Friday, January 8, 2010

Paging Dr. Beeton

So apparently the answer to the question of "what now?" is "get sick." Or rather, stay sick. Never fully recovering from my flu bout over Christmas, I am sore-throated and stuffed up. Which freezing temperatures and lack of any physical activity don't seem to help. Luckily, Mrs. Beeton has an entire health section in her book, which may be of some limited help.

All I know is this cold is seriously putting a cramp in my housewifing style (who wants to brew with butter sauce or rend a fish into paste when they're ill?) Let's see what the Victorian doctor ordered.

To oppose cholera, there seems no surer or better means than cleanliness, sobriety, and judicious ventilation. Where there is dirt, that is the place for cholera; where windows and doors are kept most jealously shut, there cholera will find easiest entrance; and people who indulge in intemperate diet during the hot days of autumn are actually courting death.

Ok, so I don't have cholera. Which is actually caused by infected food and water. But sound advice indeed. I have been sober, partially clean, and without much ventilation. But I don't exactly want to fling open a window in January. So how else may I heal myself?

TO CURE A COLD.—Put a large teacupful of linseed, with 1/4 lb. of sun raisins and 2 oz. of stick liquorice, into 2 quarts of soft water, and let it simmer over a slow fire till reduced to one quart; add to it 1/4 lb. of pounded sugar-candy, a tablespoonful of old rum, and a tablespoonful of the best white-wine vinegar, or lemon-juice. The dose is half a pint, made warm, on going to bed; and a little may be taken whenever the cough is troublesome. The worst cold is generally cured by this remedy in two or three days; and, if taken in time, is considered infallible.

1. Aren't most coughs gone in two or three days? 2. More rum please.
Not wanting to drink melted candy, vinegar and raisins, as appetizing as that sounds, I could go for another proven (?) Beeton cure:

COLD ON THE CHEST.—A flannel dipped in boiling water, and sprinkled with turpentine, laid on the chest as quickly as possible, will relieve the most severe cold or hoarseness.

So I'm supposed to make my best flannel shirt and myself flammable? Maybe I would be better off just opening a window. Or claiming "hysteria."
"Yep, here's the seem to have a vagina where your penis should be."

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