A week ago, I found a book in my closet that I had never seen before. Printed in 1884, it is entitled The Universal Household Assistant or What Every One Should Know. It's "a cyclopedia of practical information" and has subjects listed in alphabetical order. Following are some of my favorite entries:

From the The Universal Household Assistant or What Every One Should Know (1884) Order Book

The Universal Household Assistant, A Cyclopedia of What Everyone Should Know, by Samuel H. Burt

Cancer - cure.

Take the blossoms of red clover and make tea of them, and drink freely. It will cure cancer in the stomach as well as on the surface.

Choking - ways to relieve.

Do not lose an instant. Force the mouth open with the handle of a knife or of a long spoon; push the thumb and fingers deep down into the throat beyond the root of the tongue, and feel for the foreign body. If the obstruction cannot be grasped, a hair pin bent into a hook and guided by the left hand will often bring it out. If this fails, get someone to press against the front of the chest or support it against the edge of a table, and strike several hard, quick blows with open hand on the back between the shoulder blades. Further treatment must be applied by a physician, who should have been immediately sent for

2. To prevent choking, break an egg into a cup and give it to the person choking, to swallow. The white of the egg seems to catch around the obstacle and remove it. If one egg does not answer the purpose, try another. The white is all that is necessary.

3. A smart blow with the flat of the hand on the back just below the neck will often relieve the windpipe. If it does not, send for the doctor at once.

4. Foreign bodies lodged in the throat can be removed by forcibly blowing into the ear. The plan is so easily tried and so harmless that we suggest its use.

Dentists' Nerve Paste.

1. Arsenic, one part; rose pink, two parts. To destroy the nerve apply this preparation on a pledget of cotton, previously moistened with creosote, to the cavity of the tooth, let it remain four hours, then wash out thoroughly with water.

2. Arsenous acid, thirty grains; acetate of morphia, twenty grains; creosote, quantity sufficient for paste. Mix.

Embalming - new method of.

Mix together five pounds dry sulphate of alumine, one quart of warm water, and one hundred grains arsenious acid. Inject three or four quarts of this mixture into all the vessels of the human body. This applies as well to all animals, birds, fishes, etc. This process supercedes the old and revolting mode, and has been introduced into the great anatomical schools of Paris.

Guano - home-made.

Save all your fowl manure from sun and rain. To prepare it for use, spread a layer of dry swamp muck (the blacker it is the better) on your barn floor, and dump on it the whole of your fowl manure; beat it into a fine powder with the back of your spade; this done, add hard wood ashes and plaster of Paris, so that the compound shall be composed of the following proportions: Dried muck, four bushels; fowl manure, two bushels; ashes, one bushel; plaster, one and one-half bushels. Mix thoroughly, and spare no labor; for, in this matter, the effort expended will be well paid for. A little before planting, moisten the heap with water, or, better still, with urine; cover well over with old mats, and let it lie till wanted for use. Apply it to beans, corn, or potatoes, at the rate of a handful to a hill; and mix with the soil before dropping the seed. This will be found the best substitute for guano ever invented, and may be depended on for bringing great crops of turnips, corn, potatoes, etc.

Hysterics - cure for.

The fit may be prevented by the administration of thirty drops of laudanum, and as many of ether. When it has taken place open the windows, loosen the tight parts of the dress, sprinkle cold water on the face, etc. A glass of wine or cold water when the patient can swallow. Avoid excitement and tight lacing.

Mites in Cheese - to destroy.

1. These are at all times better avoided than destroyed, for when they have become very numerous they do a great deal of damage in a short time. To avoid mites the best plan seems to be to leave the cheese exposed to the air, and to brush it occasionally; some prefer wrapping the cheese in a buttered paper, but the former plan, we think is the best. When mites have become very numerous, they may be killed by suspending the cheese by a piece of wire or string, and dipping it for a moment into a pail of boiling water. The boiling water will kill all the mites, and do no harm to the cheese unless it is left in too long.

