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Practical Tips from Early Modern England

Want to know how to Kiss? Or how to get slim in just 14 days? Take a look at these ten tips from Early Modern England, part of the new book Ask the Past.

Practical Tips from Early Modern England

Elizabeth Archibald’s new book ‘Ask the Past: Pertinent and Impertinent Advice from Yesteryear’ takes a look at the advice given throughout history. Here are ten tips from Early Modern England.

How to Blow Your Nose

Blowing the nose. We must not blow our nose too lowde, nor open the hand-chercher at all to shew any nasty filthinesse, nor lay it to the cuppe where another meanes to drinke. ~ Thomas Gainsford, The Rich Cabinet (1616)

How to Slim Down in Fourteen Days

An excellent and approued thing to make them slender, that are grosse. Let them eat three or four cloues of Garlick, with as much of Bread and butter euery morning and euening, first and last, neyther eating nor drinking of three or four howers after their taking of it in the morning for the space of fouretene dayes at the least.: and drinke euery daye three good draftes of the decoction of Fennel, that is: of the water wherein Fennell is solde, and well streyne, fowretene daies after at the least, at morning, noone and night. I knewe a man that was maruelous grosse, and could not go a quarter of a myle, but was enforst to rest him a doosen tymes at the least; that with this medicine took away his grosnes, and after coulde journey verye well on foote. ~ Thomas Lupton, A Thousand Notable Things (1579)

How to Fatten Up

Take twelve or thirteen Lizards or neuts cut off their heads and tailes, boile them and let the water stand to cool, take of the grease mix it with wheaten flower, feed a Hen therewith toll shee be fat, then kil her and eat her; this often used will make you exceedingly fat, keep it for a rate and true secret. ~ Thomas Jeamson, Artificiall Embellishments (1665)

How to Tell Time

Another excellent Rule, to know the houre of the Day or Night at any time. If any two [or more] Parties be in company together, let one of them take something from the ground, (what they please) and give it to another Party standing by. Now, if the thing taken up hath growne, and may grow again, as Seeds, Hearbs, or the like, it is then 1, 4, 7 or 10 of the Clock., or very neare. If it did never grow, nor never shall, as Stones, metals, Pot-sheards, Glasse or such like, it is then 2, 5, 8 or 11 of the Clocke, or very neare. But if it hath growne, and well never grow again, as Sticks, Chips, Shels, or such like, it is then 3, 6, 9 or 12 of the clocke, or very neare. But remember this Caution. That both they that give the judgement, and they that taketh up the thing, doth not know what hourw it is before they try the Conceit. ~ John White, A Rich Cabinet (1658)

How to Avoid an Acquaintance

If a person desires to avoid a bowing acquaintance with person who has been properly introduced, he may do so by looking aside, or dropping the eyes as the person approaches, for if they eyes meet, there is no alternative, bow he must. ~ John H. Young , Our Deportment (1881)

How to Cure Pimples

To cure Redeness and fiery Pimples in the Face … you may spread on the visage the warm blood of a pigeon, pullet, or capon drawn newly from under their wings; let the blood lay on all night, in the morning wash it off with warm water, or the decoction of soap. ~ Thomas Jeamson, Artificiall Embellishments (1665)

How to Charm a Man

When you desire to make any one ‘love’ you with whom you meet, although not personally acquainted with him, you can very readily reach him and make him his acquaintance… Wherever or whenever you meet again, at the first opportunity grasp his hand in an earnest, sincere, and affectionate manner, observing at the same time the following important directions, viz: As you take his bare hand in yours, press your thumb gently, though firmly, between the bones of the thumb and the forefinger of his hand, and at the very instant when you press thus on the blood vessels (which you can before ascertain to pulsate) look at him earnestly and lovingly in the eyes, and send all your heart’s, mind’s, and soul’s strength into his organization, and he will be your friend. ~ The Ladies’ Book of Useful Information (1896)

How to Kiss

Some authors will have it, that a kiss is no kiss, or at best a half one, unless returned at the same time … it s signification is determined by the circumstances, the degree of warmth, the part, the time, and other particulars needless to enumerate. But of all kisses, the turtle-billing one is the most emphatic, but rarely used, where there is not full liberty to use every thing else. ~ A Dictionary of Love, with Notes (1777)

How to Wake or Sleep

To make one wake or sleep. You must cut dexterously the Head of a Toad, alive, and at once, and let it dry, in observing that one Eye be shut, and the other open; that which is found open makes one wake, and that shut causes Sleep, by carrying about one. ~ Nicholas Lemery, Modern Curiosities of Art and Nature (1685)

How to Spit

Spet not far off thee, nor behinde thee, but a-side, a little distant, and not right before thy companion: but if it be some grosse flegme, one ought if it may bee, tread upon it. Be-spet not the windowes in the streets, nor spet on the fire, nor on Bason, nor on any other place where the spettle cannot bee taken away, by putting thy foot thereon. ~ Francis Hawkins, Youths Behavior (1646)

See more at Ask the Past

Eiizabeth Archibald’s book Ask the Past: Pertinent and Impertinent Advice from Yesteryear has now been published by Hachette Books





Want to know how to garden with lobsters? How to sober up? Grow a beard? Or simply how to make a perfect omelet? Look no further. Rather, look backward.

Based on the popular blog, Ask the Past is full of the wisdom of the ages–as well as the fad diets, zany pickup lines, and bacon Band-Aids of the ages. Drawn from centuries of antique texts by historian and bibliophile Elizabeth P. Archibald, Ask the Past offers a delightful array of advice both wise and weird.

Whether it’s eighteenth-century bedbug advice (sprinkle bed with gunpowder and let smolder), budget fashion tips of the Middle Ages (save on the clothes, splurge on the purse) or a sixteenth-century primer on seduction (hint: do no pass gas), Ask the Past is a wildly entertaining guide to life from the people who lived it first.

You can learn more about the book Ask the Past: Pertinent and Impertinent Advice from Yesteryear from Hachette Books – Click here to visit their website

Elizabeth Archibald runs the popular blog Ask the Past – you can also follow her on Twitter @AskthePast or on her Facebook page.

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