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[-19-] THE LADY'S DRESSING ROOM
THE dressing-room of every well-bred woman should be both
elegant and comfortable in proportion to her fortune and position; it may be
simply comfortable if its owner cannot make it luxurious, but must be provided
with everything necessary for a careful toilette.
Under the heading "The Bath-Room" I shall describe a dressing-room which also contains baths; but at this moment I wish to speak of the dressing-room alone.
The great ladies of the eighteenth century, whose ablutions were some what restricted, employed Watteau, Boucher, [-20-] Fragonard, and others, to paint their dressing-rooms, wherein they received their friends while they were themselves being painted, powdered, and patched. In time present day no one would dream of exposing delicate fresco wall-paintings or beautiful ceilings to the hot vapour and damp which are necessitated by an abundant use of hot and cold water.
Some dressing-rooms have their walls entirely covered with tiles - blue, pink, or pale green. This tiling has the merit of being bright and clean, but the effect is a little cold to both sight and touch. Hangings are generally preferred; they should be in neutral tints or very undecided tones, so as not to clash with the colours of the dresses. Very often light or bright-coloured silks are covered over with tulle or muslin, so as to attenuate their vividness and at the same time preserve their texture from the effect of vapour.
Sometimes the walls are hung with [-21-] large-patterned cretonnes or coloured linens; but cotton or linen stuffs are always a little hard, and any very conspicuous pattern on the walls is apt to detract from the effect of the toilette, which should be the one thing to attract the eye when its wearer is in the room. Personally, I prefer a dressing-room to be hung with sky-blue or crocus-lilac under point d'esprit tulle. These hangings, which will form an admirable background to dresses of no matter what colour, should be ornamented with insertions of lace.
The floor should be covered with a pearl- grey carpet with a design of either roses or lilac. From the centre of the ceiling should hang a small lustre to hold candles; and care should be taken to place wide bobèches on these candles, so as to prevent any danger of the wax falling on the dresses.
One or two large windows should light this dressing-room. The ground-glass panes should have pretty designs on them; and double curtains, of silk and tulle, the latter [-22-] edged with lace, should drape them voluminously.
There must be two tables, opposite to each
other, of different dimensions, but the same shape. The larger table is meant
for minor ablutions, and on it should be placed a jug and basin, which should be
chosen with taste and care. The table is draped to match the walls; above it
should run a shelf, on which are placed the bottles for toilet waters and
vinegars, dentifrices and perfumes, the toilet bottle and glass, etc. At either
side of the basin should be placed the brush and soap trays, the sponges, etc.
The other table, which is smaller, bears the mirror, which should be framed in a ruche of satin and lace; the table itself is draped like its companion. As this table is meant for the operation of hair-dressing, everything necessary to that important art must be found upon it. The various boxes [-23-] for pins and hair-pins; a large casket, in which are placed the brushes and combs, whose elegance should be on a par with that of the rest of the room ; the bottles of perfume and of scented oil or pomades the powder boxes; the manicure case, etc., should all have their places on this table, at either side of which should be fixed a couple of tall candelabra.
The fireplace should, occupy the centre of the wall opposite the windows; a Dresden clock or a pretty bust in terra-cotta, with some vases of fresh flowers, is all that need be placed upon it. At one side of the fireplace should be placed a chaise-longue in blue or mauve damask, the pattern on it being in white; and here and there about the room a few arm-chairs and smaller ones of gilt cane will be found convenient.
At either side of the dressing-table there should be a wardrobe. One of these should have three mirrors in its doors, for the ordinary wardrobe with a single panel [-24-] of glass has been banished from all artistic bed-rooms and dressing-rooms. The side doors open at opposite angles, and thus form a triple-sided, full-length mirror, in which one can judge of the effect of both dress and coiffure from all points of view. The second wardrobe, which should be lacquered like its companion, has no mirror, its doors being painted with garlands of flowers. In it are placed the reserve stock of bran, starch, soaps, powder, creams, etc. etc.
No slop-buckets or water-cans should be seen, nor should any dresses or other paraphernalia be visible; everything of that kind should be hidden from sight in special closets or cupboards near at hand. If the dressing. room does not adjoin the bath-room, the tub, of which we shall speak farther on, should be brought each day into the dressing-room for the daily sponge bath, which replaces the larger bath one may have to go and take elsewhere, or which may be forbidden on account of health.
