Monday, August 18, 2014

How to Settle Your Stomach, 1695

"Excessive Drinking of Wine"
De conservanda bona valetudine (University of Pennsylvania)
"The Oyl of Wormwood by Decoction, Oyl of Quinces, and Oyl of Mastich, are reckoned by Authors the three Stomach Oyls, for outward Use, to strengthen the Stomach in Vomitings, &c. Two or three drops of the Chymical Oyl, is convenient in a Dose of Stomach Pills, in crapulent Cases, and after a drunken Debauch, to prevent Surfeiting, by cleansing the Stomach of filth and ill Humours.” 
William Westmacott, Historia vegetabilium sacra
Feeling crapulent? Just keep this toolkit of oils on hand for your next drunken debauch. Goodbye, vomitings!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to Show Respect, 1889

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Find out what it means to this dude.

"Kneeling... is a salute made upon meeting a person. It may be accompanied by kissing the hand of the person, in which case the one kneeling will use his own hand which is farthest from the audience, and lift to his lips the hand of the other person which is nearest him. The lips should touch the hand very lightly and no actual kissing occur... The Ninth Kneeling Attitude means Respect. It is made by advancing to kneel upon one knee and placing the tips of the fingers of the right hand to the lips."

Edmund Shaftesbury, Lessons in the Art of Acting (1889)

Need to make a good impression on your boss or godfather? This Victorian stage kneel with optional air-kiss will get you the promotion you desire. Just remember: no actual kissing. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

How to Carry Objects While Swimming, 1595

"To carrie any thing drie over the water in his hands. This is onely done by swimming upon his backe, and strayning himselfe to lye straight with his body, so that he holde his armes straight up, which will else force him to bend his bodie, and so he shall sincke, and holding his armes upward as afore, he may easilie carrie, or recarry, any thing over the water without wetting, as for example."

Christopher Middleton, A Short Introduction for to Learne to Swimme

Need to cross a river with cargo? This technique will get you to the other side with your belongings dry. As the illustration suggests, it works particularly well with... live birds.

Monday, July 28, 2014

How to Eat at Sea, 1607

Detail of ship, Hendrik Cornelisz Vroom, c. 1600
"A cheape, fresh and lasting victuall, called by the name of Macaroni amongst the Italians, and not unlike (save onely in forme) to the Cus-cus in Barbary, may be upon reasonable warning provided in any sufficient quantity, to serve either for change and variety of meat, or in the want of fresh victual."  
Hugh Plat, Certaine Philosophical Preparations of Foode and Beverage for Sea-Men
Need some sustenance for your upcoming sea voyage? You can subsist for months entirely on this special victual, called by the name of Macaroni amongst the Italians and the college students. Pair it with some ketchup and you're on your way to the Indies!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

How to Improve Hearing, 1658

“For to make a man hear. Take a red Onion and pick out the top, and fill it full of fair hot Hens grease; and lay the top on again, and rost it in the Embers till it be tender, and then quish out the oyl into the ears of the sick man or woman, and then stop the ears with black wooll.”

Thomas Collins, Choice and Rare Experiments in Physick and Chirurgery

Yes, this remedy will make you hear -- if what you want to hear is the sound of hot chicken fat quishing around in your head.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How to Picnic, 1876

I seem to have forgotten something. The potato salad?
Édouard Manet, Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe, 1862-3
"Invitations for a picnic should be sent out about ten days before the time named, or at least long enough to fill up any vacancies caused by refusals. The food and delicacies of all kinds provided should be abundant, and, of course, cold. It should be sent on to the spot fixed on under the care of the servants. Take care to have carriages which will close in case of rain amongst your conveyances. The above instructions relate to a picnic given by one person to her friends. The ordinary picnic is an arrangement between more or fewer persons to bring provisions, &c., and share expenses. In this case the ladies supply the eatables, the gentlemen the wine." 
Etiquette for Ladies and Gentlemen, 1876
Picnic must-have list: servants, rainproof conveyances, and plenty of gentlemen.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How to Prevent Sunburn, 1665

Hans Adam Weissenkircher, Helios on His Chariot, c. 1685
"To keep the face from Sunburn, you had best wash with water drawn from the whites of eggs, or juice of soure grapes... or take goats suet well washed in cleare water, beat it in a mortar with rose water, strein it through a thick cloth, then take oile of sweet almonds one ounce, sugar candy two drams, camfre half a dram, boile them all together, stirring them continually that they may be white, when it hath boiled a pretty while put it into a glass for your use. If you goe abroad in the Sun or Wind anoint the face with it, and 'twill preserve your complexion." 
Thomas Jeamson, Artificiall Embellishments (1665)
Don't hit the beach this summer without a jar of homemade goat-fat sunblock. Sun protection factor unknown, ick factor 85.