Posted by: Sherry Goodwin | October 2, 2014


Although the Swiss peasants are what we should consider very poor, working
very hard and earning very little ; doing without many little comforts which
are almost necessaries in an English cottage, and dressing at less cost than our
own cottagers ; one hardly ever hears of any real poverty or suffering from want
or cold, yet their winters are far longer and more severe than ours. In the valley
from which I write this (September), the snow lies from November till April.
One of their contrivances for winter warmth is so very simple that it might
surely add to the comfort of many an English cottage, where there are many little
ones to be kept warm at night and not many warm blankets or counterpanes
to cover them. It is a hay quilt ; and as I have several times slept cosily under one
of them, on cold nights among the mountains, I can tell from experience how
comfortable they are.

They are nothing but a large square cotton bag, with a few good handfuls of
hay, shaken lightly into it ; but they are as warm as two or three thick blankets.
They need cost almost nothing. The breadths of a very old cotton dress run together,
or old curtains, or any other used-out or washed-out material will do for
the large double squares, which should be quite as wide as the bed which it is intended
to cover. Any farmer would give a few handfuls of hay to shake into it ;
and there is a coverlet which will keep out any amount of cold !
A Hay Quilt Working Party would in one afternoon provide almost as
much comfort as an expensive Blanket Fund. Or poor mothers might themselves,
with little trouble and less expense, make their little children or aged parents
nice and warm at night, if they would only try this simple plan of the poor
Swiss mountaineers.

Frances Ridley Havergal published posthumously in Swiss Letters and Alpine Poems

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