This 1897 book is entitled Stepping Stones to Happiness, and is authored by Harriet Prescott Spofford. It is a beautifully illustrated book of Victorian life.
The inside title page opens to a cameo photograph of Ms. Spofford. Her introductory remarks read: "In all ages, the search for happiness has been the ultimate aim and desire of human effort—happiness here and hereafter. Happiness is equally attainable to the poor and the rich, the youth and the veteran; and though multitudes have missed the path, Stepping Stones to Happiness will lead them back to the way, by which they may surely find it. May they, in return, extend loving help to other struggling wayfarers on the same journey."
As you can see in the first photo, the illustrations are wonderful. The lady shown has period clothing that is very refined. Many like this are within the text. Also depicted are gorgeous songbird studies by the illustrator, Hector Giacomelli, who was renowned for his aviary expertise and sweet bird engravings. Page 250 has a lovely full page engraving of a Negro Man playing his beloved banjo.
The inside contents deals with many facets of family life, as well as that concerning pet care, and household servants. The book is written in a conversational tone that is pleasing and comprehensive. For example, the section on Household Conduct includes topics such as: "the ideal household, managing and ruling, tyranny and its result in cunning, working together, daily cares, the hired housekeeper, the strong box, a vacation, schools for cooks, a radical procedure, old cookery books, ancient feasts, the peacock at banquets, a battle at table, some economies, the English woman's economy, saving on a small scale, old dishes, different kitchens, undreamed dishes, and the mushroom".
The section on The House in the Country details "necessary foresight, the Piazza, in the furnishing, the parlor, the library, the Rosillon House". Child care is also laid out: "other children, medicine rather than punishment, heredity, sparing the rod, loving children, they who really love children, troublesome children, keeping silence, amusing the small people, with pencil and paper, a new game, the story of Laddy's burglar".
A home in town also has many viewpoints: "owning the house, the sense of permanence, moving, inside the house, the vacation, advantages of town life, city children, music at home, the piano-forte, music abroad, the opera, shopping, in the street car, the cheery town, the city parlor, old china, the spinning wheel in the parlor, the distaff, the spinster, the advantages of a pound of cotton, society, the gay season, city window gardens". Oh so many angles of Victorian life are discussed, and how insightful they are indeed! It is amazing that women took these views to heart, and woe be it to one if they didn't follow societies running rules! The social networks were strictly governed by the ladies of society, and one had to conform to social norms and convections if they were to be admitted to the inner circles of those prestigious homes.
There is a section within that describes in great detail how the term "Lady" came to be. "The term lady had originally a signification that explains something of this ambition and pretense. It can claim either of two derivations; the one coming from the verb `to lift', meaning that a wife was lifted to her husband's rank, and in so far as she was made mistress of the house, had received a desirable elevation from her `previous condition of servitude'. The other derivation is from the Anglo-Saxon words that signify the daily delivery of the loaf to servants, guests, and beggars, thus implying the features that generally distinguish the idea of the lady to the present day—supposed dignity of marriage or of years, the wealth that makes it possible to dispense the loaf, the gentle civility or charity that does dispense it"....interesting history!
This hardbound, heavy book has dark green cloth-covered boards with a black imprinted illustrated cover. The title is gilt with red outlines. The inside and outside of the book are in VG++ condition with light wear to the cover boards, corners, and spine, as is customary for a book of its age. The inside pages are unmarked and quite clean with minimal wear. Inside front hinge paper has some cracking (again the usual), back hinge is intact, and the text block is tight. About 500 pages, with many, many lovely illustrations. Overall size is large at 7 x 9 inches. It really is a fascinating look at Victorian society.