The Modern Victorian Farm

Join me on my merry adventures in researching Victorian farms. For the next three posts, I’ve excerpted from The Farm Homesteads of England: A Collection of Plans of English Homesteads Existing in Different Parts of the Country, Carefully Selected from the Most Approved Specimens of Farm Architecture, to Illustrate the Accommodation Required Under Various Modes of Husbandry, with a Digest of the Leading Principles Recognised in the Construction and Arrangement of the Buildings. This book was published in 1865 and includes blueprints (pictures! pictures!) of farmyards, farmhouses, and laborer’s cottages. Great geeky historical fun.

The Woodhouse Farm

This Farm the property of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of England and Wales is distant about two miles from the city of Ely. It is in the occupation of the executors of the late Mr. Allden. The rainfall of the district in inches is 21.95.

Description of the Homestead.—This Homestead was erected in the years 1861 and 1862, from designs by Mr. R. Wright, of Norwich, at a cost of about £2800, exclusive of the carriage of materials and the formation of roads and approaches. Mr. Freeman, of Ely, was the builder. It is occupied in conjunction with a set of outlying old Buildings. The Yards, Sheds, and Stalls of the new Buildings were designed for the accommodation of 100 head of cattle, of different ages; but the practice has been to feed only 50 large beasts in them, of which 20 are tied up and fatted with roots, chaff, and cake in the stalls, and the remaining 30 run loose in the yards. When the stalled beasts are considered fat they are sold, and their places are filled up by the best beasts from the yards.

From 50 to 70 head of growing stock are kept during the winter at the outlying Buildings. These are grazed during the summer upon about 60 acres of low meadow land, or “washes,” which do not belong to the Farm, but form a separate hiring, on which the beasts remain from May to Michaelmas, when they are removed to the highland pasture, and there fed with hay, early turnips, and sometimes with 2 or 3 lbs. of cake each. They are then put into the stalls or yards, and prepared for market as before stated.

Woodhouse Farm

There is Stabling for about 35 working horses and 8 saddle or harness horses; besides a Hospital.

 The Buildings were designed with a view of employing a fixed 10 horse power steam engine; but up to this time a portable engine has been adopted by the tenants to work their chaff and turnip cutter, corn and cake crushers, and other machinery.

The thrashing floor, in the central portion of the Barn, is paved with York flags and the two ends are boarded.

The Piggeries, and the cake and root stores, are paved with bricks but an alteration to asphalte is in contemplation as preferable.

The Granary occupies the upper story of the west end of the barn and is supported on iron columns. In it a crane is fixed by which the corn is raised in sacks from the floor beneath.

A Liquid manure tank is sunk in the pig yard, and the manure is pumped thence and distributed over the grass land by means of an iron cart.

The Water from the roofs is preserved in a tank to which a large force pump is attached to raise it into a cistern fixed on the tie beams of a shed, whence it is carried by means of pipes to the Buildings. The supply thus obtained is found sufficient.

Woodhouse Farm

Description of the Farm.—The Farm consists of 980 acres of which 170 are meadow and pasture land and the remaining 810 are arable. The arable land is of two sorts highland (so called in contradistinction to the fen land), of which there are 270 acres, and fen land amounting to 540 acres. The highland is a good arable loam, with a subsoil of boulder clay; and it is cultivated in a five-course rotation, which though somewhat varying with circumstance may be quoted as follows: 1st turnips and mangolds; 2nd oats, wheat ,and barley; 3rd, clover, peas and beans; 4th wheat; 5th, oats, beans, and barley. The fen land is a black vegetable soil, resting on a soft blue clay. This land is drained, and the water raised by a private steam-engine of 20 horse power, and a water wheel of a kind common in the Fens. Upon this description of soil the rotation generally adopted is as follows: 1st year, coleworts, mangolds, and kohl rabi; 2nd, oats, and barley; 3rd, wheat; 4th, clover, beans, and mustard; 5th, wheat.  Of the roots grown on the fallows, two thirds are consumed on the land, and the remaining one third is taken to the store beasts at the Buildings.

 About 300 half-bred ewes form the breeding flock the lambs are sold as soon as they are weaned. Up to Christmas the ewes are kept on the turnips, and subsequently on the kohl rabi in the day, and in the fold-yard on hay and straw chaff at night. In addition to an ewe flock, from 300 to 400 hoggets are bought in April, and fattened on the seeds, with cake. The latter are sold off as they become fat, and others are bought to fill their place until the clover hay is consumed; the whole are disposed of by the end of March.

Sanction Hill Farm

This Farm belongs to its present occupier, John Wells, Esq., of Booth Ferry House, Howden. It is situated on the sides of a deep and narrow valley in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The average annual rainfall of the district is in inches 23.12.

Sanction Hill Farm

Description of the Homestead.—These Buildings were erected from the designs of Mr. Wells, during the years 1860, 1861, and 1862. By lengthening the period of operation, the haulage of materials and the levelling of the site were performed at such seasons as did not interfere with the regular working of the farm. The Cost of the Buildings in their completed state, including the Farm-house and Labourers’ cottages, was nearly £3900. This outlay, inclusive of the levellings and of the cartage of materials, was increased by the difficulties of the site, which involved more than ordinary labour in excavating and raising the ground to secure a level base.

The Buildings are of brick, and are slated; the bricks being made upon the estate in “force fire kilns” at a cost of fourteen shillings per thousand.

The present Stables accommodate 12 draught and 2 riding horses ; and there are, besides, 6 Loose-Boxes.

Accommodation, independent of the large Fold-Yard on the West, is provided for 40 head of cattle of different ages, and for 20 pigs.

Four cows only are kept, which are fed at the head, from a passage communicating with the root-house.

