The new path
[Title page] The new path, p. 
THE NEW PATH. AUGUST, 1865. HOW SHALL WE FURNISH OUR HOUSES? CURTAINS AND CARPETS. "THE Dutch have, perhaps, an inde- terminate idea that a curtain is not a cabbage. In Spain, they are all cur- tains-a nation of hangmen." This is Poe's dictum, in the essay quoted in our former paper on furniture. His sum- ming up: " The Hottentots and Kicka- poos are very well in their way; the Yankees alone are preposterous;" while near enough for his purpose to the truth, does not declare what estimate he had made of the capacity of the Yankees to use drapery. This capacity, it must be seen, is of the lowest order. There is no part of our house decoration that baffles more completely all efforts to make it seemly than the curtains. It is not strange that it should be so, for Americans have very little use for curtains. One rem- nant of the old traditions respecting them still lingers, but it is a remnant of tradition only. The last general useful- ness of them ceased when French bed- steads came into fashion, and bed-cur- tains were taken down as things no longer needed. Bed-curtains seem to have been the first draperies used in private residences; beginning our reckoning with the be- ginning of modern civilization-they and their like of like use. This use was to protect from the cold and from drafts of air. Castle chambers, in the tenth century, were huge and walled I,,ith stone, without glass or other means of closing the window-openings. Later, they were lined with plaster or with wainscoting of wood, and wooden shut- ters werehung; and even glass set in sashes was very generally supplied by the beginning of the twelfth century. However they might be finished and fitted qp, there were currents of air, and the wind blew in through crevices and down the wide-throated chimneys; and the heavy tapestries and stuffs of woolen and linen, made in the middle ages, were found useful to shut out the weather. There still remain a few speci- mens of an utensil, once very common, often illustrated and mentioned in man- uscripts-a sort of spur or pr'ojecting arm of wood close at the side of a win- dow or door. This was to carry a curtain. Sometimes these spurs were hinged; the curtain w1as to be shut against the wall so as to cover the win- dow, or opened, at pleasure. Sometimes it was stationary; it was desired only to keep the wind from a certain bed or fixed chair. The bedsteads in wealthy houses, huge, richly ornamented, im- movable structures, were hung around with curtains of heavy material. And smaller squares and parallelograms of tapestry were at once the " afghans," the carpets, and the screens of the time; for a square bit of stuff could be hung over the high back-rail settle, or spread over the knees, or laid under the feet at pleasure. VOL. II.] [No. 8.
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