Search This Blog

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Answers to Correspondents

Guest Blogger Dept.: Where do you look for a guide to life? Unfortunately, the tender advice columns of yore have vanished. Where once the editor was too delicate to repeat your question, now we’re mired in Q&A pages of the most egregiously explicit sort. For a maiden of tender sensibility in 1886 England, The Girl’s Own Paper was the place to turn. The magazine was founded in 1880 and endured, in varying manifestations, until 1956. It featured sentimental poetry, serialized fiction – and answers to anxious questions such as are reproduced below. The answers, that is. We can only guess at some of the queries.


Tom.—We think that you might be received as a pupil at a school in Dresden, before recommended by us. Write to the matron, Frau Johanna Knipp-Frauen, Industrie Schule, Elias Platz, No. 4, Ecke der Sachsen Allée, Zu Dresden. Before attempting to teach the English language she should make herself better acquainted with it. She uses the third person singular and the second in the plural in the same letter, and in addressing one and the same individual.

Midge.—We think that the College of Preceptors would meet your wishes better than any other. Write to the secretary, C. R. Hodgson, Esq., 42, Queen-square, Bloomsbury, W.C. You write very well. We may add, that this college grants diplomas to teachers of three grades—associates, licentiates, and fellows—for which persons of both sexes are eligible. Lectures on the theory of teaching are given in the college rooms.

Laura.—1. See our answer to “Chatterbox.” The mere question of having obtained educational certificates does not include all that is required of a governess. 2. The phrase, to “leave no stone unturned,” is taken from “Euripides,” and may be traced to a response of the Delphic oracle to Polycrates, with reference to the finding of treasure buried by Xerxes’ general, Mardonius, on the field of Platæa. Literally given, it was “Turn every stone.” We think it was a very safe answer, and did not require supernatural wisdom to dictate it.

Renee Vivian.—1. If you refer to our recent answers to such queries as yours, under the above heading, you will find a reference to a shilling manual, called a “Directory of Girls’ Clubs,” educational, religious, and industrial. The ages of the students vary in many of them, and so do the other rules. Write for it to Messrs. Griffith and Farran, St. Paul’s-churchyard, E.C. 2. The quotation, “Call us not weeds,” etc., is from “The Mother’s Fables,” by E. L. Aveline. Our society (the Religious Tract Society) has depôts all over the kingdom.


Star of the South.—1. We do not think it possible for you to obtain a livelihood by tinting photographs, and must especially warn you against answering advertisements professing to give remunerative employment to ladies in this way. 2. There are plenty of pottery works at Stafford, but they would not teach you pottery painting unless you were one of their workpeople and gave up your whole time to them. You would receive very little money at first, and might never become a first-class proficient at the work. Your better plan would be to take a few private lessons, and find out what your capabilities were before giving up an employment of which you are sure.


Annie James.—People are usually asked to sing at concerts. You may be sure, when they know you can sing, you will soon be asked; but if you find any occasion when you think it would be an act of kindness to volunteer to do so, there is nothing to prevent your giving your assistance.

Snowdrop, No. 100.—You have begun singing too early. Get an opinion at an eye or ear infirmary, or a good experienced doctor. Your writing is particularly good.


Gwen H. M.—Express your regret at having forgotten yourself and spoken in temper disrespectfully to your mistress. You can do no more; but she can be compelled to give you a character, although giving her own version of the cause of your dismissal.

Inquisitive.—The 18th of January, 1872, was a Thursday, and the 14th of March a Thursday. Reverse the method you have adopted of making heavy upper strokes and light down ones.

Dots.—The words “speciality” and “specialty” are synonymous, and may both be used; but the former is adopted by our best writers—as, for example, the novelists Bulwer-Lytton, and Dickens, the poet Elizabeth B. Browning, and the theological historian, Hooker. Nevertheless, Shakespeare says “specialty,” but that may have been the old word of a former age, and such could not govern modern usages.

Regretful need not feel unhappy about a kindly act of sympathy. The letter was doubtless written in suitable terms. Her verses have a good deal of prettiness and sweetness about them; but she needs to study the rules of metrical composition, as a good many errors appear in her lines. We direct her attention to previous answers.

A. M. L.—1. We are perpetually telling our girls that it is very unladylike for them to walk out alone with men unless engaged to them, and with the knowledge and consent of their parents. Even if you could not take the trouble of reading out answers to other girls on this subject, why do you not ask the opinion and advice of your mother or aunt, or any lady possessing ordinary common sense and acquaintance with the general rules of propriety. 2. Clean brass with cream of tartar made into a wet paste; brush off when dry, wash in boiling water, and rub with a chamois leather.

Little White Oss.—To remove grease from dresses, rub the spots with benzoline and hang them in the air. The word “catechism” is derived from the Greek, and signifies a form of oral instruction in the rudiments of knowledge by way of question and answer. The oral instructions delivered by the early Christian priests to their converts were written down first in the eighth or ninth centuries, the present Church of England Catechism in 1551, and was added to and altered in 1604 by the order of James I. We do not admire your selection of a name. “White Rabbit” or “White Mouse” would have been preferable.

Picaninny.—We are glad to hear you have found the G. O. P. so useful. Use gloves.

Ira.—We are much obliged, and regret we cannot make use of them.

An Anxious One (Leeds) should consult a doctor without delay.

Isca Wellesley.—How could you so far forget yourself as to send flowers to a strange man? You cannot bow to any man, “peculiar” or not, if he have not been introduced to you. Is it possible that you thought of bowing to a man with whom you were not acquainted? We think your mother would feel tempted to box your ears if she knew that you did!

A. J. M.—The certificates are all dated Lady Day, 1886. You make a mistake. We think it unnecessary fault finding.

Little Gherkins.—1. Although your verses are rather too irregular to be put into the G. O. P., there is much humour about them, and they afforded us a good laugh, for which we thank you, and wish you health to enjoy the paper we provide for you for many a day. 2. Write to the secretary of the convalescent home at Walton-on-Thames, at the office, 32, Sackville-street, W. Admission is free. Get a letter from your doctor to recommend you, and they will take you in for three weeks’ change of air.

Scotia.—1. It is impossible to make smoke pictures indelible. They should be mounted in deep mounts and framed if worth preserving. 2. The origin of acting as “gooseberry” is found in the unsatisfactory office of a gooseberry gatherer, who undertakes the trouble and bears all the scratching from the thorns for the delectation of others. Thus, the “gooseberry” is the person who, for propriety sake, accompanies two lovers, and is expected to hear, see, and say nothing—i.e., have all the toil and the dulness without the pleasure of companionship.

Hattie is probably diminutive for Harriet. We do not understand your question.

Tie.—The Italian for “How do you do” is “Come sta?” the French, “Comment vous partez-vous?” the German, “Wie befinden sie sich?” The translation of the Latin, “De mortuis,” etc., is, “Of the dead say nothing but good.”

Discontented should not worry herself over little disadvantages, for which she is in no way responsible. If so plain as she imagines, it would be well to cultivate beauty in the character, the temper, and the manners. Many plain people make themselves most attractive by the sweetness of their expression and the kindliness of their actions, small as well as great. Cut your nails once a week.

The Girl’s Own Paper, Vol. VIII, No. 359, November 13, 1886

No comments: