Sunday, June 22, 2008

In the Time of the Candle


In domestic lighting for nearly the first half of the present century candles hold undisputed sway. Old stagers may yet recall the dimly lighted parlor, the fire burning softly in the twilight, where the elders kept blind man's holiday. The bell is rung, and Mary brings in candles, a pair of molds in tall brass candlesticks, brightly polished, with snuffers on a tray — a sharp beaked snuffers of steel, with jaws that opened and shut with a snap, and something sinister in their appearance.

There were plated candlesticks and snuffers, too, for occasions of state, with silver branches that suggested the spoils of Jerusalem, but there was also a lamp, a stately edifice of bronze that towered over the family circle at times and shed a generous and genial light when so inclined. But what a demon it was to smoke and to smell! And it would burn, when it condescended to burn at all, nothing but the very finest sperm oil at a fabulous price per gallon. — All the Year Round.

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