Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/15

This page has been validated.


For nearly half a century Mrs. Beeton has been the guide, philosopher and friend of countless happy homes. In every English-speaking country her "Household Management" has appeared amongst the wedding presents of a bride as surely as the proverbial salt cellars, and thousands of grateful letters testify that it has often proved the most useful gift of all. Many competitors have paid Mrs. Beeton the compliment of imitation and adaptation up to, and sometimes beyond, the utmost limits the law allows, but her work stands to-day, as of old, without a rival. Press and public have alike proclaimed its merits. Every writer dealing with the reality or romance of domestic life has recorded its constant rescue of young housekeepers from perplexity and woe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in his great study of married life, entitled "A Duet, with an occasional Chorus," makes his heroine say—"Mrs. Beeton must have been the finest housekeeper in the world. Therefore, Mr. Beeton must have been the happiest and most comfortable man"; and his hero concludes, that "this book has more wisdom to the square inch than any work of man"—a wonderful testimonial when one remembers that the last edition thus praised contains more than 80,000 square inches of closely packed information.

The book of Household Management has not, however, maintained its great reputation solely by the merits of its first issue. It is true that Mrs. Beeton brought to its origin such ability, method, and conscientious care, that with the exception of corrections demanded by changing prices, processes and materials, her work stands practically unaltered to the present day. But if nothing has been taken away, very much has been added. Eight years after the first appearance of the book, an enlarged and revised edition was found necessary. Since then the changing years have brought extra information, new features, and increased size, till we find the new edition we are now introducing