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TALES FROM AROUND THE VICTORIAN WORLD.

YOUR VICTORIAN HUB FOR ALL THOSE LOST TALES OF VICTORIAN LIVES PAST

What are Nardoo Stones?

Taken from ‘Little Folks a Magazine for the Young.’ of 1890.

(A typical Victorian explorer’s and writer’s supercilious take on natives living in their own country.)

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‘The Nardoo is a plant that belongs to Australia..As it yields food supplies to the natives of the Darling and other districts where it is found, it is regarded as valuable. The natives are amongst the least civilised of human beings, and it is interesting to note that they use stone for grinding the nardoo seeds into flour, just as the remote ancestors of the British folk used hand-stones to grind their corn. The nardoo hand-stones are called wallong, by the natives. They are round or oval and of various sizes, the largest being 6 inches in length, 41/2 broad, and 3 inches thick. They have hollows cut in them to enable the hand to grasp them more easily. In grinding grass or seeds a little water is sprinkled by the left hand, while the stone in the right hand grinds the seeds until they form a sort of gruel which runs off the sandstone slab by a channel into a piece of bark, or a wooden bowl. The mess is then baked in ashes, or eaten as it is, the native using his crooked forefinger as a spoon.’

The History of a Statue

(I wonder if this statue was ever created? I can find no reference to it at all. But then again, during WWII 60% of Kaiserslautern was destroyed by allied bombing! How different the world might have been had Frederick lived)

                      Taken from ‘Little Folks a Magazine for the Young’ of 1890.

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‘When the late Emperor Frederick was Crown Prince of Germany he visited an orphan asylum in the town of Kaiserslautern. Noticing an ailing, sad-looking boy amongst the inmates, he took him in his arms and promised to be his god-father. The poor child, rather frightened at first at the affection of a stranger, at length grew very friendly with the Prince, and began to play with the medals and other decorations on the distinguished visitor’s breast. Then some years afterwards Frederick became German Emperor, a post which he filled for only a few months, when he died to the grief of the whole world. The folk of Kaiserslautern resolving to raise a statue to his memory, decided that it should represent the Prince with the baby in his arms tugging at the medals and crosses. Considering how many statues are erected nowadays that possess neither interest nor merit, this one will at all events be interesting. Let us hope it will be meritorious as well.’

May-day Hymn on Magdalen Tower

(Nowadays, I believe the little ‘ragamuffins’ simply hurl themselves into the river)

Taken from ‘Little Folks a Magazine for the Young’ dated 1890.

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‘Every May-day morning, at five o’clock, a Latin hymn is sung on the top of the beautiful tower of Magdalen College, Oxford, by the men and boys of College Chapel. after the grace, as the hymn is also called, the bells ring out a merry peal. Hundreds of sightseers are attracted to the spot. Hearers they cannot be called, for the urchins of the city cause such a din in the street by the blowing of small horns that the music aloft is heard only now and then above the tootle-tootle of the penny trumpets. It is not easy to tell how this May-day custom arose. Music of some kind, it is believed, has been sung on the tower top every first of May morning since the year 1498. There are those who say that by the early part of this century the climbing of the tower for the singing of the catches and other light music had become only an excuse of the choristers to annoy the folk below by pelting them with eggs and other missiles. The choir and horn boys have been at feud for many years, the latter having defied all the efforts of the police to bring about peace. Some authorities trace in this quaint ceremony an allusion to the feast of the goddess Maia of classic times; but others hold that, since the month is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the celebration was devised in her honour.’

Why the ‘Nutcrackers’ are so called.

(A nice bit of Victorian blood and gore for the littlun’s! )

Taken from ‘Little Folks a Magazine for the Young’ dated 1890.