[-25-] A More Simple Dressing-Room.
A dressing-room, however, may be much more simple than this.
All excess of luxury may be suppressed without preventing a woman of taste from
making the little sanctuary of her charms both elegant and tasteful.
A pretty wall-paper should be chosen, and the floor covered with an oil-cloth. Drape the deal tables with wide flounces of cretonne edged with frills of the same material; cover the tables with linen toilet- cloths edged with deep thread lace, and on them place the washing utensils in bright coloured ware. If the tables are small, have shelves made-which you can cover in the same style as the tables - to accommodate the bottles and boxes, which should be chosen with care, to make up for their moderate price. If your mirror is somewhat ordinary, you can dissimulate its frame under a pleated frill, which you can fasten on with small tacks. You can ornament your [-26-] wardrobe yourself, painting and varnishing it to match the room, and to please your own individual fancy. The slop-buckets and the water-cans should be hidden under the flounces of the tables.
If it is necessary to keep your dresses, your band-boxes, your boots and shoes, etc., in your dressing-room, you should have some shelves placed across the end of the room at a sufficient height to allow you to hang your dresses from hooks. On these shelves you can put your boxes, parcels, etc.; the whole being hidden by curtains to match the draperies of the tables. These curtains should not be placed against the wall, as they would then reveal the outlines of all the things they are meant to hide. They should be hung from the ceiling, and enclose the shelves as in an alcove; behind them also may be placed the bath-tub, which is not usually exposed to view. The great matter in a dressing-room is to have one large enough to be comfortable.
[-27-] THE BATH-ROOM.
Its Arrangements and Appointments.
THE bath-room should be arranged according
to the pecuniary resources at one's disposal; but here, as everywhere else, one
should do one's best.
The millionaires of New York have sometimes bath-rooms worthy of Roman empresses. In Europe some very rich women, artists, and others whom it is unnecessary to mention, are particularly luxurious in everything that concerns the bath-room. The walls of these rooms are sometimes panelled with vari-coloured onyxes, framed in copper mouldings, which are polished every day. From the ceiling hang quaint chandeliers of rose or opalescent crystal; and a rich Oriental curtain, hanging from a golden rod, veils [-28-] the bath of rose-coloured marble. At the opposite side of the room is placed a couch covered with the skin of a Polar bear, whereon, clad in a luxurious peignoir, one reposes after the fatigues of the bath and the douche. In one corner, also screened from view by a silken curtain, are the various apparatus for douches, shower, wave, needle, or any other kind of spray bath which may be desired. In the opposite corner is placed the flat tub or sponge-bath in porcelain. This immense basin is accompanied by another one of smaller dimensions, and both are painted with designs of waterlilies and aquatic plants. Near each bath is handily placed taps for hot, cold, and tepid water; and on small shelves of marble all the articles one requires when bathing.
Utensils and Accessories.
When the bath-room has to serve at the
same time as a dressing-room, one must place therein a large wash-stand with a
[-29-] complete toilet set in porcelain ware or silver, with all the minor
articles to match. There must, of course, be also the dressing- table, which may
be ornamented according to the taste of the presiding divinity. Everything
placed upon it-brushes, combs, boxes, scent-bottles, etc.-should be chosen with
artistic taste. One must not forget to mention the large wardrobe, with its
three doors of plate-glass mirror, such as I have already mentioned. Therein are
placed the bath-linen, the flesh-gloves, loofahs, and all the arsenal of
feminine coquetry-creams, cosmetics, perfumes, etc. etc.-which should be hidden
from every eye, as no one likes to be suspected of adventitious aids. One should
not be able to see in this dressing-room and bath-room combined either trinkets,
dresses, laces, or ribbons. Jewels and trinkets, as well as valuable laces,
should be kept in the bed-room, and all dresses put out of sight in wardrobes or
In many houses, however, the bath-room [-30-] is used by all the members of the family, and can therefore not be treated as a dressing-room. Under such circumstances it is not difficult to arrange a bath-room from which all unnecessary luxury may be banished while preserving every necessary comfort.
