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Lessons from 1896

Friday, July 24, 2009
It is a nice acquisition, that of knowing what to say, and when to say it, to say just enough and not too much, to be able to keep a conversation running along easily and interestingly without being loquacious, to make visitors feel at ease without inviting undue familiarity, to be reserved but not taciturn when occasion calls for reserve. To be affable and kind and elegant and modest is natural to some, while others not so fortunate may acquire by study and observation all these graces and accomplishments.

It is an old and well proved rule that in company one should talk of things and places, but never of persons. One may talk of personages, they are public property, but not of friends or acquaintances. To mention their habits, their economies, the deportment, or any of their private affairs, is to gossip. It is a wise and kind hostess who never discusses a departed guest with those who remain. Guests learn to feel very safe and comfortable in a house where this rule in never violated, for they know when their turn comes to leave they are not going to be talked over. They know their mistakes are going to be passed without comment, and their clothes, no matter what sort or quality, are not going to be the subject of remark or ridicule.

When you are in company, talk often, but never for long; in that case, if you do not please, at least you are sure not to tire your hearers.

All know what cleanliness means to the family, and how much discomfort the lack of it brings.

No one's ease should be disturbed by the housemaid's brush and dust cloth; nor should one be obliged to find another retreat while she is wielding them.

Nothing seems more forlorn to a man returning from business, than to find a dark house or its mistress away.

Putting a house in perfect order before retiring for the night is a most commendable plan.

Good cooking is an accomplishment of which anyone may be justly proud. Tidiness and comfort go hand in hand with good cooking, and the housekeeper who knows how essential to the welfare of her family are these three things, spares no pains or trouble to provide them.

Wives might come o have more regard for the small income, and would be more patient and sweet and encouraging, and would make the home coming each night, an event to be looked forward to as an offset to the turmoil of the long day.

Freedom from worry with time for reading and companionship, and that tranquility which enlarges the heart and enlivens the spirit, is what makes life dignified and simple and happy.

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