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‘The famous regiment of Buffs, used also to be known as the 3rd Foot, once rejoiced for a while in the nickname of the “Nutcrackers.” This was after the battle of Albuera, which was fought on the 16th of May, 1811. In this terribly fierce conflict they attacked the Polish Lancers, whose heads they cracked. Then, after the fashion of the nut-cracking tool, they opened to avoid the charge of the Polish horse, and retreated. In a few minutes, however, they again took the field, and once more proceeded-like brave British soldiers-to fight with all their well-known courage for king and country.’

Pussy’s Value

Taken from ‘Little Folks a Magazine for the Young’ of 1890.

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‘Whatever might be the case nowadays, there was a  time when the cat was held in considerable honour in Wales. King Howel Dda,”the Good,” who died in 748, ordered that the price of a kitten before it could see was to be one penny. When it caught it’s first mouse its value became twopence, and the price was afterwards raised to fourpence. The Prince’s granary was guarded by cats, and if anyone slew or stole one of these watch-cats he was severely punished. He had either to forfeit a ewe, or to give up as much corn as would cover the cat when it was hung up by its tail.’

About a Famous Pie

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Taken from ‘Little Folks a Magazine for the Young’ of 1890.

“Sing a Song of Sixpence” is a favourite nursery rhyme; but every child who knows it probably thinks it is a rhyme and nothing more. It has a meaning, however, of a very beautiful kind. and I am sure you will be delighted with it.The twenty-four blackbirds are said to represent the twenty-four hours of the day.The bottom of the pie is supposed to be the world, and the top crust the sky. When the pie is opened day breaks, and the birds begin to sing; and then such a sight becomes a “dainty dish to set before the king.” The King counting money in his chamber is the sun, and the golden coins he so lovingly handles are golden sunbeams. The Queen in her parlour is the moon; and, of course, the honey represents moonlight. The busy maid in the garden is the peep of the day, the clothes which she hangs out are clouds, and the blackbirds that takes such a liberty with her nose is the sunset. And thus in the homily and prosaic figure of a pie we have a representation of a whole day.’

A Curious Race

Taken from ‘Little Folks; a magazine for the Young.’ 1890.

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‘In the north island of Japan and in some parts of the extreme north-east of Asia there lives an interesting race of people called Ainos. Where they came from nobody seems to know, for in many respects they are not at all like the Japanese and Chinese. The men are well built but rather under-sized, and their bodies are covered more or less thickly with hair. As the portrait in the New Heading shows, they wear long beards, and the hair of their head is also long and bushy. The women are not so well looking, as they have to do all the hard work of the tribe. The folk are not gifted with much intelligence, and they worship natural objects and animals, the bear being specially selected for this purpose. They spend their time in fishing and hunting. It is hard to tell what is the number of the Ainos. But they are not supposed to number more than 50,000 at the most, it is likely that they will sooner or later become extinct.’

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The Eyes of the Junk

.Taken from ‘Little Folks; the Magazine for the Young’ of 1890

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‘Why a boat should have eyes is probably not quite clear to you, but the Chinese sailor thinks them absolutely necessary. So the junks of the Flowery Land all have pairs of eyes painted on the side of their bows, and the native sailor will not sail in a vessel that has not got them. “For,” quoth he, “no have yes, no can see; no can see, no can go.” While sailing up the river Pei-ho to Pekin, Bishop fowler happened to sit in a free and easy way with his legs hanging over the side of the boat so that they covered one eye. He observed that the crew grew very uneasy, but could not make out the cause of their anxiety till at last they came to him and asked him to move his legs away, as the ship could not see to go!’

“Tinkle-Sweetie.”

Taken from ‘Little folks; A Magazine for the Young” 1890.

‘This is a nice name for an evening bell, is it not?

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 It sounds a great deal pleasanter than the “cover fire,” or curfew, of the Normans.

   Many years ago it was the custom in Edinburgh to have a bell rung at eight o’clock at night, as a sign that it was time to shut up the shops. Such a bell struck sweetly on the ears of the tired shopmen, and so they gave it its pretty name. But more prosy folk called it the “aucht (eight) hours’ bell.”

 

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