Friday, December 10, 2010

Nineteenth Century Christmas Wish List—What a Lad Likes

Young ladies weren’t the only ones thinking about what Mama and Papa might be cozened into purchasing for Christmas. Home on break from schools like Eton and Harrow, the nineteenth century young man would be thinking about his future, and perhaps fondly remembering his past, when the school room was all he need be captain of and the most pressing matter was lining up his toy soldiers just so. Given that, what might a nineteenth century teen put on his Christmas list:

--A chess set. Perhaps with some practice even Father will do down in defeat!

--The Iliad in Greek. Learning those old languages has to be good for something, and what better than a rousing adventure of war?

--A dashing waistcoat. A fellow has to get out sometime, and he might as well look bang up to the mark while doing so.

--A multicaped greatcoat. Because it gets terribly cold at school. Oh, does it look just like the one the stage coach driver wears? Hadn’t noticed.

--A toy train. For collection purposes, you understand. It looks well on a mantel, I’m told.

--Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Bit of a girly book, really, but everyone is quoting them. Even the most standoffish young lady is said to swoon when you read her No. 43: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”

--Reliable transportation. Think how much more convenient for Mother not to have to loan out the carriage and driver or detour from her own amusements to drive you around. Really, it’s entirely for her benefit.

What am I getting for the two young men in my life? I’ll never tell. How about you?


Vicky said...

It's not very nineteenth century, but I'm making crocheted Totoros. IF I can buckle down and get to work on them. Those endless rows of single crochet are getting very dreary.

I know nineteenth century women spent a lot of time sewing, but was knitting and crocheting popular at all among gentlefolk?

Marissa Doyle said...

Yes (along with tatting and embroidery and tapestry work and others) but it also depended on what you were working on when: it was all right to work on dainty embroidery or knitting lace mitts in company, but anything more utilitarian was left for when one was alone...or for the maid to take care of. Unless there was a war on, when it became fashionable to knit khaki socks and mufflers in public to show that you were "doing your bit". Even Victoria knit mufflers during the Crimean War.

Donna Hatch said...

If I were a 19th Century mother, I'd probably get my 15 year old and 12 year old boys warm hats, or perhaps new writing pads, or even a lovely new pen and a hamper full of food to take back with them to Harrow.

But my modern-day boys are getting remote control helicopters. Shhh. They don't know.

bethany said...

I used the last of my willpower hemming a cape for sister #2 and sister #3 I still need to put a fringe on her shawl. sorry bro's but you're getting store bought stuff

Marissa Doyle said...

My lad is getting the floor-length duster coat from J. Peterman that he's lusted over for years (I found one on eBay!) And books, of course.