The principal Barn is divided into two compartments or floors. On the lower one are fixed a thrashing-machine and circular saw, both being driven by the shaft which drives the pulper in the adjoining root-house. The upper compartment, 18 feet high, has its floor on a level with the stack-yard, which occupies the higher ground, at the north side of the Homestead. From thence the stacks are brought by means of a tramway to the thrashing-machine, the top of which is raised about 2 feet above the floor level. As the corn is thrashed the straw is delivered into the adjoining Straw-barn, and the grain to the respective wheat and horse-corn Granaries, situated on either side. In the latter, stones and mills are fixed for bruising corn and crushing cake.

Mr. Wells writes :—“The corn, when thrashed, is raised, dressed, and deposited in either of these granaries by means of spouts and screw propellers, so that whatever description of corn is thrashed, it finds its way into the proper place without manual labour.”

In the Chaff-cutting room is fixed the chaff-cutter, driven by a separate shaft; and as the straw and hay are cut, the chaff falls into a room below, where the food is mixed and taken to the cattle without passing through the fold-yards.

The Fold-Yards are sloped, the centre of each being 6 feet below the thresholds of the doors, and covered with a layer of chalk 1 foot thick, well rammed down.

The Floors of the Buildings which contain cattle are paved with Bradford stonesetts, laid in pitch ; those of the barn, straw-shed, mill and cutting-houses, and passages, are of asphalte blocks, 18 inches square by 2 ½ inches thick.

Jules Bastien-Lepage  (1848–1884)
Weary
Jules Bastien-Lepage 
Weary

The Rain-water from the House and Buildings, which are spouted, is conducted to iron tanks, containing about 6500 gallons. Overflow pipes are provided to convey the surplus water from these into two large underground cisterns, one containing 13,000 gallons to supply the engine which pumps its own water, the other containing 10,000 gallons, which supplies the house. There are also two circular ponds, 30 yards in diameter, which are supplied by rain-water from the hills. In the Wolds a sufficient supply of water is a great desideratum, and these arrangements have never failed as yet to secure all that has been needed. The Drainage of the Homestead is thorough; each stable is provided with an iron cess-pit, which, in connection with the drains of the yards, empties itself into one large tank in the carpenter’s yard.

Ventilation is procured by the ordinary “ventilators” in the ridges of the roof, and by several swivel-windows placed over the heads of the animals, 12 feet apart.

Such walls as are only 9 inches thick received two coats of plaster, and the whole of the inside of the Buildings is whitewashed.

No paint is used to the woodwork. It is all stained with umber, and fixed with cold boiled linseed oil and varnish.

Sanction Hill Farm

Description of the Farm.—This Farm contains about 350 acres. It was formerly in two holdings, the old homesteads attached to which, according to the custom of the Yorkshire Wolds district, were situated in the village.

The improvements in cultivation which have signalised this district, especially the growth of turnips, have rendered it essential to complete success that the Buildings should be placed as near the centre of the farm as possible, and Mr. Wells has adopted this principle in selecting the site of the present Homestead.

The land is of a light loamy character, the surface soil for the most part varying in depth from 6 to 18 inches. The whole overlies the chalk, and when the superstratum is of considerable depth, it is usual to bring up the chalk from below, and spread it about the land at the rate of from 100 to 150 loads per acre.

Mr. Wells is a land-agent of considerable experience and wide practice, and farms nearly 1000 acres of land in addition to his own, which is here described.

Tattenhall Hall Farm

Tattenhall Hall Farm in the county of Chester, is the property of Robert Barbour, Esq., and is occupied by Mr. George Jackson. The average annual rainfall of the district is about 33 inches

Description of the Farm.—The Buildings were erected in the year 1860. Exclusive of House and Piggeries, the haulage of materials, the formation of roads, and the making of the necessary approaches they cost 1600l. This sum does not include a small portion of old materials used in them. The arrangements were designed by the tenant; Mr. J. Harrison, of Chester, acting as architect.

Tattenhall Hall Farm

The dairy cows, 80 in number, occupy the principal building (the Cow-house), in close proximity with which are the Food-chambers, Machinery, and Barn. The cows are placed on each side a central feeding passage, along which the cut food is carried by a truck to the troughs ; while a constant stream of water passes along the two lines of stalls, and furnishes each with an ever fresh supply. The central portion of this large building is higher than the two ends, and contains a lay-loft, into which hay is brought direct from the field, and there stored. Ventilation is gained by an air-shaft, in the shape of a centre cupola, and by side openings.

There is accommodation for 14 calves, and 12 store stock, in addition to the dairy stock.

Stabling is provided for 9 working horses, besides which there is a Nag-stable with three stalls, a Loose-box, and a Hospital for cows.

The Piggeries, which are supplied with whey by means of a pipe-drain direct from the Dairy, are fitted up for about 50 breeding, store, and fatting pigs, and are very complete.

The Machinery consists of a portable steam-engine, with a thrashing apparatus; also a small 6-inch cylinder fixed steam-engine, which drives a chaff-cutter placed in the straw dépôt, and a root-cutter and cleaner in the room below. The latter is supplied by the engine-boy from the adjacent store, and the roots, when cut, are taken by elevators and mixed with the chaff; the whole being sprinkled with hot water, or oil-cake gruel, as it descends to a chamber, the floor of which is perforated, in order to allow the waste steam from the engine to ascend and sweeten the mass. The cows are kept on this steamed food throughout the winter; as spring approaches an addition of oil-cake, bean-meal, and a little chopped seeds and clover, is made to it.

Jules Bastien-Lepage  (1848–1884) 
Hay Making
Jules Bastien-Lepage 
Hay Making

The milk, when brought from the Cow-house, is collected into two cheese-tubs, or vats, placed on the kitchen floor, and capable of containing 240 gallons. Each tub is provided with a 3-inch plug, and a strainer guards the opening through which the whey, when separated from the curd, passes into one of four slate cisterns. When all the cream has been removed from the whey, a valve is raised, which allows of the escape of the refuse whey into any or all of the pig-troughs, a little meal from the corn-flour bin being added to it. The curd, when separated, is passed through the curd mill. It is then salted, vatted, pressed into the proper cheese shapes, and elevated into the cheese drying room, and after four months’ detention, the cheeses are lowered by the same contrivance, and sent to the London market.

