"In order to get through your work in proper time, you should make it your chief study to rise early in the morning; for an hour before the family rises is worth more to you than two after they are up."
~Robert Roberts, 1827
While in Natchez, I was touring The Towers, home of Ginger Hyland and her fiance James Wesley Forde, and sitting on a side table, I discovered an old book they owned by Robert Roberts called The House Servant's Directory: an African American Butler's 1827 Guide.
What makes this book remarkable is that it is one of the first to be written by an African American and issued by a commercial press. It was also written while Roberts was employed as a Butler.
The book was first published in Boston in 1827 and had two additional printings, one in 1828 and another in 1843. It is a fascinating work, more a household manual than a cookbook, although it contains recipes.
Passionate in everything he did, Robert Roberts inspired others to do their very best. Believing that every man and woman should do their best in whatever job they held, Robert Roberts inspired domestics, or butlers and maids, to take pride in their work.
Robert Roberts' Beautiful-Flavored Punch
Take one dessert-spoonful of acid salt lemon, half a pound of good white sugar, 2 quarts of real boiling water, one pint of Jamaica rum, and half a pint of brandy, add some lemon peel or some essence of lemon if agreeable, four drops of the essence is enough; then pour it from one pitcher to another twice or thrice to mix it well. This will be a most delicious and fine flavoured punch.
Or in other words....
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups boiling water
1 cup rum
1/2 cup brandy
Peel of 1 lemon or 2 drops lemon extract
Pinch of coarse salt
Combine all of the ingredients in a pitcher. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Let cool. Serve chilled.
Makes 4 servings of 5 ounces each.