2. Cheese kept in a cool larder or cellar, with a cloth rung out of clean, cold water constantly upon it, will never have mites in it, or if it has, this will soon destroy them, and also greatly improve the cheese, keeping it always moist.

Nitrous Oxide, or Laughing Gas.

Take two or three ounces of nitrate of ammonia in crystals and put it into a retort, taking care that the heat does not exceed five hundred degrees; when the crystals begin to melt, the gas will be produced in considerable quantities. The gas may be also produced, though not so pure, by pouring nitric acid, diluted with five or six times it [sic] weight of water, on copper fillings or small pieced of tin. The gas is given out till the acid begins to turn brown; the process must then be stopped.

Opium and its Uses.

Opium is a stimulant, narcotic, and anodyne. Used externally, it acts almost as well as when taken into the stomach, and without affecting the head of causing nausea. Applied to irritable ulcers in the form of tincture, it promotes their cure and allays pain. Clothes dipped in a strong solution, and applied over painful bruises, tumors, or inflamed joints, allays pain. A small piece of solid opium stuffed into a hollow tooth relieves toothache. Two drops of the wine of opium dropped into the eye acts as an excellent stimulant in bloodshot eye, or after long-continued inflammation, it is useful in strengthening the eye. Applied as a liniment, in combination with ammonia or oil, or with camphorated spirit, it relieves muscular pain. When combined with oil of turpentine, it is useful as a liniment in spasmodic colic. Used internally, it acts as a very powerful stimulant, then as a sedative, and finally as an anodyne and narcotic, allaying pain in the most extraordinary manner, by acting directly upon the nervous system.

In acute rheumatism it is a most excellent medicine, when combined with calomel and tartarate of antimony; but its exhibition requires the judicious care of a medical man.

Doses of the various preparations. - Confection of opium, from five grains to half a dram; extract of opium, from one to five grains (this is a valuable form, as it does not produce so much after-derangement of the nervous system as solid opium); pills of soap and opium, from five to ten grains; compound ipecacuanha powder (Dover's powders), from five to twenty grains, compound kino powder, from five to twenty grains; wine of opium, from ten minim to one dram.

Caution. - Opium is a powerful poison when taken in too large a quantity, and therefore should be used with extreme caution.

Sealing-wax (Red).

Shellac (very pale), four ounces; cautiously melt in a bright copper pan over a clear charcoal fire; when fused, add Venice turpentine, one and one-fourth ounces. Mix, and further add vermilion, three ounces; remove the pan from the fire, and pour into a mold. For a black color, use ivory black, or lampblack, instead of the vermilion; for a blue color, use Prussian blue, instead of vermilion, same quantity. Each color must be well mixed with the composition; of the lampblack, use only sufficient to color.

Small-pox - cure for.

A physician writes: I am willing to risk my reputation as a public man, if the worst case of small-pox cannot be cured in three days simply by cream of tartar. This is a never-failing remedy: One ounce of cream of tartar, dissolved in one pint of boiling water, to be taken when cold. Dose, two tablespoonfuls every two hours. It is also a preventive; dose, as before, three times a day. It has cured thousands, never leaves a mark, never causes blindness, and avoids tedious lingering.

Soup for Invalids.

Raw beef, on account of its ready digestibility, is often prescribed for invalids. Of late, European physicians have found the use of what we may call raw soup of great utility when given to patients much reduced by fevers. This soup, first proposed by Liebig, is made from finely chopped beef or fowl, recently killed. Half a pound of this meet [sic] is added to a pint and a half of distilled water (pure rain water, filtered, will answer), four drops of pure muriatic acid are added, and a teaspoonful of salt, or enough to suit the taste. After standing an hour, the whole is thrown upon a hair sieve (a flannel bag will do as well) to separate the liquid. If the first liquid which passes through is muddy, it is poured back into the strainer until what runs off is quite clear. When the liquid ceases to run, half a pint of water is added, in small quantities at a time, to the flesh in the strainer. The yield will be about a pint of a reddish colored liquid, tasting like soup, which is to be given cold, a cupful at a time, or in such quantities as the patient desires. It is claimed that this soup contains the nutritive principles of the meat not changed by heat, as they are in cooking, and that they are part ready digested by the muriatic acid, and that it is suited to the weakest digestive organs. If the red color and somewhat fleshy odor are objected to, the one may be disguised by caramel (burnt sugar) and the other by a little wine. The soup spoils readily, and in warm weather must be kept on ice.