The buildings are drained into two large Liquid-manure tanks, the contents of which serve to irrigate about 14 acres of meadow land.

The Rain-water and the wash of the house is conducted to suitable reservoirs, and is made to flow over a small meadow at pleasure.

The Buildings are supplied with water from a pond, which receives the drainage water from about 15 acres of land.

The corn crops are well housed in Skeleton Barns having clay floors, the crops being preserved from contact with the clay, by means of an intervening layer of brushwood.

In addition to this Homestead, which has the disadvantage of not being at the centre of the holding, 24 cow-stalls, a food house, and labourer’s cottage, have been erected at a distant part of the farm. At this Steading the barren cows are fatted and the calves are kept, the latter being supplied with roots and fodder. By this means much cartage is saved, and manure is made where it is wanted.

Description of the Farm.—The Farm consists of about 320 acres, of which about 100 are arable, the rest being pasture and mcadow. The land consists mostly of clay, resting on a substratum of New Red Sandstone.

The arable land is cultivated partly on a five-course, and partly on a four-course system.

All the land requiring drainage has been drained, partly by the landlord, partly by the tenant.

During the present tenancy many old fences have been levelled, and about six miles of new and straight quick hedges have been planted ; by which means, and by filling useless pits, the productive area of the farm has been increased by more than 12 acres. Eighteen or twenty acres of swedes or mangolds are annually grown, and carried from the fields-part to the home, and part to the outlying farmstead.

A flock of 200 sheep is usually kept.

Below are some plans from the book. Click on one to enlarge and scroll through the other images.

Jules Bastien-Lepage 
The Grape Harvest
Jules Bastien-Lepage 
The Grape Harvest

If domestic life in rural Victorian England is your passion, then I highly recommend the BBC series, The Victorian Farm. (But you’ve probably already seen it if you’re on my blog.) Much of the information in that series comes from Henry Stephens’ The Book of the Farm.

Women in Late Joseon Korea – Fashion and Marriage

This is the final post in my series on Korean women in the Joseon era. I excerpted from Louise Jordan Miln’s book Quaint Korea, published in 1895, in my previous posts, Women in Late Joseon Korea and The Kisaeng.

However, I noticed Miln’s wedding information is eerily similar to the description in History of Corea by John Ross, published in 1879. So I’ve excerpted some passages from History of Corea as well.

As I noted in my previous posts on the subject, the information presented here may not be entirely accurate. I welcome any polite corrections or additional information. I really struggled to find images for this series. Most of the photos in this post were taken a few years after the Joseon era.

Let’s first excerpt from Quaint Korea.

https://www.loc.gov/item/2004707992/

[Korean women] wear petticoats made very much in Western fashion, but stiffly starched into crinoline-like ungracefulness. The women of the poorer classes wear these skirts above their ankles. The women of wealth or of rank wear skirts touching the ground.

young woman
Souvenir de
Séoul, Corée : 1900. Courant, Maurice

They wear a jacket or belt shaped very much like, and answering the purpose of, a corset, and a shorter jacket which is at best but an inadequate neckerchief. And under their petticoat they wear three pairs of wide trousers.

Except among the very poorest class, respectable Korean women muffle themselves in a garment like a dress or great-coat whenever they go abroad.

John Ross writes in History of Corea, “They must never be seen by any man, except their husband; hence, when they go to the street, as they do freely, they throw over them a long robe, which they pull over the head and face, leaving only the smallest space open before the eyes, necessary to see their way; and their eyes always look to the ground. They must never be seen by any man, except their husband; hence, when they go to the street, as they do freely, they throw over them a long robe, which they pull over the head and face, leaving only the smallest space open before the eyes, necessary to see their way; and their eyes always look to the ground.”

Korean women muffle themselves in a garment like a dress or great-coat whenever they go abroad.
https://www.loc.gov/item/2003666557/
Korean women muffle themselves in a garment like a dress or great-coat whenever they go abroad.
From The Passing of Korea by Homer Bezaleel Hulbert
Doubleday, Page, 1906 

The women of Korea’s poor almost invariably wear the same colour as do the men of the same class: a blue so pale, so indefinite, and, from a short distance, so imperceptible, that it has generally been called white. … Korean women of position wear almost every conceivable colour. In China, pink and green are set aside for women, and are sacred to their wearing. I do not think that the women of Korea have the sole right to wear any colour, but they certainly have the right to wear, and the habit of wearing, almost every conceivable colour. Purples and greens are their high favourites, and green is almost invariably the hue—and a bright, deep green at that—of the generously-sleeved dress which the middle-class Korean woman (or on rare occasions, a lady) throws about her head and shoulders when she walks abroad. This green dress, which is used as a cloak, is almost exclusively the garment of the women of the middle class—the women who are not so poor that they are obliged to draw water, or to engage in any other forms of hard labour which would make the covering of their faces impossible—but who, at the same time, are occasionally obliged to go abroad on some matter of household business.

Susanna’s Note: I love the colorful clothes in Rookie Historian.

Wives and concubines and daughters of mandarins and of men of wealth do not often leave their own (by courtesy) house and gardens. When they do, they go in palanquins. They enter the palanquin in their own court-yard; the blinds or curtains are tightly closed. The chair is borne away on the shoulders … and is usually followed by one or more female servants or waiting women, who run closely behind it, looking on the ground, and carrying a fan, which indicates the rank of the palanquined mistress.

Woman in palanquin
https://www.loc.gov/item/2003666541/
Woman in palanquin
 https://www.loc.gov/item/2003666466/

In some parts of Korea, among some classes of the poor, the women wear a very short white jacket which barely covers the upper part of the bosom.