It is best to paint the walls in oil colour - with an imitation of marble, if you can get it well done. The floor should be covered with linoleum, and the ground-glass windows should have the family monogram engraved in the centre. The various kinds of baths should be ranged round the wall: sitz-baths, sponge-baths, and the smaller baths for children. The taps of hot and cold water should be placed over the large bath, unless the water for it. is heated by means of a "geyser"; and there should also be a porcelain sink, into which the smaller baths can be emptied. Before each bath, large or small, should be placed a mat in cut-out leather, or, what is perhaps [-31-] better, in cork, whereon the bather may stand; and near each bath, at a convenient level, shelves should be fastened to the wall to carry the necessary soaps and sponges.
In many bath-rooms where the water is heated in the room itself by means of some gas apparatus, the heater should contain a linen-box, for it is best to wrap oneself in hot linen on leaving a bath. The bath-heater must have a pipe leading into the outer air, to obviate the possibility of noxious fumes ; and with this precaution it is a useful thing, as it maintains the temperature in the bath-room.
A wardrobe should contain a supply of bath-linen, fine towels, Turkish towels, bath-sheets, etc.; herein are also placed on the shelves the various kinds of soaps, the boxes of starch, the bags of bran, the perfumes, almond paste, cold creams, carbonate of soda, etc. etc. In one corner of the room should be placed the hand-lamp and aromatic perfume-box which are some-[-32-]times used in cases of illness for sweating- baths. There are certain kinds of portable apparatus for vapour-baths which can, if desired, be placed in the same room. These apparatus, and those for shower and "rain" baths, are generally hidden behind a curtain, which divides them off from the rest of the room.
Besides the actual baths, there should be in the bath-room a couch or ottoman, whereon to repose after the bath; a little table, in case one would wish to have a cup of tea; some chairs; and enough towel- horses whereon to lay out both the warm dry linen before the bath, as well as the wet linen after. It is unnecessary to place a dressing-table in such a bath-room as this : one returns to one's bed-room or dressing-room to complete one's toilette.
Regular bathing should enter into the
habits of all classes of society. If it is [-33-] absolutely impossible to immerse
oneself completely every day in a large bath, or if it is forbidden by the
doctor, a sponge-bath may be considered sufficient for the needs of cleanliness
The human skin is a complicated network, whose meshes it is necessary to keep free and open, so that the body may be enabled through them to eliminate the internal impurities, from which it is bound to free itself, under pain of sickness, suffering, and possible death. The healthy action of the pores of the skin is stimulated by the bath, especially if it is followed by friction with a flesh-glove or a rough towel. One can dispense with massage if one objects to be manipulated by a strange hand. Both fevers and contagious maladies of many kinds are often avoided by such simple precautions as these.
In cases of internal inflammation and congestion, and of bilious colic, there is no more certain remedy than a hot bath. It [-34-] is also known to have worked surprising cures in cases of obstinate constipation. Anyone who is afraid of having caught a contagious malady should immediately have recourse to a hot bath, as it is quite possible that the infection may make its way out of the body through the pores. Of course, particular care would be needed not to take a chill on leaving the bath.
Cleanliness of the skin has a great effect in the proper assimilation of nourishment by the body; and it has even been recognised that well-washed pigs yield superior meat to those that are allowed to indulge their propensities for wallowing in the mire. It is therefore hardly necessary to repeat that the salutary expulsion which the body accomplishes through the skin, teaches the necessity of keeping the pores open by absolute cleanliness, the smallest particle of grime or the finest dust being sufficient to block the tiny openings with which Nature has so admirably endowed the cuticle.
[-35-] Pitiful Middle Ages that ignored the use of soap and water! "A thousand years without a bath!" cries Michelet in one of his historical works. It is not surprising that plagues and pestilences ravaged poor humanity in those days. Even in the time of Henri IV. the use of the bath must still have been sufficiently rare, when one remembers the naif astonishment of a grand seigneur of the period who asked, "Why should one wash one's hands when one does not wash one's feet?"
Even at the Court of Le Roi Soleil the fair ladies were yet so neglectful on this point that one shudders with disgust when one reads about their habits; and yet in all ages les grandes coquettes have recognised the good effects of baths and ablutions. Isabel of Bavaria, having heard that Poppaea, wife of Nero, used to fill her bath of porphyry with asses' milk and the juice of strawberries, determined not to be behindhand in similar researches. Even [-36-] in those days marjoram was recommended, and justly so, for its refreshing effect upon the skin; so the spouse of Charles VII. had enormous decoctions of this plant prepared, in which to bathe.
