Victorian taste varied widely according to social class and the not-always-closely-related matter of economic status. To begin with, many members of the nobility and land-owning gentry, who lived in homes their families had occupied for centuries, found themselves surrounded by Elizabethan, Jacobean and 18th-century furnishings, and unless they were self-consciously interested in contemporary taste, they were often unlikely to replace perfectly good furniture or silver, however old and out-of-fashion, with any examples of new taste. A conservative, prosperous, but not particularly wealthy member of the squierarchy, like Ralph Carbury of Trollope’s The Way We Live Now, had no fashionable furnishings. Similarly, members of the working classes, farm workers, and unemployed poor, who together made up far more than half of the Victorian population, did not have the resources to furnish their homes with properly Victorian things.
— George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History, Brown University
One of the books I’ve read in my research for “Campaign Furniture” is “Hints to Cadets, with a Few Observations on Military Service” by Lt. T. Postans (Wm. H. Allen Co., 1842). I thought the book might discuss the things that cadets should purchase, such as barracks furniture, for a tour in India.
I was wrong. He spends about a paragraph on that.
Most of the book is how to prepare you psychologically for the journey. How to be tolerant of other cultures and religions. How not to make an ass of yourself in India.
But one of the tools Postans thinks cadets should bring is a drawing pad and instruments, to record the landscape and the cadet’s surroundings in the quiet hours.
You can find it on GoogleBooks, though you might find it a cure for insomnia. I, however, found it a surprising book.
In an age when it was the fashion both at court and elsewhere for the higher families to keep a household fool for the amusement of their visitors and themselves, the Lord of Muncaster had a noted one, who, like many a better fellow, was apt to resent an insult when he thought it was carried too far.
During those days when each feudal lord held jurisdiction over his manors, evil deeds were done and punished or passed over at the will of the lord.
Tom was a favourite with his master, and one hot day he found the castle joiner in his workshop taking a nap after dinner, with his head resting on a block of wood for a pillow.
Calling to mind the many instances of the joiner having made more sport of him than was agreeable, he took an axe and chopped off the joiner’s head, hiding it among the shavings. He then capered into the hall in great glee, saying—” When the joiner wakes he will have some trouble to find his head.”
It is said of that far-off time, that a good joiner was easier to find than a good fool, and Tom’s exploit was overlooked.
Cumbriana; Or, Fragments of Cumbrian Life – 1876
(Tom Skelton, aka Tom Fool, was a court jester of Muncaster Castle in the 16th century.)