Korean women washing in a river
https://www.loc.gov/item/2001705582/

The dress of a Korean lady is as elaborate as the dress of a Korean working-woman is plain. The example of simplicity set by Queen Min is followed by almost none of the Korean women who can afford to do otherwise. The wardrobe of a Korean lady contains garments of silk, surprising in quantity, and covetable in quality, but satins are unknown, and the glimmer and glitter … must be made alone by the lustre of silk, and enhanced by as much tinsel, as many jewels and ornaments as the wearer can possibly afford.

***

[Cosmetics] are greatly used all over [Asia]. But in two particulars there is less to be said against the face-painting of Eastern women than there is to be said against the face-painting of the women of the West. In Asia, hair-oil, rouge, powder, kohl for the eyes and eyebrows, and brilliant pigments for the lips, are put on frankly, and are as avowedly, and as sincerely, a seemly and decent adornment, and as much an item of being “dressed up,” as is a silken petticoat or a jewelled necklet.

***

[The Korean woman] lays on the thick layers of brilliant red and ghastly white as devoutly and as dutifully as she says her prayers. The other good word I have to say for the cosmetics of [Korea] is this—they are infinitely less harmful than the cosmetics we are wont to use in Europe. I know that. For, on the stage I have tried both very thoroughly.

***

A well-to-do Korean woman usually has a very interesting collection of hair-pins. They are long, heavily ornamented, made of silver, of gold, or of copper; more usually of silver. Some of them are very beautiful, and some that I have seen reminded me very much of the long silver pins that are thrust through the braids of Italian peasant women.

hair pin

The well-to-do women, especially in the capital, now very generally wear European under-clothing. They invariably wear a pouch which is fastened by cords to their girdle. This is their pocket, the only pocket they have, except their sleeves, and in it they carry a tiger’s claw for luck, a small cushion of sachet, or a bottle of thick, rich perfume, some of their favourite pieces of jewellery, scissors usually, or a knife, two or three of their most frequently used toilet implements, and almost invariably a small Korean chess-board and chess-men. The board and the pieces are often made of silver or even of gold. Chess is, perhaps, the most popular of all Korea’s many games, and the Korean women of the leisure class play it incessantly. The pocket also contains, more likely than not, the official book of female politeness; a book which every Korean lady studies assiduously. But whatever this pocket contains or does not contain, it must by no means be without several charms, charms for good luck, charms for health, charms for wealth, and for any or every other good desirable under the Korean sun. Of its charms the most valuable is the tiger’s claw … The tiger is probably the most dreaded foe of the Koreans.

Korean brother and 2 sisters
Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2001705586/

The hands of a Korean lady are always exquisitely kept, and usually loaded with rings, often with rings of very great value.

***

Among some classes of Korean women the dressing of their hair is the most important item of their toilet, and one skilled in ways Korean, and in signs of Korean rank, can very readily determine, from a glance at her coiffure, who and what a Korean woman is. The ladies of the court wear their hair in different prescribed ways. The geisha girls have an artistic fashion of their own, and a Korean woman servant, one part of whose duty is to fetch and to carry, makes out of the braids of her own hair an enormous cushion upon which she can carry with the greatest security a huge bundle, or a vast dish of food.

Korean hair dressing
British Library digitised image from page 197 of “Corea, the hermit nation. I. Ancient and mediæval history. II. Political and social Corea. III. Modern and recent history”

The men of no other race are so amply dowered with hats as are the men of Korea. Probably the women of no other civilized country are so badly off for head-gear as are the women of Chosön… The only hat the Korean women wear now is the folded dress which I have described before. There is indeed a jaunty, little embroidered cap not unlike a modified Turkish fez, or the glorious capote of a French vivandière.

Korean women's hats
Every-day Life in Korea: A Collection of Studies and Stories, by Daniel L. Gifford
Fleming H. Revell Company, 1898

The following description of a Joseon era wedding is excerpted from History of Corea by John Ross.

Ordinarily, the father of young hopeful begins the preparations for marriage ; but the father of a girl may look out a husband for her at pleasure. Fathers and mothers are even, if possible, more absolute than in China. The father makes enquiries as to who, of all his acquaintances, possesses a daughter eligible in years, appearance, character, and position. Having ascertained, he consults with his wife, who gets on her long robe, pulls it over her face, and starts for the house of the young lady. If the interview does not satisfy the old lady, the process is repeated. When a good match is met with, a mutual friend of the two parental parties is engaged to perform the task of sounding the girl’s parents, who may stop all further advances at once; or the father of the girl may, in his turn, visit the house of the aspirant, and have an unofficial interview with the young man, in the same manner as his daughter was visited before. When both parties are agreeable, formal negotiations are opened by the father of the young man writing a long red-paper letter to his friend ; first giving his own name and address, then asking carefully about his friend’s health, &c., and expressing the warmest wishes for his welfare ; and last of all, like some postscripts, be mentions that he has one, two, or three sons, as the case may be; that number one is unmarried, and of marriageable age; that after careful enquiry among his many friends, he has discovered that his friend has a marriageable daughter, &c., &c. This letter is written in presence of the middle man, to whom it is handed for delivery to the girl’s father. There is, however, no engagement on either side, and either may draw back, until the girl’s father replies in an equally formal manner, accepting the proposal for his daughter, after which acceptation the young people are virtually married; for, if before the final consummation of marriage the young man dies, the girl is a widow, and acts as such, never marrying except with disgrace. It is a queer custom, and a most unequal and unjust one; for if the woman dies, the youth can marry when he chooses.

Susanna’s note: The plot of the K-drama Bossam – Steal The Fate is centered around a woman whose fiancé dies, and she cannot marry again.