It is on record that Anne Boleyn took baths, a fact which is more or less supported by the story of certain of the courtiers, who, by way of flattery, drank her health in part of' the water wherein she had bathed. Diane de Poietiers bathed every morning in a bath of rain-water.
In the eighteenth century the great ladies became fanciful in the matter of baths, and had them concocted, like Poppaea, of asses' milk; of eau de mouron, like Isabel; of milk of almonds; of eau de chair, or weak veal-broth; of water distilled from honey and roses; of melon-juice; of green-barley water; of linseed- water, to which was added balm of Mecca, rendered soluble with the yolk of an egg. All these decoctions were undoubtedly [-37-] good for the skin, but the bath for cleansing purposes does not need so much preparation.
The Dauphine Marie Antoinette "invented for her demi-bain," says a writer of· her time, "a half-bath which yet bears her name." It was a deep basin of oblong shape, mounted in a wooden frame supported on legs, the back of the frame being raised and stuffed like the back of an armchair. This shape is more conveniently imitated in zinc at present. For her large baths the Princess had a decoction prepared of serpolet, laurel leaves, wild thyme, and marjoram, to which was added a little sea-salt. The prescription for these baths was made by Fagon, chief physician to Louis XIV., who also desired that they should be taken cold in winter and tepid in summer, so as to balance the external temperature with the sensibility of the epidermis.
[-38-] Hot, Cold, and Sponge Baths.
There are many people who immerse
themselves every day for a few instants in a cold bath; one must be very strong
to support this form of bath, and it is perhaps wiser not to try it without
having consulted a doctor. Even when the cold bath is allowed, it is best to
take only one plunge and come out at once. The water ought to be about 50º to
600º Fahrenheit, and a good rubbing is indispensable after a bath of this kind.
The hot bath is good for those who are subject to a rush of blood to the head. Its temperature should not exceed 100º.
The tepid bath is the one most used, and its temperature may range from 68º to 96º. It is a mistake to remain too long in a tepid bath; thirty minutes is the maximum time one should stay therein, and it is perhaps best to leave it after a quarter of an hour, unless of course medical orders decide otherwise.
[-39-] If it is impossible, for various reasons, to have a large bath every day, a sponge bath will replace it conveniently, and is sufficient for the necessities of health and cleanliness. One should begin by taking a sponge bath of tepid water, and then by degrees one can lower the temperature of the water until at last the daily tub is a cold one. In all cases, however, the bath-room should be slightly warmed in winter, spring, and autumn; and care should be taken that the towels are warm and dry. People with delicate lungs should remain faithful to the warm bath. A good rubbing is a necessity after all and every bath; but of that we shall speak farther on, as well as of massaGe. It is often a good thing to take a little air and exercise after the bath, but only on condition of walking very fast. Never take a bath, or in any way immerse yourself in water, immediately after having eaten; a bath would be distinctly dangerous, and even minor ablutions are apt to trouble the [-40-] digestion. One should allow three hours to elapse between any meal at all copious and a bath.
When soap is used in a large bath, it should be used towards the end of the time of immersion, and should be immediately washed off with clear water. In a sponge bath this is an easy matter, as the fresh water is ready to hand in a large basin alongside of the bath. The soap chosen should be white and very pure, and little, if at all, perfumed. It seems almost superfluous to say that it is contrary to cleanliness and hygiene that two people should bathe in the same water, no matter how healthy they may be; but as some fond mothers have a habit of taking their little ones into the bath with them, it is as well to warn them that the delicate skin of babies is often apt to suffer from such a custom.
[-41-] Soothing and Refreshing Baths.
It is unnecessary here to speak of Russian
or Turkish baths, nor even of vapour baths. These last belong properly to the
domain of the doctor, who can order or administer them when necessary. The
others demand an installation which it is almost impossible to have at home,
even when expense is no object.
But there are other baths whose soothing properties may be recommended without having recourse to a doctor. In spring it is best to take one's bath at night, just before going to bed, so as to avoid all possibility of a chill, which is more dangerous at that time of year than any other, and also so that the skin may benefit by the moist warmth which it will thus be able to keep for several hours after having left the water. A delicious bath for this season can be prepared with cowslips or wild primroses. Three handfuls of these flowers, [-42-] freshly gathered, should be thrown into the bath, which thus becomes not only delight. fully perfumed, but extremely calming to the nerves by the virtue in the sweet golden petals.
