Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fun excerpts from 1884's "What Every One Should Know"

The subtitle of "What Every One Should Know" lets you know that, indeed, you are in for a doozy of a book:
"A Cyclopedia of Practical Information. Complete Directions for Making and Doing Over 5,000 Things Necessary in Business, The Trades, The Shop, The Home, The Farm, And the Kitchen. Recipes, Prescriptions, Medicines, Manufacturing, Processed, Trade Secrets, Chemical Preparations, Mechanical Appliances, Aid to Injured, Antidotes, Business Information, Every Day Law, Ornaments, Home Decorations, Art Work, Fancy Work, Agriculture, Fruit Culture, Stock Raising, and hundreds of other useful hints and helps. Gathered from the Most Reliable Sources."
Here are some entries I came across while flipping through the text:
  • Abscess: (Never mind. I see the word "pus". Let's skip this one.)
  • Black Tongue in Cattle: (Nope. Skipping that too.)
  • Canaries, care of: Never put canaries in a painted cage, as they will pick the wires and thus imbibe poison.
  • Fire, what to do in case of: Do not get confused; admit no one to your house except firemen, policemen or neighbors. If a lady's or child's dress takes fire, endeavor to roll the person up in a rug, carpet, or any piece of woolen stuff.
  • Flesh-worms on the skin: (No.)
  • Goose (Roast): Boil and mash some potatoes; fill the goose with them. When half roasted, take out the potatoes and have ready a stuffing of sage, bread-crumbs, parboiled onions; fill the goose and finish roasting. This is a great improvement on the old mode, as it draws out the fat, and makes the fowl very delicate.
  • Guano, home-made: (Pass.)
  • Harvest Drink: Mingle together five gallons of pure water, one half gallon molasses, one quarter of vinegar, and two ounces of powdered ginger. This drink is very invigorating.
  • House, how to set on fire: 1. Rub your furniture with linseed oil, and preserve carefully the old greasy rags used for this purpose, in a paper box in an out-of-the-way place. 2. If the fire in the stove does not burn well, pour benzine or kerosene on it from a well-filled gallon can. 3. When you light a cigar, or the gas, throw the burning match - no matter where, and don't look after it even if it gets into the wastepaper basket. 4. Put a burning candle on the shelf of a closet, and forget about it. 5. Always read in bed until you fall asleep with a light burning near you. 6. Always buy the cheapest kerosene you can get.
  • Stiff Neck, treatment: Warmed molasses and mustard make a good plaster for stiff neck.
  • Toads are Useful: Toads, according to Professor Miles, live almost entirely upon slugs, caterpillars, beetles and other insects, making their rounds at night, when the farmer is asleep - and the birds, too - and the insects are supposed to be having their own way. French farmers understand these facts so well that they purchase toads, at so much a dozen, and turn them loose.
  • Tumors, to remove: (Absolutely not.)


  1. Hmmm. Canaries vs poison paint. Does this harken back to your dreaded lead posts?

  2. I knew that toads were my friends.