, which will stop the current of air, and so extinguish the flames.

How to prevent Rust.

The cutlers, in Sheffield, prevent polished steel from tarnishing by rubbing it with powdered quick-lime, or by dipping it in lime-water. 

To render Shingles Fire-proof.

Mix one pint of fine sand, two of wood ashes, sifted, and three of slackened lime, ground up with oil, laid on with a painters’ brush; and this will make any substance resist fire or water.

How to destroy Bugs.

Dissolve in equal proportions of spirits of turpentine and vinegar, a quantity of salt-petre. Wash the furniture with this, and it will not only destroy all the bugs that it touches, but none will come again on those things so washed.

Cure for a Cough.

Mix vinegar and treacle in equal quantities, and let a tea-spoonful be taken occasionally, when the cough is troublesome. This is the recipe of the late Dr. Hugh James, of Carlisle.

To take Stains out of Mahogany.

Mix together six ounces of spirits of salt, and half an ounce of rock salts of lemons (powdered) drop a little of this mixture on the stains, and rub it with a cork till it disappears, then wash it off with cold water.

To beautify Mahogany or Cedar.

Take one pint of cold drawn linseed oil, four ounces of white wax, four ounces of oil of turpentine, and half an ounce of alkanet root; mix them together, and let them stand three days when it will be fit for use; it may be applied with a woollen cloth, and after being well rubbed, will produce a most brilliant effect.

To take Spots out of Linen.

Take a piece of mould candle,melt it, and dip the spotted part of the linen in the melted tallow, then put it to wash. It will come perfectly white from the hands of the laundress, and there never will be any hole in the spotted part. This experiment has been tried, and found superior to salt of lemons, or spirits of salts, which often destroy the linen.

Cure for the Cancer.

Sheep sorrel (leaf like that of clover), express the juice on a pewter plate; expose it to the sun until it assumes the consistency of salve; apply this as a plaster to the cancer, and change it occasionally, as necessity may require. It will fully and entirely extract the cancer. If the disease be really cancer, the application will cause pain; if not, no pain will ensue.

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To clean all sorts of Metal.

Mix half a pint of refined neat’s foot oil, and half a gill of spirits of turpentine, with this mixture wet a piece of woollen cloth, and dip it in fine powdered rotten stone, then rub the metal well, wipe off with a soft cloth, and polish with a dry leather, and more of the powdered rotten stone. For steel, if very rusty, use a little powder of pummice with the liquid, on a separate woollen rag first.

To destroy Caterpillars.

To expel worms and caterpillars from trees, bore a hole in the trunk as far as the heart, and fill it with sulphur, and then plug it up. In 48 hours, no insect will be seen on the tree. Another method will effect this, by shaking a little hellebore (powdered) on trees infected with the caterpillar. This being done, the caterpillars will all disappear. This remedy is cheap and easy; a small quantity of hellebore will do for each tree.

Cure for the Rheumatism.

As the cold weather approaches, use wash leather for an under waistcoat,especially those persons who perspire freely, and are subject to rhuematic pains. It has been known that persons, by the use of this material, have been entirely freed from their former visitations of rhuematic pains, and likewise to have been more warm and comfortable through the winter, than by an additional clothing, to which they have usually had recourse.

A Fire-proof and Water-proof Cement.

To half a pint of milk put an equal quantity of vinegar, in order to curdle it; then separate the curd from the whey, and mix the whey with the whites of four or five eggs, beating the whole well together. When it is well mixed, add a little quick lime, through a sieve, until it has acquired the consistence of a thick paste. With this cement broken vessels and cracks of all kinds may be mended. It dries quickly, and resists the action of fire and water. 

To take Stains out of Marble.

Take unslacked lime in the finest powder, and mix it with the strongest soap-lye, tolerably thick; and immediately with a painter’s brush lay it on the whole of the marble; let it remain for two months, and then wash it off perfectly clean; afterwards, make a thick lather of soft soap boiled in soft water, dip a brush in it, and scour the marble with polishing powder; this will, by very good rubbing, give a beautiful polish; clear off the soap, and finish with a smooth hard brush and the polishing powder. 

To make Boots and Shoes Waterproof.

The following recipe, although it will not render boots and shoes entirely waterproof, will make them much more impervious to wet, more durable and pliable, and prevent their cracking: —Take one point of boiled linseed oil, two ounces of bees’ wax, two ounces of spirits of turpentine, and one ounce of Burgundy pitch, melted carefully over a slow fire. With this composition rub the soles and upper leathers, when wet, with a small piece of sponge, in the sun, or at a distance from the fire; rub them as often as they become dry, until the leather is fully saturated.—Mechanics Magazine.

Another for the same.

Boots and shoes may be made perfectly waterproof by the following composition:— Take three ounces of spermaceti, and melt it in a pipkin or other earthen vessel over a slow fire; add thereto some India rubber cut into slices; these will presently dissolve; then add two ounces of hog’s lard, eight ounces of tallow, lour ounces of amber varnish, mixed together, and it will be fit for use immediately. Cover the boots or shoes twice or thrice with this composition with a common blacking brush, and they will acquire a beautiful polish. 

Paste that will keep any length of Time.

To be made with flour in the usual way, but rather thick, with a proportion of brown sugar, and a small portion of corrosive sublimate. The sugar keeps it flexible, and prevents it scaling off from smooth surfaces, and the corrosive sublimate, independently of preserving it from insects, is an effectual check against its fermentation. This last, however, does not prevent the formation of mouldiness; but a drop or two of the essential oil of lavender, peppermint, aniseed, or bergamot, is a complete security against it. Paste made in this manner, and exposed to the air, dries without change to a state resembling horn, so that it may at any time be wetted again and applied to use, and if kept in a close covered pot, may be preserved in a state for use at all times. 

How to clean Plate.

Boil an ounce of prepared hartshorn powder in a quart of water; while on the fire, put into it as much plate as the vessel will hold, let it boil a little, then take it out, drain it over the saucepan, and dry it before the fire; put in more, and serve the same, till you have done, then put into the water some clean linen rags, till all be soaked up, when dry, they will serve to clean the plate, and are also the very best things to clean the brass locks and finger-plates of doors. When the plate is quite dry, it must be rubbed bright with leather; this will be found a most excellent method. In many plate powders there is a mixture of quicksilver, which is very injurious to the person using it, and among other disadvantages, it makes silver so brittle, it will frequently break with a fall.

Administering Laudanum to Children.

A female having complained of her child being extremely restless, was recommended by a neighbour to give it landanum. The amount of six drops was administered in pursuance of this imprudent advice, and the poor infant, which was only a month old, in a very short period became corpse in its mother’s arms.

Source:  Domestic Economy and Useful Family Receipts. (1828, April 1). Colonial Advocate, and Tasmanian Monthly Review and Register (Hobart Town, Tas. : 1828), p. 30.

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