Into Tavistock for the Dartmoor Book Fair last Sunday and the Town Hall full of book sellers all reading the papers and drinking coffee while the good people of the town browsed and bought.There is always a hushed, reverential atmosphere at these gatherings in these superb surroundings on a Sunday morning.
I always vaguely feel, on Easter Sunday of all days, that really I should be across the Square and sitting in the choir stalls of the Parish Church singing the anthem.I sang in the choir there for years but finally decided to leave the ranks when we moved out of town and into rural isolation.
My book purchasing down to an addition to the collection of old nursing and childcare manuals. I always keep an eye out for these and this one an 1879 edition of Hints to Mothers for the Management of Health During the Period of Pregnancy and in the Lying -In Room.
Books like this are often full of a surprising amount of wisdom but all combined with suggestions and advice which make your hair curl in 2007.
First browse and I learn that deafness in a nurse is an evil to be avoided, she won't hear when you call for her at night.
I now have the job description and person specifications for employing a wet nurse.
Age 21-30, vigorous, well-formed and of robust constitution with no taint of consumption, must have amiable disposition etc etc.
The wet-nurse "also has the propensity to derange the order of the nursery" so care must be taken to assign her place and duties whilst not looking on her as a "living dairy".
There's a helpful recipe for purgative biscuits but first go pick your jalap.
The formulary of over the counter medicines for babies would now be locked in the controlled drugs cabinet, accounted for daily by two people and an official record signed to that effect with witnesses.The truth was however starting to dawn and there are dire warnings.
Syrup of Poppies is "nothing more than a decoction of poppy-heads"
Mrs Winslow's Soothing Syrup (trade name Quietness)
Godfrey's Cordial - a mixture of infusion of sassafras, treacle and tincture of opium (56 deaths recorded)
One druggist in Manchester states "I sell in retail about 5 gallons per week of Quietness and half a gallon of Godfrey, the former preparation so strong as to contain 100 drops of laudanum in an ounce".
Some handy advice on leeches, when, where and how, and I think I could sort out a poultice too. If properly made "you might throw it up to the ceiling and it would come down again without falling in pieces"