An auspicious day is discovered by horology, on which the bridegroom sends presents of female clothing, and of materials for a “man’s” clothing, to the bride, including stuff for the long outer, wider, manly robe, which he assumes on his marriage-day for the first time in his life. After these are sent, the bridegroom is permitted to tie up his hair in a knot on the crown of his head, in old Chinese style; his uncut hair having been previously plaited in a queue similar to the present Chinese or Manchu fashion. The Corean never cuts off any of his hair and never shaves. There is, however, on the middle of the crown of his head a little spot, which could be covered with a sixpence, which was burnt on the occasion of his first childish illness; and that spot is made a little larger when the knot is tied, as the accumulation of hair on the top of his head makes the head uncomfortably hot, and causes sore eyes. And the bridegroom having become a man, now goes round to pay his humble respects to all the relations and friends of his father. On the night of the day on which the bridegroom sent his presents, the friends of his father collect at his house, sit up all night, and eat, drink, and make merry.

Korean bride and groom meet
https://www.loc.gov/item/89706272/

As Corea is an extremely poor country, there are many who cannot afford to get wives for their sons, and there are many men who grow up bachelors of a respectable age … The male human being who is unmarried is never called a “man,” whatever his age, but goes by the name of “yatow”; a name given by the Chinese to unmarriageble young girls: and the “man” of thirteen or fourteen has perfect right to strike, abuse, order about the “yatow” of thirty, who dares not as much as open his lips to complain.

Korean married couple
https://www.loc.gov/item/2003665580/

Another auspicious day, perhaps the third after present-day, is found for “diang gaighanda”—the marriage. On the night before the marriage, the bride sends back her husband’s garments made by herself, being her first wifely duty done. An auspicious hour is fixed for the departure of the bridegroom and his party from his own house to that of the bride. In front of the procession is a servant on horseback, carrying a life-size likeness of a wild goose, covered by red cotton cloth, which he holds with both hands. Then follows the bridegroom, also on horseback; his groom riding after him, all his other servants following on horseback. The bridegroom’s father brings up the rear, with his servants behind, all riding,–the number of horses and amount of display being bounded only by the purse of the parties, but in all cases implying great expense.

Arrived at the house, the wild goose man first dismounts, enters and places the wild goose on the top of a huge bowl of rice, and then retires. The father then dismounts outside the main gate, and the bridegroom last of all. Etiquette demands that all the company should stand facing the east, in which position they doff their grand official hats, richly embroidered outer robes, and boots, worn by permission on this day by plebeian as by my lord. In their ordinary apparel, they are now led into the house by the bride’s father, who has come out to welcome them, the bridegroom advancing first of all. No sooner are they comfortably seated, thạn a scene of the greatest confusion and uproarious mirth takes place. The bridegroom is a scholar, and has been accompanied by all his fellow-scholars, who now suddenly dash on him in a body, and carry him off in spite of all striving and remonstrance on his part. They hold him a prisoner till his father-in-law redeems him with a handsome bribe, on which they hand him over, and depart to make merry with their plunder.

The bridegroom’s party is then regaled with food, after partaking of which they all depart, each of the servants with a little present of money, leaving the bridegroom alone to pay his respects to the ancestral tablet of his bride. And in the evening he is introduced into the bride’s chamber, which is decked out with flowers, two bowls of rice on the kang, in each of which is stuck a yellow candlestick and a burning candle. There he remains alone, till the bride is by and by escorted by her mother and female relations in the house, and the married people see each other for the first time. They are at once left alone and the door closed. On the next day the bride divides the one queue, in which her hair had been hitherto done up, into two; each containing half her hair, and plaited back on the crown of the head, one on each side, towards the forehead, in which fashion she wears it ever after. On the third day, the young couple may return to the bridegroom’s father’s house ; but if not then, a whole year must pass ere they go thither, many allowing two years. When they do arrive at the young husband’s house, they both worship his ancestral tablet.

At marriage, a red paper with written characters is handed them, which is afterwards cut in two,—each retaining half; for in case of future trouble, the husband cannot marry again, if he has not the half showing him independent; for many married people separate in Corea, from “incompatibility of temper,” or other reasons; nor need we wonder at the fact. The separated husband, with his half of this red paper, can easily obtain another wife, but not without; while she is supposed never again to marry.

One of the lower class informed me that the youth went to the father-in-law’s house, a month before marriage, and saw the girl. That if both, or either, were dissatisfied, they could break the match, by persistent opposition, in spite of parental chastisement (!) which is likely enough; for mutual choice was the ancient custom of the country.

Woman in palanquin
https://www.loc.gov/item/2003666523/

William Wells Brown Visits The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851

William Wells Brown

William Wells Brown, the child of a slave and slave owner, grew up in St. Louis in the early nineteenth century. He was sold many times before he escaped slavery in 1834. He adopted the name Wells Brown after the Quaker who helped him as a runaway. Having no formal education, Wells Brown taught himself to read and went on to become the first African American to publish a novel, play, and a travel guide. He wrote Three Years in Europe: Places I Have Seen and People I Have Met while lecturing on abolitionism in Europe. I’ve excerpted his description of The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace, which was the first world’s fair.

Crystal Palace

A Day in the Crystal Palace.

London, June 27th, 1851.

Presuming that you will expect from me some account of the great World’s Fair, I take my pen to give you my own impressions, although I am afraid that anything which I may say about this “Lion of the day,” will fall far short of a description. On Monday last, I quitted my lodgings at an early hour, and started for the Crystal Palace. This day was fine, such as we seldom experience in London, with a clear sky, and invigorating air, whose vitality was as rousing to the spirits as a blast from the “horn of Astolpho.” Although it was not yet 10 o’clock when I entered Piccadilly, every omnibus was full, inside and out, and the street was lined with one living stream, as far as the eye could reach, all wending their way to the “Glass-House.” No metropolis in the world presents such facilities as London for the reception of the Great Exhibition, now collected within its walls. Throughout its myriads of veins, the stream of industry and toil pulses with sleepless energy. Everyone seems to feel that this great Capital of the world, is the fittest place wherein they might offer homage to the dignity of toil. I had already begun to feel fatigued by my pedestrian excursion as I passed “Apsley House,” the residence of the Duke of Wellington, and emerged into Hyde Park.

