28 February 2018 Posted By : Administrator

3 Lessons We Can Learn From The Victorian Era

The Victorian era has more to teach us than how to lace ourselves up in a corset and avoid corporal punishment in school. Here are three important lessons we can learn from this era:

1. How to maintain a healthy diet

Even the working class living in the Victorian age had a strong, healthy diet. Meat was expensive, so they didn’t use it as a main dish. They also didn’t have refined sugar at the time. Their main source of food was fruit and vegetables. Most people had kitchen gardens, providing them with an abundant supply of healthy food, full of the vitamins and minerals they needed.

According to blogger Rebecca DiLiberto, “They enjoyed an abundant supply of all-weather vegetables such as cabbage and watercress, which are great sources of Vitamin K that act as natural anti-coagulants; onions, which supply biotin and Vitamin B-6; and beets, which can help lower blood pressure. Seasonally, they also ate apples and cherries, which are loaded with fiber and vitamin C.”

They didn’t have all the packaged and imported food we have today, so eating what was available seasonally – as nature intended – kept them healthy.

2. How to design beautiful jewelry

Some of the most beautiful antique jewelry designs came from Victorian England. Queen Victoria, coronated in 1837, loved jewelry. She frequently designed and gave jewelry as gifts for years. Her passion influenced the entire jewelry trade of London throughout her lifetime. She’s also responsible for making charm bracelets popular.

In Victoria’s era, the rarest pieces of jewelry were hand-carved, semi-precious gem cameos. Some cameos were even more rare, and carved out of lava from Mt. Vesuvius. When shell cameos were introduced, they grew in popularity because shells were easier to carve than gems, making them more affordable.

Many Victorian pieces can still be found today, through businesses like The Three Graces. Victorian pieces stand out from contemporary designs due to the materials used and their hand-crafted nature. Although diamonds are beautiful, nothing is more exquisite than a hand-carved cameo.

3. How to be effective with helping the poor

A French diplomat named Tocqueville visited England while the Poor Law was being debated, and wrote A Memoir on Pauperismto share his experiences and insight. He observed what appeared to be a paradox: the poorest countries in Europe had the fewest paupers while England – the richest country – had the most. This discrepancy wasn’t a paradox, however, and was easily explained.

England had a higher standard of living, which included high standards for meeting everyone’s basic needs. The sentiment to meet those standards for all citizens was well intentioned, but the extreme generosity of (and legal right to) public relief created the large number of paupers.

Tocqueville explained why in his paper, “The recipient of charity has no assurance of assistance; the recipient of relief has that assurance. And it is that assurance, the right to relief, that undermines the incentive to work and thus tends to pauperize the poor. By guaranteeing the means of subsistence as a legal right to all, England relieved the poor of the obligation to work and thus made paupers of so many of the poor.”

Tocqueville wasn’t against helping people – he just noticed that the right to relief didn’t empower anyone. Where most rights testified to the individual’s superiority, he saw the right to relief as a demeaning, public testimony to the individual’s inferiority.

Charity is different from relief

Tocqueville pointed out that charity is an individual, voluntary act that creates a “moral tie” between the donor and receiver. With charity, the recipient feels gratitude for an unexpected and kind gesture. Relief, on the other hand, is impersonal. Relief funds are contributed by taxpayers who often resent their involuntary contribution, and the recipient has no reason to feel grateful for what they know to be their legal right.

A solution was created

When the new Poor Law of 1834 was passed, it came with stipulations that discouraged laborers from becoming paupers, and encouraged paupers to work. While laborers received decent relief to supplement their wages, paupers received very little. In order to stigmatize pauperism, paupers had to receive their relief through workhouses, which were less respectable than working a regular job.

Workhouses provided the poor with a place to live, work and earn money, free medical care, clothes, and education. However, workhouses were feared by almost everyone. Upon entering a workhouse, families were split up and punished for talking to each other. Jobs were hard and unpleasant, the food was bland day after day, and everyone had to wear a uniform, which told the rest of society they were poor.

Thanks, Victoria

After reading these lessons, if you still want to cinch yourself up in a corset, be prepared to do a ton of lacing first.

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