Tape Worm.

To expel this parasite, take equal parts of tincture assafoetida and tincture absinthii, in teaspoonful doses, night and morning. No fasting is necessary.

Headache — new remedy for. —

A new remedy for headache has been found by Dr. Haley, an Australian physician, who says that for some years past he has found minimum doses of iodine of potassium of great service in frontal headache; that is, a heavy, dull headache, situated over the brow, and accompanied by languor, chilliness, and a feeling of general discomfort, with distaste for food, which sometimes approaches to nausea, can be completely removed by a two-grain dose dissolved in half a wineglassful of water, and this quietly sipped, the whole quantity being taken in about ten minutes. In many cases, he adds, the effect of these small doses has been simply wonderful, as, for instance, a person, who a quarter of an hour ago was feeling most miserable, and refused all food, wishing only for quietness, would now take a good meal and resume his wonted cheerfulness.

Headache and Cold Feet. —

There are many who suffer from headaches and cold feet. If they would plunge their feet in cold water every morning, and use the flesh-brush every night, it would relieve them both.

Headache — several cures for. —

1. Coarse brown paper soaked in vinegar and placed on the forehead is good for a sick headache. If the eyelids are gently bathed in cold water the pain in the head is generally allayed.

2. In Potosi the most violent headaches, so very common there, are cured by putting the feet in hot water.

3. A mixture of ice and salt in proportion of one to one-half, applied to the head, frequently gives instant relief from acute headache. It should be tied up in a small linen cloth, like a pad, and held as near as possible to the seat of the pain.

4. We have known some extreme cases of headache cured in half an hour by taking a teaspoonful of finely powdered charcoal in half a tumbler of water. It is an innocent yet powerful alkali.

5. For sick-headache, take a tumbler two-thirds full of finely crushed ice, the juice of one lemon, and one teacupful of white sugar. The mixture, eaten by degrees, or all at once, will allay the feverish thirst, and quiet the disturbed, qualmish stomach, as it is not sweet enough to be nauseous.

6. Sick headache can often be greatly relieved, and sometimes entirely cured, by the application of a mustard plaster at the base of the neck. The plaster should not be kept on more than a quarter of an hour.

Headache (Billious) — cure for. —

Dissolve and drink two teaspoonfuls of finely-powdered charcoal in half a tumbler of water; it will relieve in fifteen minutes. Take a seidlitz powder an hour afterward.

Headache (Nervous) — relief for. —

Many persons find speedy relief for nervous headache by washing the hair thoroughly in weak soda water. I have known severe cases almost wholly cured in ten minutes by this simple remedy. A friend finds it the greatest relief in cases of "rare cold," the cold symptoms entirely leaving the eyes and nose after one thorough washing of the hair. The head should be thoroughly dried afterward, and avoid draughts of air for a little while.

Cockroaches — ways to destroy. —

1. The disagreeable odor which the cockroach emits, and which soon permeates all places that it inhabits, proceeds from a dark colored fluid which it discharges from the mouth. The cockroach loves warmth and moisture, hence its populousness in kitchens where fire and water are almost ever present. It is a night prowler, and swarms out from its secret lairs on the departure of daylight.