The Great Exhibition by James Duffield Harding
The Great Exhibition by James Duffield Harding

I had hoped that on getting into the Park, I would be out of the crowd that seemed to press so heavily in the street. But in this I was mistaken. I here found myself surrounded by and moving with an overwhelming mass, such as I had never before witnessed. And, away in the distance, I beheld a dense crowd, and above every other object, was seen the lofty summit of the Crystal Palace. The drive in the Park was lined with princely-looking vehicles of every description. The drivers in their bright red and gold uniforms, the pages and footmen in their blue trousers and white silk stockings, and the horses dressed up in their neat, silver-mounted harness, made the scene altogether one of great splendour. I was soon at the door, paid my shilling, and entered the building at the south end of the Transept. For the first ten or twenty minutes I was so lost in astonishment, and absorbed in pleasing wonder, that I could do nothing but gaze up and down the vista of the noble building. The Crystal Palace resembles in some respects, the interior of the cathedrals of this country. One long avenue from east to west is intersected by a transept, which divides the building into two nearly equal parts. This is the greatest building the world ever saw, before which the Pyramids of Egypt, and the Colossus of Rhodes must hide their diminished heads. The palace was not full at any time during the day, there being only 64,000 persons present. Those who love to study the human countenance in all its infinite varieties, can find ample scope for the indulgence of their taste, by a visit to the World’s Fair. All countries are there represented—Europeans, Asians, Americans and Africans, with their numerous subdivisions… Of all places of curious costumes and different fashions, none has ever yet presented such a variety as this Exhibition.

There is a great deal of freedom in the Exhibition. The servant who walks behind his mistress through the Park feels that he can crowd against her in the Exhibition. The Queen and the day labourer, the Prince and the merchant, the peer and the pauper… all meet here upon terms of perfect equality. This amalgamation of rank, this kindly blending of interests, and forgetfulness of the cold formalities of ranks and grades, cannot but be attended with the very best results. I was pleased to see such a goodly sprinkling of my own countrymen in the Exhibition—I mean Black men and women—well-dressed, and moving about with their fairer brethren. This, some of our pro-slavery Americans did not seem to relish very well. There was no help for it. As I walked through the American part of the Crystal Palace, some of our Virginian neighbours eyed me closely and with jealous looks, especially as an English lady was leaning on my arm. But their sneering looks did not disturb me in the least. I remained the longer in their department, and criticised the bad appearance of their goods the more.

Crystal Palace
Mediaeval Court from the Great Exhibition of 1851 from Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/399129
Crystal Palace
from the V&A
from the British Library

In so vast a place as the Great Exhibition one scarcely knows what to visit first, or what to look upon last. After wandering about through the building for five hours, I sat down in one of the galleries and looked at the fine marble statue of Virginius, with the knife in his hand and about to take the life of his beloved and beautiful daughter, to save her from the hands of Appius Claudius. The admirer of genius will linger for hours among the great variety of statues in the long avenue. Large statues of Lords Eldon and Stowell, carved out of solid marble, each weighing above twenty tons, are among the most gigantic in the building.

Among the many things in the Crystal Palace, there are some which receive greater attention than others, around which may always be seen large groups of the visitors. The first of these is the Koh-i-noor, the “Mountain of Light.” This is the largest and most valuable diamond in the world, said to be worth £2,000,000 sterling. It is indeed a great source of attraction to those who go to the Exhibition for the first time, but it is doubtful whether it obtains such admiration afterwards. We saw more than one spectator turn away with the idea that after all it was only a piece of glass. After some jamming, I got a look at the precious jewel, and although in a brass-grated cage, strong enough to hold a lion, I found it to be no larger than the third of a hen’s egg. Two policemen remain by its side day and night.

Queen Victoria by Franz Xaver Winterhalter
Queen Victoria wearing the Koh-i-noor in a brooch. Portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter 

The finest thing in the Exhibition, is the “Veiled Vestal,” a statue of a woman carved in marble, with a veil over her face, and so neatly done, that it looks as if it had been thrown over after it was finished. The Exhibition presents many things which appeal to the eye and touch the heart, and altogether, it is so decorated and furnished, as to excite the dullest mind, and satisfy the most fastidious.

I’ve gathered images from several sources including Dickinson’s Comprehensive Pictures of the Great Exhibition of 1851. Also see the Great Exhibition Of The Works Of Industry Of All Nations: Official Descriptive And Illustrated Catalogue .

Your Constant, Faithful, and Affectionate True Love – Victorian Love Letters

My Dearest Reader—Do you sit glumly at your writing desk, your quill poised as you stare at your blank Valentine’s Day card?  Do you not possess the flowery prose to express your ardent, undying, and very proper love for another? Never fear! The Parlour Letter-writer And Secretary’s Assistant, published in 1845, can help. This volume is overflowing with sappy expressions of adoration that are perfect for almost any Victorian romantic relationship. I have excerpted a few letters for your reading pleasure. I am, gentle reader, Yours most sincerely.

Paisaje con mujer by José Villegas Cordero    

To a Lady.

My dearest Harriet—Ever since the fatal or auspicious evening that I was introduced to your endearing presence, my heart has been riveted to the lovely image of her, who must become the arbitress of my future happiness or misery; that the latter will be the case, will not endure a moment’s reflection, for independent of my own feelings, it would be cruel to suppose that a bosom formed of virtues most sensitive and tender, could ever consign a heart touched with those very virtues to become the victim of aspiring delusion. No, my dear Harriet, you will never overwhelm me with such a fatal reply, and thus annihilate all those endearing prospects of future felicity, which I have so ardently cherished; as an alleviation, then, to those fond feelings, which are at present severely agitated by suspense, permit me, my dear girl, to address your respected parents, for a formal recognition of my visits and attentions to a concession from my Harriet, will relieve me from a state of inexpressible anxiety, and in part secure to me a glowing tranquility, which is only in the power of you, my love, to bestow. Anxiously expecting a favourable reply, I am, dearest Harriet, yours sincerely.