The bath of strawberries and raspberries which Madame Tallien took every morning, as we are told by the gossips of her time, was prepared in the following manner:- Twenty pounds of strawberries and two of raspberries were crushed and thrown into the bath, from which the bather emerged with a skin freshly perfumed, soft as velvet, and tinged with a delicate pink.
A bath of lime-flowers (also a delightful perfume) is particularly soothing to over-excited nerves. A decoction of spinach, if a sufficient quantity were obtained, would make an excellent bath for the skin. Here, however, is a recipe equally good for rendering the skin fresh and delicate :-Sixty grammes of glycerine and one hundred grammes of rose-water, mixed with two quarts of water, [-43-] are added to the bath five minutes before using it. Some women mix almond-paste with their bath, and perfume it with violet; others prefer oatmeal and orange-flower water; others, again, prefer tincture of benzoin, which gives the water a milky appearance. Nothing is better for the skin than a bran bath. Two pounds of bran, placed in a muslin bag, are allowed to soak in a small quantity of water for three hours before the bath, to which it is added, is required. A bath of aromatic salts is easily prepared. Pound into powder some carbonate of soda and sprinkle it with some aromatic essences (of which only a small quantity is needed). These aromatic essences can be prepared beforehand, according to the following recipe
Essence of fine lavender ... 15 grammes
Essence of rosemary ... 10 grammes
Essence of eucalyptus ... 5 grammes
Carbonate of soda crystals ... 600 grammes
Pound the crystals, sprinkle and mix them [-44 -] with the
essences) and keep them in a well-stoppered bottle. For a large bath, 315
grammes of this aromatic salt will be required; for a basin, a teaspoonful to a
quart of water.
For a tonic and refreshing effect upon the skin the aromatic bath is one of the best: 500 grammes of the various aromatic plants enumerated in Fagon's recipe for Marie Antoinette's bath (of which I have already spoken) should be allowed to infuse for an hour in three quarts of boiling water; the water should then be strained, and added to the bath. Another bath which is both strengthening and soothing is thus composed:- Dissolve in the bath half a pound of crystals of carbonate of soda, two handfuls of powdered starch, and a teaspoonful of essence of rosemary; the temperature of the bath should be 36º to 37º C., and the immersion should last from fifteen to twenty minutes.
When the nervous system is much [-45-] exhausted, the following bath will be found useful, viz., an ounce of ammonia to a bucket of water. In a bath of this kind the flesh becomes as firm and smooth as marble, and the skin is purified in the most perfect way. It would be unkind to finish this section on baths without remembering those who suffer from rheumatism, to whom I can recommend the following bath as likely to ease them from their pain. A concentrated emulsion should be made with 200 grammes of soft soap and 200 grammes of essence of turpentine; it should be well shaken together, until the mixture is in a lather. For a bath, take half this emulsion, which has an agreeable smell of pine when mixed with the water. After five minutes' immersion in a warm bath thus prepared, the patient is aware of a distinct diminution of pain, and a pleasant warmth spreads all over the body. At the end of a quarter of an hour he feels a slight pricking sensation, which is not at all unpleasant; [-46-] and he should then leave the bath, and get straight into bed, where lie will at once fall asleep; on waking in the morning he will find his pain greatly alleviated.
Massage and Rubbings.
Massage comes from the Greek word masso, "I knead." The masseur or masseuse kneads with the hands all the muscular parts of the body, works the articulations to make them supple, and excites the vitality of the skin. This custom has come to us from the East, where it has been known since the days of antiquity. The Romans employed it greatly. In the Russian form of massage, the hand of the operator is covered with a well-soaped glove; and sometimes the kneading of the body is followed by a slight flagellation with birch twigs. Massage must follow the bath, and not precede it. When the skin is moist with water or vapour, it is naturally more supple and flexible, and is [-47-] therefore more easily kneaded. The patient feels a great fatigue at the end of the operation, but this is soon followed by a sense of well-being and vivacity. Care should be taken, however, not to make an abuse of massage - for if it is over-done, its effects are exhausting rather than strengthening; but in certain climates, and in certain maladies, there is no doubt it is very beneficial. In many cases judicious rubbings are an excellent substitute for massage, and are rendered all the more easy by the various modern inventions which help one to apply friction to the back and sides. It is best to use for these frictions a flesh-glove or a broad band made of horse-hair, coarse wool, or rough linen. It is called a "dry-rubbing" when applied alone. Nothing is better, after a foot-bath or a sponge-bath, than a vigorous rubbing; it increases the force and vigour of the body, benefits the general health, and consequently is an admirable [-48-] aid to beauty. After the dry-rubbing, all the body should be rubbed with a piece or a band of flannel dipped in toilet-vinegar or perfume.