For the destruction of the cockroach we recommend a mixture containing a tablespoonful of red lead, the same amount of indian meal, with molasses enough to make a thick batter. Set this on a plate at night in places frequented by the insects and all that eat of it will be poisoned. Another preparation is composed of one teaspoonful of powdered arsenic, with a tablespoonful of mashed potato. Crumble this every night at bed-time where the insects will find it, and it is said to be an effectual poison. Great care should be exercised in the use of such dangerous agents. An innocent method of destroying cockroaches is to place a bowl or basin containing a little molasses on the floor at night. A bit of wood, resting one end on the floor and the other on the edge of the vessel, serves as a bridge to conduct the insects to the sweet deposit. Once in the trap its slippery sides prevent retreat, and thus cockroaches may be caught by the thousands.

2. The following i said to be effectual: these vermin are easily destroyed, simply by cutting up green cucumbers at night, and placing them about where roaches commit depredations. What is cut from the cucumbers in preparing them for the table answers the purpose as well, and three applications will destroy all the roaches in the house. Remove the peelings in the morning and renew them at night.

3. Common red wafers, to be found at any stationers, will answer the purpose. The cockroaches eat them and die. Also, sprinkle powdered borax plentifully around where "they most do congregate," and renew it occasionally; in a short time not a roach will be seen. This is a safe and most effectual exterminator.

4. Borax is a very good cockroach exterminator. Take some pieces of board, spread them over with molasses, only sufficient to make the borax when sprinkled upon it stick, and place the boards in their haunts. Gum camphor is a speedy remedy to clear the house of cockroaches.

Lamps — why they explode. —

Many things may occur to cause the flame to pass down the wick tube and explode the lamp.

1. A lamp may be standing on a table or mantle, and a slight puff of air from the open window or the sudden opening of a door, cause an explosion.

2. A lamp may be taken quickly from a table or mantle, and instantly explode.

3. A lamp is taken into an entry where there is a draft, or out of doors, and an explosion quickly ensues.

4. A lighted lamp may be taken up a flight of stairs, or is raised quickly to a place on the mantle, resulting in an explosion. In all these cases the mischief is caused by the air movement -- either by suddenly checking the draft, or forcing the air down the chimney against the flame.

5. Blowing down the chimney to extinguish the light is frequently the cause of an explosion.

6. Lamp explosions have been caused by using a chimney broken off the top, or one that has a piece broken out, whereby the draft is rendered variable and the flame unsteady.

7. Sometimes a thoughtless person puts a small-sized wick in a large burner, thus leaving considerable space in the tube along the edges of the wick.

8. An old burner with its air drafts clogged up, which rightfully should be thrown away, is sometimes continued in use, and the final result is an explosion.

Toast and Water. —

This is the most wholesome, and, if properly made, palatable drink for children and invalids. Toast two or three thin slices of bread thoroughly, until they are quite dry and of a red-brown color — not burned. Pour boiling water on them, and add a small piece of lemon peel. When cold, strain off into a jug for use.

Guano — test for its purity. —

The weight affords the easiest test for the purity of guano. A bushel of pure Peruvian guano, according to most authorities, should weigh almost exactly seventy pounds. If heavier than seventy-three pounds, it is adulterated with clay, sand, marl, or some other impurity.

Things to try. —

Try popcorn for nausea.

Try cranberries for malaria.

Try a sun-bath for rheumatism.

Try ginger ale for stomach cramps.

Try clam broth for a weak stomach.

Try cranberry poultice for erysipelas.

Try a wet towel to the back of the neck when sleepless.

Try swallowing saliva when troubled with sour stomach.

Try eating fresh radishes and yellow turnips for gravel.

Try eating onions and horseradish to relieve dropsical swellings.

Try buttermilk for removal of freckles, tan, and butternut stains.

Try taking your cod liver oil in tomato catsup, if you want to make it palatable.

Try hard cider -- a wine-glass three times a day -- for ague and rheumatism.

Try taking a nap in the afternoon if you are going to be out late in the evening.

Try breathing the fumes of turpentine or carbolic acid to remove whooping cough.

