Tuesday, September 2, 2014

How to Play with a Cat, 1658

How to make dainty sport with a Cat.

Mildly Grumpy Cat
Edward Topsell, The History of Four-Footed
Beasts
(1607)
☞ "If you will have some sport with a Cat, then get a little Bel, such as the tame Hawkes have at their legs, and tye the Bell something hard at the end of the Cats tayle, and let her go, she feeling of her tayle smart, and hearing of the Bel gingle, she will run up and down as if she were mad, flying against the walls and windowes: then if she can, she will get into some hole to hide her selfe, but when she wags her tayle never so little, then out she comes, and is as mad as before, and never will rest quiet till it be taken off, or she can get it off her selfe."

☞ "Some have shod a Cat round, with putting melted Pitch into foure Walnut-shels, and placing her feet therein, and she will make pretty sport."

☞ "I was told of a merry Fellow that came into an Ale-house in cold weather, and finding but a reasonable Fire, said, Hee would make the Cat pisse it out, and watching his opportunity, he getteth his Hostesses Cat, putting her head betwixt his thighs, and holding her foure feet fast in one hand, and with the other hand held up her tayle neer the fire, and did pisse such abundance that she quite quenched the same."

John White, A Rich Cabinet with Variety of Inventions

Some dainty cat capers from the pre-YouTube era! I imagine the cat would respond by making dainty sport of removing your face from your head.

Monday, August 25, 2014

How to Behave in School, 1595

“Be it far from thee to go unto the Schoole with as ill a will as wicked dooers goe unto the Stockes, or to the Gallowes... when thou art at Schoole, bee studious in thy lectures learning, attentive to thy Masters wordes and documents, what soever thy Master shall teach, mark it heedfully, and meditate thereon earnestly untill thou have learned the same perfectlye... Flie all fighting and wrangling with thy fellowes. But be curteous, gentle & lowlie, among all both rich and poore. Make no noyse nor use any meane, whereby thou maiest disturbe thy schoolefellowes: much lesse thy schoolemaster. Be a patterne of good manners, industry, curtesie, and obeying thy Master unto all in the Shoole. So shall thy praise be great, and thy profit greater.” 
William Fiston, The Schoole of Good Manners

Also: yield not to the temptations of Facebook during thy classes, do not rely overmuch on Wikipedia for thy term paper, and mock not thy Master on social media.

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.