The Answer.

Sir—In answer to your flattering letter, I must beg leave to remind you, that in giving you the permission of addressing my beloved parents upon the subject of your attachment to me, such permission must be understood as implying a reciprocity of feeling; which indeed, in a point involving all the consequences of my future happiness, is no ordinary speculation; however, that I may not incur the charge of cruelty from one whom, I must acknowledge, I at present value with no ordinary esteem, I shall, with the permission of my parents, feel much pleasure in a continuation of your society; but with regard to the success of your present enterprise, time and circumstances alone must determine. Begging you to receive my best acknowledgments for the honour conferred, I remain, sir, with sincere regard, Your affectionate friend.

At the Mirror by Georg Friedrich Kersting 

From a Gentleman to a Widow.

Madam—Since our first introduction, I have no longer been master of my own heart; your wit, beauty, and numerous good qualities, have enslaved it, and thus I offer it to your acceptance.

I will not condescend to employ flattery, for your own excellent understanding would condemn it; neither will I attempt to draw any romantic pictures of conjugal happiness; you are aware of what may be expected from the marriage state, from a man, I trust, of liberal ideas, and who is tenderly devoted to you. You have known me a sufficient time to be a judge of my merits (if I possess any); I shall therefore content myself with making you an offer of my hand and heart, which I trust you will accept. My circumstances, also, you are intimately acquainted with; it will, therefore, be needless for me to enter upon them. Suffice it to say, I can insure you every real comfort in life. Anxiously waiting for a reply to this letter, I remain, dear madam, Your devoted lover.

The Answer.

Sir—The very short time we have been acquainted, prevents my answering your letter in the decisive manner your professions seem to desire. Having already trod the path of conjugal happiness, it is a duty incumbent on me, not to mar my present widowed comforts by any delusive engagement; my former union having contributed to give me more correct views of life, requires that, previous to forming a second engagement, I should use a more matured discretion than may be expected from our sex in our tender years. Upon a better acquaintance, our views may be more congenial; until then, your regard for me will, I trust, spare me a reconsideration of your proposal. With the greatest respect for your kind attentions and esteem, I remain, sir, Yours most sincerely.

Preußisches Liebesglück by Emil Doerstling

From an Officer to a Lady.

My adored Girl—Your beloved society was to me a source of the purest delight. You may me judge, therefore, from your own sentiments, how miserable the order for my removal from you made me. Driven almost to despair, I reprobated the service, and would have given worlds to have resigned my commission, but it fortunately came into my mind that I might still pour out the warm feelings of my heart to you, my beloved, by means of my pen; this soothed my grief, and supported me under our painful separation.

The amusements of this place afford no pleasure to me, it being impossible for me to enjoy that in which you do not partake: no, my beloved, my only happiness consists in fancying scenes of ideal bliss which can never be accomplished till you are mine forever.

You are aware, Julia, that I was fearful of making your father acquainted with our mutual attachment, otherwise than by letter. The enclosed is for him; it contains a declaration of my affection for you; yet, acquainted as I am with his goodness, I am induced to hope for the most flattering result. Expecting to hear from you by return of post, am, my beloved Julia, Your faithful and affectionate lover.

The Lady’s Answer.

Dear Orlando—Your own feelings will explain to you how welcome your dear letter was to your own affectionate Julia, and how grieved I was to learn that you were compelled to tear yourself away from me, even for a short time; but, my dear Orlando, be assured that whether together or absent, your Julia is, and will be, eternally and affectionately your own. Should any obstruction arise, it must spring from yourself alone, as my happiness or misery in this world depends entirely upon your conduct; my very existence being interwoven with your well-being and general prosperity. My father has directed me to transmit you the enclosed. I have every reason to suppose it will prove agreeable, though I can assure you I am totally ignorant of its contents, and can only surmise them, by our last night’s conversation, when he hoped I should be as happy as he wished me. I must acknowledge my pride is not a little gratified at your statement, “that you can enjoy no pleasures in which I do not share.” It is an avowal, dear Orlando, which thrills my heart with unfeigned joy, and never shall you have, on my part, the smallest reason to think otherwise. Anxiously expecting to hear from you soon, I am, dear Orlando, Inviolably yours.

Petrus Van Schendel

From a Rich Gentleman to a Lady, with a Proposal of Marriage.

Madam—You will, perhaps, be surprised at receiving a letter from me; but as I have written it with the most honourable motives, I trust I may expect your pardon should the contents not be perfectly congenial to your views. However, I have every reason to conclude that in making you a proposal consistent with the passion I bear you, that I am not trespassing on a heart already bestowed on some favoured object. I therefore flatter myself that I may not be altogether unsuccessful in arriving at the happy preference to which I ardently aspire. My circumstances and station of life you are fully aware of, and I am happy to say that although there may be a disparity in point of fortune, nevertheless the very amiable qualities of your heart, and accomplishments of person, which have truly riveted my affections on you, have made such an impression on my family, that I can assure you, it would afford them the highest pleasure imaginable to reckon you in the number of their relations. Having prefaced, my dear madam, thus far, permit me to entreat a favourable reception of my attentions; and believe me that your consent will make me the happiest of my sex; on the contrary, madam, a refusal will render me the most miserable of beings; and I feel confident that a heart so truly amiable, will never give a moment’s pain to one who is truly fascinated with your charms, unless some fatal obstacle should exist, of which I am wholly unconscious. Anxiously expecting an answer, which may allay the unsettled feelings which at present agitate a heart wholly yours, I am, dear madam, Your sincere and affectionate admirer.

The Lady’s Answer.