Try a cloth wrung out from cold water put about the neck at night for sore throat.

Try snuffing powdered borax up the nostrils for catarrhal "cold in the head."

Try walking with your hands behind you if you find yourself becoming bent forward.

Try a silk handkerchief over the face when obliged to go against a cold piercing wind.

Try planting sunflowers in your garden if compelled to live in a malarial district.

Ringworm — remedy for. —

When the disease does not come from direct contagion, children are generally in a poor state of blood, and good living, sea air, and tonic medicines are of great benefit. The following application will frequently be found of much service: Wash the part effected with a little lemon juice; then rub in with the finger a little gunpowder which has been bruised in a mortar. Do this gently about twice a day. Be very careful not to make the skin sore.

Worms — treatment of. —

Some members of the profession still cling with bull-dog tenacity to the opinion that worms do not affect the health of children, and that they are natural to them. The latter may or may not be true, but when they accumulate in the intestines, they produce the same disturbance that any foreign, indigestible substance would do. We find the picking of the nose, swollen lower eye-lids, restlessness in sleep, groaning, gritting teeth, starting, and lastly, spasms.

Worms kill more children than teething*; and when you find the above symptoms with a strawberry tongue and a fever, which will attack several times daily, going off as frequently in cold sweats, you can swear that you have a case of worms, and had as well prepare and attack them.

Now as to the best means of getting rid of them. I use the fluid extract of senna and spigelia in teaspoon doses for patients of eight or ten years of age, and less in proportion, night and morning, for three nights and days, following this up each morning with a good dose of castor oil, provided the senna and spigelia does not act. Then wait three days, and again institute the same proceedings, and for the same length of time.

This treatment is for the lumbricoid. For the oxyuris, or "thread worm," I see any bitter infusion by enema, sulph, quinine, followed by an enema of common salt and milk-warm water half an hour afterward, which will destroy and expel them.

The symptoms of the presence of the worm are the same as the scratching of the anus. If every practitioner will use these he will be gratified by the restoration to immediate health of many a little sufferer, who would otherwise linger in sickness for many months and perhaps eventually die.

Worms in Horses — to cure. —

A remedy for worms in a horse which has never failed of a cure is to take half a cup of pure, hard wood ashes, finely sifted and mixed dry with the mash or food. If one dose should not prove sufficient, repeat it after a day or two.

Worm Lozenges. —

Powdered lump sugar, ten ounces; starch, five ounces; mix with mucilage; and to every ounce add twelve grains of calomel; divide into twenty grain lozenges. Dose, two to six.

Worm Medicines. —

1. Two tablespoonfuls of pumpkin seeds peeled and pulverized, or given to a child who will chew fine. The seed does not kill, but stupefies the worm. The next day give castor oil or any other cathartic, and if the worms are present in the system they will pass off.

2. Make an infusion in the proportion of one pint of boiling water to one ounce of dried hyssop flowers; let it stand ten minutes; pour it off into a wine bottle, and take a wine-glass, or rather less, according to age, two or three times a day.

Uterine Hemorrhage — unfailing cure. —

sugar of lead, ten grains; ergot, ten grains; opium, three grains; ipecac, one grain; all pulverized, and well mixed. Dose, ten to twelve grains; given in a little honey or syrup.

In very bad cases after childbirth, it might be repeated in thirty minutes, or the dose increased to fifteen or eighteen grains; but in cases of rather profuse wasting, repeat it once at the end of three hours, or as the urgency of the case may require.

In every case of female debility make liberal use of iron, as the want of iron in the system is often the cause of the trouble. Mix fine iron filings with as much ground ginger. Dose, half a teaspoon three times daily in a little honey or molasses, increasing or lessening the dose to produce a blackness of the stools. Continue this course until well. Do not try this at home.

Household Hints. —

Do not deposit wood ashes in a wooden vessel or upon a wooden floor.

Never use a light in examining a gas-meter.

Never take a light into a closet.

Never read in bed by candle or lamp light.

