Snippets 168. In 1903 a book of useful household advice was published in Australia, How to Make and Save Money. These kinds of books are always interesting to look at to see how things have changed, and often the advice will make you cringe. For example, the following are a couple of quotes concerning problematic teeth. Do not try them at home:
To make Brown Teeth White. Apply carefully over the teeth a stick dipped in strong acetic or nitric acid, and immediately wash out the mouth with cold water. To make the teeth even, if irregular, draw a piece of fine string betwixt them.
To Cure Toothache. Take equal parts of camphor, sulphuric ether, ammonia, laudanum, tincture of cayenne, and one-eight part oil of olives. Mix well together, saturate with the liquid a small piece of cotton wool and apply to the cavity of the diseased tooth. The pain will cease instantly.
If you thought tooth hygiene was poorly understood a century ago, how about allergies? According to the author of How to Make and Save Money, if you were dairy intolerant you had simply brought it upon yourself:
Milk. This partakes both of animal and vegetable substances, and is a natural and wholesome food in its fluid state; and its productions of cheese and butter are among our best materials of diet. Those with whom milk disagrees are not in a healthy state; their stomachs reject milk chiefly because of irregularities in their mode of living.
The author also had very strong opinions about alcohol, and why it should be avoided:
Water Drinking. Some of the most hale and active men are mere water-drinkers. Webb, a noted pedestrian, never took even a drink of ale in his severe trials of active labour; perhaps he had reason to fear that if he tasted any strong liquor, the desire of excessive indulgence might have overcome his resolution. Many men have this unfortunate weakness, and to them “touch not — taste not” must be the strict rule, or they fall. Be this as it may regarding Mr. Webb, the following anecdote is told of him. He was one day recommending his system to a friend who loved strong drink, and pressing him to quit a course by which his health and intellect would be destroyed. The gentleman was so far convinced, that he declared he would leave off strong liquors by degrees. “By degrees!” said Mr. Webb, with warmth; “if you should unhappily fall into the fire, would you caution your servant to pull you out by degrees?” To say that water is not nourishing, and that wine and spirits and malt liquors are, is foolish; these excite and stimulate, but they do not truly nourish. They are sometimes useful as medicines, to assist digestion or refresh exhausted strength; but on the whole they cause infinitely more harm than good to the body.
Next week we will look at some useful notes on etiquette from the same book.
If you enjoyed this “snippet” please consider sharing on Facebook or Twitter, to help other people find and enjoy Windows into History. You can keep updated each time I post a new entry by clicking on the follow button on the right of the screen. I welcome any comments or suggestions, and will consider guest posts.