I am truly sensible of the honour you have conferred on me, by the proposal which your letter contains, and can assure you I should be doing an injustice to my own feelings, were I to express sentiments in reply, otherwise than agreeable to your professed wish; the main difficulty to a concession on my part, is fully and agreeably removed, by the very flattering estimation in which you represent me to be held by your amiable and beloved family; had not that been the case, it would have been with much reluctance (supposing it to have been possible) that you would have elicited a consent from me, as I am too well aware of the unhappiness which generally ensues, from the protracted scorn and contempt of haughty relatives, where marriages are formed upon a disparity of fortune. But as I feel convinced that the merits of your family are not to be estimated by any ordinary standard, and that their most ardent wish is to promote your comfort and happiness, believe me, dear sir, I feel highly gratified at the honour of being considered by them worthy of being elevated to the most prominent station, as a contributor to it. You will have the goodness to present my most dutiful respects to them, and accept the sincere and tender affection Of your respectful and honoured.

Marcus Stone

From a Sailor to his Intended Wife.

Dearest Mary—An order has just arrived for our ship to sail immediately for the East Indies, where it is probable we shall remain for three years; but notwithstanding this, my dear girl, be assured that neither time nor absence will make any alteration in the affectionate heart of your devoted sailor. Keep up your spirits, then, my dear, and fear not on account of your lover, for

“There’s a sweet little cherub that sits up aloft,

To watch for the life of poor Jack.”

And be assured that whatever may be our course, you will be the pole towards which the needle of my affections will constantly turn. I have got my half of the sixpence which we broke between us, and will preserve it as a sacred deposit; and should I fall among the glorious dead, it shall accompany me to my watery grave. Remember me, dearest Mary, and I trust that Fortune with her smile will soon enable me to return with wealth and honour, to lay them at your feet. May fair winds and a prosperous voyage attend you through life; and, in expectation of an early answer, I am, dearest, lovely Mary, Your affectionate lover.

The Answer.

My dearest John—Your kind letter, my dearest soul, has made me very unhappy. Indeed, it is cruel that we must part just at the moment when I expected we should be married. However, God’s will be done!

Be careful of yourself, my dear John, and remember that if any misfortune happens to you, I shall not long survive it. I am too happy in knowing how truly you love me, which causes me the more sorrow at the thought of parting from you. I have sent you, by the mail-coach, a few articles, which I am sure you will value for the sake of the giver; and be assured, whenever it shall please God for your return, you will find me Your still constant, faithful, and affectionate true love.

Actress and producer Mary Pickford

From a Jealous Lover to his Intended Wife.

October 20th, 18—. My dear Selina— Ah! my Selina, for I cannot entertain the dreadful thought for a moment that you are not mine, how can you be so cruel as to harrow my feelings by a pointed display of your attentions to young men, who, but for your apparent solicitude for their compliments, would have had no pretext for wounding a heart by their assiduity to acknowledge the marked distinction with which you treated them ; I had fondly hoped that the vows of mutual fidelity, and reciprocal love, with which we had pledged each other, would never have been erased from your tender bosom, but alas! what have I not to fear from the agonized feelings I experienced yesterday evening. If, my lovely Selina, you have the smallest respect for your vows, or the least spark of that attractive flame, which once seemed to glow for your now desponding Alfred, you will, by returning me a consolatory answer, heal the wounds you have so cruelly inflicted on a heart so devotedly your own : oh! Selina, let me but once again believe you are mine, and you will banish a load of misery from a heart tenderly and sincerely devoted to you. I am, cruel Selina, Your truly unhappy.

The Lady’s Answer.

My dear Alfred—Who could have supposed that you, who have made such ardent professions of tenderness, could have charged me, your own Selina, with cruelty? Were it not that I have, in compassion to your present feelings, condescended to attribute the charge to an over-sensitive heart, you would not have received any consolatory explanation of the circumstances which seem deep-ly to have affected you; the young men of whom you appear to be so nonsensically jealous, have been from children most intimately connected with our family, and not having had the pleasure of a visit from them for some years, and the particular marks of attention and respect with which I have been invariably treated by their respective families, might have caused that assiduity which they have a right to expect, and my own conscious feelings could not have refused; sorry should I be, my dear Alfred, to cause you a moment’s uneasiness; but since the whole affair has been purely accidental, I cannot but say that I am pleased in some measure with the result, since it has convinced me that your professions of love were genuine, and that I have no occasion to despair of a continuation of those affections, over which I appear to have some control, provided you will be equally alive to the exercise of your own good sense, in suppressing timely such ridiculous paroxysms of jealousy. I am, my dear Alfred, Yours affectionately.

Letter by Okada Saburosuke

From a Gentleman to a Lady greatly his Superior in Rank and Fortune.

Madam—I have no excuse to offer for my presumption in addressing this letter to a lady so greatly my superior, except my ardent love and admiration, which will be sufficient, I hope, to plead my pardon, and to procure me your pity. I have long tenderly loved you with the utmost fondness, but, till this moment, could never resolve to make a disclosure of my passion, on account of the inequality of our situations. Say then, madam, will you permit me to make you an offer of my hand and heart? Will you suffer me to indulge the pleasing expectation of receiving from you a return of mutual love? I can only add, that I am duly sensible of my temerity, but should you condescend to accept my proposal, and by uniting your destiny with mine, make me the happiest of men, then shall my life be devoted to the constant promotion of your happiness. I am, dear madam, Ever yours.  

The Answer.

Sir—As from the whole tenor of your conduct, I have long flattered myself with the possession of your heart, I will confess that I was not much surprised at the receipt of your letter. Believe me, sir, I consider the mere distinction arising from birth or wealth, as idle things. With this impression upon my mind, I feel no hesitation in avowing that I have long loved you with a mutual warmth of affection. Consequently, I can offer no objection to the proposal you have honoured me with; and I consider myself highly distinguished in being selected by you as the female worthy of becoming your wife. Having made this confession, I shall not endeavour to restrain your happiness by any false affectation of reserve, but content myself with stating that I am ready to become your wife; for which purpose I leave the necessary arrangements to you. I am, dear sir, Yours faithfully.   

Pauline Hübner, née Bendemann by Julius Hübner