Sea-Bathing - River-Bathing.
It is not well to take a sea-bath either
the day of, nor the day after, one's arrival at a watering-place. It is best to
exclude from one's diet wine, coffee, and spirits, and to allow one's
organisation time to absorb the ozone of the salt sea-air. The best moment for a
bath is high tide: at low tide, or when the tide is coming in or going out,
there are certain drawbacks which it would take too long to explain here. One
should never enter the sea unless three hours have elapsed since the last meal,
so that the digestive organs may be in complete repose.
It is unwise to bathe if one happens to be very much excited, if one is suffering from any acute or chronic malady, if one [-49-] has had a sleepless night, or if one has been undergoing any violent exercise. One should undress slowly, and, once in one's bathing costume, and wrapped in a cloak, it is a good thing to walk a little on the beach, so that the body may be warmed by exercise, and therefore better able to resist the shock on entering the cold water. Delicate women and children who suffer from cold feet even in summer, would do well to take off their sandals for a few minutes before entering the sea, so as to warm their feet and ankles on the sun-baked sand; and such persons will find it is advisable to take a few drops of Malaga or port before entering the sea.
It is best to go rapidly into the water, so that the whole body may be immersed in as short a time as possible, care being taken, however, to cover up the hair carefully, as there is nothing so disastrous in effect to a woman's hair as sea-water. Unless one is strong, the bath should be a [-50-] short one, and a few minutes' immersion is sufficient. On leaving the water, one should again be wrapped up in one's cloak and return slowly to one's cabin, where it is best to stand in a pan of warm water while one is drying one's body. If the hair is damp, it should be rubbed dry at once, and then, if necessary, allowed to float loosely on the shoulders for half an hour. Open-air exercise should be considered a necessity after a sea-bath.
As to children, it is extremely dangerous to bathe them in the sea before they are at least two years old; and even at that age, if the waves frighten them, they should not be plunged in the water. A little baby has not sufficient nervous force for the necessary vigorous reaction, without which immersion is harmful; his little body would be chilled, and lie would be exposed to the danger of internal convulsions. A child should never be forced to undergo the shock of a wave if he is frightened thereby, as nothing is more [-51-] unwholesome than to bathe during violent emotion; and there is no more violent emotion than terror: It is best, therefore, to give him a salt-water bath at home, and then let him run and roll on the sand and shingle, and paddle with his little feet in the sea-pools; he will thus take a bath of sunshine and salt sea-air, which will probably be much better for him, and lie will thus get accustomed little by little to the sound and the force of the waves, whose attraction lie will not long resist, if he is not frightened at the outset.
River-bathing has many attractions for young and vigorous persons, and is very strengthening to delicate individuals who venture on it under proper conditions. Even when strong and vigorous, it is not well to unduly prolong a fresh-water bath, as anything of fatigue is likely to bring on cramp, than which there is nothing more dangerous. One should not embark on this sport without being well acquainted with [-52-] the currents of the river, and one can always find some intelligent native to give one the necessary indications.
River-bathing should be surrounded with exactly the same precautions as sea-bathing. After a storm one should abstain from the bath, as the water of the river will be soiled and muddy; and it is as well also not to bathe on the chilly rainy days with which we are unfortunately familiar even in summer.
Hydropathy and Hydropathic Appliances.
Hydropathy is a system of treatment of maladies (especially
chronic ones) by the exclusive use of cold water in various forms Baths and douches
of course form part of it; and besides these, the sick person is undressed,
wrapped up in blankets on a couch, and made to drink innumerable glasses of cold
water. Perspiration naturally follows, and he is then given either a cold bath
or is enveloped in damp sheets. It is unwise, [-53-] however, to attempt this
method of cold applications within and without, unless under the advice of a
competent doctor, this treatment requiring a considerable amount of practical
experience. Above all, the water should be of a uniform temperature-not more
than 46ºF., nor less than 43º; the exact temperature is 46º. It is not by any
means easy to obtain this undeviating, unvarying temperature of 46º; but one
can always find it at the hydropathic establishment of Divonne, which is
situated between the mountains of the Jura and the Lake of Geneva. There several
springs unite and form a torrent, which in its turn joins that of the mountain.
