The American Pictorial Home Book
or Housekeeper's Encyclopedia - online book

A reference manual of household management in Victorian times.

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SIMPLICITY OF THE PRIMITIVE AGES.                     23
kinds of plenty without having to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow. This delightful period, however, could not last forever, and the earth became barren, and continued unfruitful until Ceres came, and taught the art of sewing, with several other useful inven­tions. The first she taught was Triptolemus, who communicated his instructions to his countrymen, the Athenians, whence the art was carried into Achia, and thence into Arcadia. Barley was the first grain that was used, and the invention of bread making is ascribed to Pann. The use of fire as an instrument of cooking must have been coeval with this invention of breads which being the most nec­essary of all kinds of food, was frequently used in a sense so com­prehensive as to include both meat and bread. It was by the Greeks baked under the ashes. In the primitive ages it was deemed unlaw­ful to eat flesh. When men began to depart from their primitive habits, the flesh of swine was the first that was eaten. For several ages it was pronounced unlawful to kill or slaughter an ox, from an estimate of their great value in assisting men to cultivate the ground; nor was it usual to kill young animals from a sentiment which considered it cruel to take away the life of those that had scarcely tasted the joys of existence. At this period no cooks were kept, and we learn from Homer that his ancient heroes prepared and dressed their own victuals. Ulysses excelled in lighting a fire, and Achilles was an adept in turning the spit. Art of living in every civilized country is pretty much the same. The instruments of cook­ing must, in a great degree, bear a striking resemblance to each other.
In training the young, the beauty of a well-ordered home is be­yond computation, for the mother presides over it. The first step that offers the sweet incense in domestic bliss on the domestic altar, for the happiness of those called her family, and kept perpetually burning from the fervent emanations of her unselfish, self-immolat­ing heart, or if her heart be wrung with anguish, she is still the same faithful being, knows no weariness nor abatement of interest in the welfare of her loved ones. It is in this home that parents can hold counsel and consider what measures are best for the government of their posterity. In this domain children can gather and gambol in the very exuberance of their young life in unmolested joyousness. It is here, after toiling through the day, the husband finds rest for his wearied frame, with his little ones full of frolic and glee around him. He feels that it is a sacred retreat, is thankful for his exemplary and affectionate wife, and bows his head in gratitude for his blessings. For there is nothing like a cheerful, happy home.