Friday, November 28, 2008
So Much to be Thankful For!
Here in the States, many of us spent yesterday eating turkey and watching football. Guilty on the latter. We actually ate lasagna. My mom makes an outstanding lasagna. We won’t discuss what happens with turkey.
But on Thanksgiving Day, we’re supposed to think about that for which we are grateful. So I thought I’d list three things we have now that they didn’t have in the nineteenth century for which I am profoundly thankful:
1. Health care. We may complain about waiting times in doctor’s offices and the high cost of care, but at least we generally have access to some! Physicians were hard to come by in some parts of England in the nineteenth century, and midwives and apothecaries (pharmacists) had to treat everything from a toothache to cancer. It would be late in the nineteenth century before they even figured out that germs caused diseases much less how to cure them. Early in the nineteenth century, it was still fashionable to bleed a patient if you didn’t know what else to do. Even poor Princess Charlotte was bled several times during her pregnancy.
2. Indoor toilets. Yes, even in aristocratic mansions of Mayfair in the early nineteenth century you had outhouses in the back garden (artfully hidden, of course). If you needed to go in the night in winter, you either squatted over a chamber pot in your room or you hurried outside shivering all the way. And someone—your maid, your footman, had to empty that chamber pot in the morning. Night soil men came to clean out your outhouse periodically. Wouldn’t that be a lovely job?
3. Refrigeration. They certainly had ice houses and the finer homes had cold storage for meats and cheeses, but nothing kept for long. Live in London and fancy pheasant for your feast? You’d better hope someone had brought some up from the country that day. Seeing carriages covered in carcasses as they brought game to town would have made me reconsider my dining choices.
I’m also thankful for all of you for reading our blog and sharing your thoughts with us. So, what are you thankful for today?