Perfuming the Linen Chest

Orris-root, which is deliciously pure and fresh when dried, with a fragrance closely resembling the violet, has always been and always will be much used by women of good taste to give sweetness to their linen and writing paper. Ordinarily it has been put into small silken bags to be scattered about lavishly. Now more frequently, large flat sachets which cover the entire shelves and drawers are used, and wardrobes are lined from top to bottom with similar sachets not invariably impregnated with orris, but instead with the particular scent which the fair owner especially affects.
Current literature, Volume 16

Perfuming the Linen. The fancy for perfuming the family linen continues to grow. It was the custom in our grandmothers' day to lay sprays of sweet basil, lavender, a few rose leaves or a bunch of sweet herbs in the linen chest to give it a fragrant odor. That was in the day when the snowy piles were all hemmed by hand and initialed during long evenings under the lamplight, and each piece carefully numbered so that all could be accounted for.
But to-day, when the chest has grown into big linen closets with cavernous shelves, it requires an expert to do the perfuming, and the cost thereof would have made those same grandmothers' hair rise straight up from their heads. But this is an extravagant generation, so why quibble over one small item?
The perfumes the expert uses are the delightful, oldfashioned ones, such as sweet clover, lemon verbena, lavender, peach leaf, and clove pink. They are made into wonderful sachets of lingerie-covered silk, which are put into the centerpiece rolls, doily cases, napkin bags, and in the satin covered elastic bands which bind them. The blotters behind each shelf are also perfumed.
Mrs. Norton's cook-book: selecting, cooking, and serving for the home table
By Jeanette Young Norton



SOME of us have old chests among our heirlooms—old chests visited so seldom that whenever we do open them a faint sweet fragrance wafts up out of their depths from the lavender-bags, orris-root, clove-apples and tiny sheaves of manilla clover that have lain for many a year among the textile treasures garnered there.

The textile treasures, alas, have changed their fashion, or the fashion has changed them, until they are no longer of any service except to feed our curiosity about the dead and gone past; what was purple has browned to puce, and now the only vital enduring thing about the chest, the only thing still instinct with a living human interest, is the odor that steals up into the room. It is like the scent of the lavenderbed we sprinkled yesterday, or the manilla clover we crushed in our last night's canter, only it is these familiar odors poetized by age and time and tender associations.
Table talk, Volume 7

A hundred happy memories filled the little low room as Alma Pflugel showed me her treasures. The cat purred in great content, and the stove cast a rosy glow over the scene as the simple woman told the story of each precious relic, from the battered candle-dipper on the shelf, to the great mahogany folding table, and sewing stand, and carved bed. Then there was the old horn lantern that Jacob Pflugel had used a century before, and in one corner of the sitting-room stood Grossmutter Pflugel's spinning-wheel. Behind cupboard doors were ranged the carefully preserved blue-and-white china dishes, and on the shelf below stood the clumsy earthen set that Grosspapa Pflugel himself had modeled for his young bride in those days of long ago. In the linen chest there still lay, in neat, fragrant folds, piles of the linen that had been spun on that time-yellowed spinning-wheel. And because of the tragedy in the honest face bent over these dear treasures, and because she tried so bravely to hide her tears, I knew in my heart that this could never be a newspaper story.
Dawn O'Hara: the girl who laughed
By Edna Ferber

But the parlor! All Arabia breathed from that parlor, and it seemed to me that every country had contributed to its contents. There were exquisitely carved things in sandal-wood and ivory; there were inlaid fire-screens, tables, and cabinets, silken cushions embroidered with gold and silver threads,—all sorts of treasures. The captain's wife opened her heart to me when she saw how great my pleasure was, and she showed me her linen chest. When she opened the drawers, piles of finest and whitest linen were revealed, and the hall was filled with the odor of sweet lavender. How proud she was of her store! How proud I was to be privileged to see it! The captain's wife was very picturesque as she stood there. She was faded, tall, and thin, and her manners were refined. She wore a spotless print gown, and spoke in quiet, even tones. She had been in almost every port in the world, but I had known her years before she did me the honor to speak of her travels. The captain himself was ruddy and cheerful and rather more talkative than his wife: we had had many a ride up the road in his blue wagon before we saw that parlor.
The Unitarian register, Volume 83
By American Unitarian Association