It is this water which is used for the baths and for all the different methods
of treatment of the establishment. After a few baths, which are followed by
vigorous rubbings, one feels a sensation of warmth and comfort, a sort of
expansion of the body, wherein the vital principle seems to [-54-] be born anew.
The temperature of the water at 46º seems icy to the body, whose warmth is
98º; and on the first plunge into the bath one can hardly tell whether the
water is icy cold or scalding hot, and one has a stinging sensation as if one
were whipped with nettles. The immersion should only last two minutes, and on
leaving the water one should be well rubbed down with some rough woollen stuff.
Pleasant warmth soon returns, and remains if one takes some exercise, or if one
is wrapped up in blankets.
One need not be afraid of catching cold by the sudden plunge into icy water the very moment one leaves one's bed. The body has not time to lose its natural warmth, and the violent shock of the cold water only gives a stinging, prickling sensation, which brings the blood almost immediately in a rush to the surface, and obviates all possibility of chill. Not only is there no risk of catching cold, but very [-55-] often one can stop and cure a cold at the beginning by the use of hydropathy.
Though this cold - water treatment sounds very alarming, most people, even delicate women, who try it, become passionately attached to it, and have the necessary apparatus established in their own houses. One of the most appreciated forms of douche is that which is called the "crinoline," a circular one, as its name implies, which brings a fine rain to bear on the whole body at the same time, and about which the lady habituées of Divonne express themselves in enthusiastic terms. In fact, all these different forms of cold-water treatment are liked by women in general, on account of the benefit their nerves derive from their calming and strengthening effects.
Another method is called "packing," and thoroughly deserves its name. The patient is made up like a parcel-first in a wet sheet, over which are placed two woollen blankets, a quilt, and an eider-[-56-]down counterpane. These are wrapped tightly round the body of the patient, who, thus bound hand and foot like a mummy, is very soon in a state of profuse perspiration. The coverings are then removed, and the patient plunged in the cold bath. The effect is prompt, soothing, and beneficial.
There is no denying that the science of medicine has found in hydropathy a puissant ally wherewith to vanquish chronic maladies, which before its discovery were often declared incurable. Feminine coquetry has also become aware of the beneficial effect of the cold-water treatment, for the brusque transitions of temperature, followed by the reactions which bring back the warmth to the surface of the body, revive the functions of the skin, strengthen the muscles, and soothe the nerves, all of which result in an increase of beauty in the feminine patient. Of course, to obtain the full benefit of hydropathic treatment, it is necessary to go [-57-] to some such establishment as that at Divonne; but there are many forms of hydropathic apparatus which it is quite easy to establish in one's own house. Baths, douches, needle-baths, "packing," rubbing, and massage- all these are perfectly possible to attain at home with a certain amount of fitting-up. This is why mention has been made of hydropathic apparatus when speaking of the bath-room. There are three kinds of douches ascending, descending, and horizontal. In the two latter the reservoir must be placed at a fair height, and the pipe should be of a good size, so that the column of water may be strong and voluminous. These are the more common forms of douches. In the ascending douche the reservoir is placed at a lower level, and the pipe should be small in diameter.
[-58-] How to Clean Sponges.
Nothing is so horrible and disgusting as a sponge that
looks grey and dingy, even if it be not really dirty.
A sponge in this state should be steeped in milk for twelve hours. After this time rinse it in cold water, and it will be as good as new, minus the expense. Lemon-juice is also excellent for whitening a sponge.
Sponges always become greasy and sticky at last, and no amount of soap and water will make them fit to use when they get into this state. Hydrochloric acid must then be used, and a teaspoonful of this in a pint of water will be enough to take out the grease and clean the sponge. One may also have recourse at first to carbonate of soda, which sometimes proves sufficient. These are small but very important details, over which the mistress of the house should herself keep watch, for servants think them unworthy of their attention.
[nb. grey numbers in brackets indicate page number, (ie. where new page begins), ed.]