Friday, September 25, 2015

How to Eat in Autumn, 1600

Later, old cheese.
The Grete Herball (1529), Wellcome Library
"Autumne beginneth, when the sunne entreth the first degree of Libra, which is the thirteenth day of September. Then it is Aequinoctiall, meteors are seene, the times do alter, the aire waxeth cold, the leaves do fall, corne is reaped, the earth loseth hir beautie, and melancholy is ingendered. For which cause, such things as breede melancholy are to bee avoyded, as feare, care, beanes, old cheese, salt beefe, broath of colewoorts, & such like. You may safely eate mutton, lambe, pigges, and young pullets. Take heed of the morning & evening cold." 
William Vaughan, Naturall and Artificial Directions for Health 
The key to a happy autumn? Just avoid fear and cabbage broth.

Friday, September 18, 2015

How to Shower, 1867

An Encyclopaedia of Domestic Economy, 1844
"The shower bath, notwithstanding the abuse in its application and the consequent injury, is, when properly applied, one of the best baths ever employed... Begin with the water tepid, then change to cool, followed by a dash of cold, is the best plan for most bathers. Arrange the water at the right temperature, then let it fall first upon the hands and arms, rubbing them vigorously; then upon the feet and legs, then the neck, back and chest, rubbing each part while the water falls upon it; then turning the body, alternately exposing different parts to the falling shower for two or three minutes... As a general rule the cold water should not fall on the top of the head, nor even the tepid water, if the hair is long and heavy; but if it is short, and the bather in good health, it is a great luxury to let the tepid or cool water come trickling down over the head, face and entire body... The shower bath... is useful for cleanliness, for increasing the external circulation, and for removing internal congestion and inflammation... for those in a vigorous state of health it is a decided luxury to take it, cold, as a regular morning bath."  
E. P. Miller, "How to Bathe," Herald of Health
Nothing says "great luxury" like two or three minutes of cold water on your head.

Monday, August 31, 2015

How to Succeed at University, 1471

Laurentius de Voltolina, The Classroom of Henricus de Alemannia
Liber ethicorum (c. 1360-90), Kupferstichkabinett Berlin
"Anyone attending any lecture must... have his own copy of the reading or a borrowed copy for the time of the lecture (two or three students at most may share the same copy) and, without a reasonable cause, except in the case of a legitimate impediment, he must miss no lecture that he was supposed to hear, or exercise which he was supposed to attend, from the third lecture or exercise after the beginning of the book, and as much as he is able, he must remain from the beginning to the end of the lecture or exercise, nor may he schedule two lectures or exercises at the same hour. 
However many times he has missed an exercise or lecture, or has not remained from the beginning to the end, and all his other failings, he must note down in the outline of his acts, to be presented at the time of the dispensation, along with the excuse (if he has any), and he must write and explain and seek a dispensation, so that according to the greater or smaller number of his negligences and failings, and excuses (if he has any), the professors will be able to deliberate and decide whether he deserves a dispensation." 
Leipzig university statute, 1471
Whatever the excuse (if he has any), I guarantee those profs have heard it before.

(Also, don't torment the freshmen.)

Friday, August 28, 2015

How to Get Rid of Stinging Insects, 1633

Francesco Stelluti, Persio (1630)
University of Oklahoma
"The Generall Method of Preventing, and Curing all venemous Stingings and Bitings. Prevention is onely two wayes: By having an eye to all places where they are likely to be abroad: And by driving them from the place of a mans habitation. All venomous Creatures are driven from the house by these fumes and washings following. Fume your roomes with the smoake of Harts-horne shavings, burnt in a chafing-dish or firepanne: or the shavings of sheepes hoofes: or the parings of old shooes. Wash the walls with the Gaule of any beast boyled a little in water." 
Stephen Bradwell, Helps for Suddain Accidents Endangering Life
Got an infestation? Time to light the old-shoe incense. (Simply whacking the insects with your old shoes is also effective.)

Friday, August 21, 2015

How to Train for Walking, 1813

Captain Barclay,
Celebrated Pedestrian
"When the object in view is the accomplishment of a pedestrian match, his regular exercise may be from twenty to twenty-four miles a day. He must rise at five in the morning, run half a mile at the top of his speed up-hill, and then walk six miles at a moderate pace, coming in about seven to breakfast, which should consist of beef-steaks or mutton-chops under-done, with stale bread and old beer. After breakfast, he must again walk six miles at a moderate pace, and at twelve lie down in bed without his clothes for half an hour. On getting up, he must walk four miles, and return by four to dinner, which should also be beef-steaks or mutton-chops, with bread and beer as at breakfast. Immediately after dinner, he must resume his exercise by running half a mile at the top of his speed, and walking six miles at a moderate pace. He takes no more exercise that day, but retires to bed about eight, and next morning proceeds in the same manner.

After having gone on in this regular course for three or four weeks, the pedestrian must take a four-mile sweat, which is produced by running four miles, in flannel, at the top of his speed... He is then put to bed in his flannels, and being covered with six or eight pairs of blankets, and a feather-bed, must remain in this state from twenty-five to thirty minutes, when he is taken out and rubbed perfectly dry. Being then well wrapt in his great coat, he walks out gently for two miles, and returns to breakfast, which, on such occasions should consist of a roasted fowl. He afterwards proceeds with his usual exercise."
Walter Thom, Pedestrianism; Or, an Account of the Performances of Celebrated Pedestrians 
Looking for a new competitive sport? Try pedestrianism: all the mania and discomfort of long-distance running, without all the actual running.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

How to Drive an Electric Car, 1896

"Such a motor is odorless, almost without vibration, and is practically noiseless. It can run with great speed and climb almost any hill road so long as it is smooth... When the battery is empty it may be recharged again at electrical stations maintained for the purpose, after which the carriage is ready for its journey once more... Aside from the device for supplying power to the wheels, there are numerous others for guiding and controlling the machine when it is under way. Near the seat of the driver are a number of switches and levers, which to one just learning how they operate are rather bewildering... The driver must keep his eyes wide open and both his feet and hands busy. With his left hand he grasps the power lever which controls the speed, while with the right he manages the steering lever. He has one heel all the time on an emergency switch that cuts off the current, and at the same time must ring a gong to warn people of the approach of his pneumatic-tired conveyance. With the other foot he manages a reversing-switch that will back the carriage, while with his toes he applies a quick brake. When he wishes to turn on the lights he presses a button under the seat. So it may be seen that he is rather busy, and can never go to sleep and let the old horse carry him home."
Henry Davenport Northrop, The Gem Cyclopedia of Universal Knowledge
On second thought, just forget all the levers and focus on ringing the gong very loudly.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How to Use Chocolate, 1672

Nicolas de Blegny, Le bon usage du thé, du caffé,
et du chocolat
“It revives the drooping spirits, and chears those that are ready to faint; expelling sorrow, trouble, care, and all perturbations of the minde; it is an Ambrosia: And finally, in a word, it cannot be too much praised… [It] keepeth the body fat and plump; and also preserveth the countenance fresh and fair… and certain it is, that a man may live longer with it, then with any kinde of Wine whatsoever... It is a great Cordial... strengthening the natural heat in all parts, and thereby prolonging life; for it is by an easie transmutation converted into blood. It preserveth in vigour the principal faculties, enabling men to prosecute their Studies and tedious exercises, expelling winde, opening obstructions… and is most excellent against Hypochondriack melancholy.” 
William Hughes, The American Physitian
Revives drooping spirits? Check. Prolongs life? Check. Turns into blood? Apparently.