Never put kindling wood on top of the stove to dry.

Never leave clothes near a grate or fire-place to dry.

Be careful in making fire with shavings, and never user any kind of oil to kindle a fire.

Keep all lights as far from curtains as possible.

Always fill and trim your lamps by daylight, and never near a fire.

Good nice pie-crust can be made by always observing the following rule. One-quarter of a cup of shortening to every cup of flour used; to be mixed as dry as possible with cold water, and mixed only with a knife.

Take sweet butter only for baking purposes, and never fail to thoroughly beat together your butter and sugar, if you would be sure of good results in cake baking.

Have metal or earthen vessels for matches, and keep them out of reach of children. Wax matches are not safe.

Ground mustard mixing with a little water is an excellent agent for cleansing the hands after handling odorous substances.

Cut hot bread or cake with a hot knife, and it will not be clammy.

Salt extracts the juices of meat in cooking. Steaks ought therefore not be salted until they have been broiled.

In boiling dumplings of any kind, put them in the water one at a time. If they are put in together they will mix with each other.

Do not cut lamp-wicks, but trim them by wiping off with a scrap of paper.

Never boil vegetables with soup stock, for if you do it will certainly become sour in a short time.

Boil your cream for coffee, and see if the coffee will not taste better, as well as keep hot longer.

Pin-cushion covers made of cheese cloth embroidered and trimmed with lace, wear well and keep their looks.

Some one says that leaves of parsley, eaten with a little vinegar, will destroy the odor of breath tainted by onions.

Hot liquid lye is recommended for removing obstructions in waste pipes. Or let the potash dissolve over night in the pipes.

To wipe dust from papered walls, take a clean, soft piece of flannel. Of course it must not be damp, but the dry flannel will remove the dust.

Varnish the soles of your shoes, and it will render them impervious to dampness, and will also make them last longer. This is a good plan.

Clean the mica in stove doors with vinegar. Take clinkers out of stoves by putting a few oyster shells into the grate, when they will become loosened, and may be removed without injuring the lining.

Save the droppings from spermaceti candles, tie them in a cloth, and keep to smooth rough flat-irons.

Never starch napkins.

An old black bunting or cashmere dress may be made to serve a further period of usefulness by being made into a petticoat.

Between two evils choose neither.

Writing a will does not shorten life, and yet many men fear it will.

Save old suspender rings, and sew them on the corners of kitchen holders to hang them by. It will be easy then to flip them on to a nail, and they will not be so likely to get lost.

Powdered borax with a little sugar, blown into the cracks and crevices with a small bellows, will drive away house-ants.

Have a high stool in the kitchen to sit on when tired, to continue your work if necessary. Perched on its top you can wash dishes or iron with ease. A low stool placed on a wooden chair forms a substitute, but a poor one. A soft sheep-skin mat is restful to stand upon.

There is nothing better for cleaning brass or copper than coal ashes. They are also good to scour knives and forks with. For tin, whiting or fine sand is best.

To cleanse jars or jugs or any earthen vessel slaked lime is good, or warmed lye.

To keep a stove smooth, take a coarse and pretty large piece of flannel, roll it hard, and dip it in fine sand. Proceed to rub your stove whenever you are through cooking. Almost any stove will look better for being done the same way occasionally. Boiled starch is also very good to keep a stove looking well; put it on where it will not burn off — around the back and sides where it doesn't get very hot.

Health — secrets for. —

First, keep warm. Second, eat regularly and slowly. Third, maintain regular bodily habits. Fourth, take early and very light suppers, or, better still, none at all. Fifth, keep a clear skin. Sixth, get plenty of sleep at night. Seventh, keep a cheerful and respectable company. Eight, keep out of debt. Ninth, don't set your mind on things you don't need. Tenth, mind your own business. Eleventh, don't set up to be a sharp of any kind. Twelfth, subdue curiosity. (I love the last one: Trust us, you really don't want to know.)