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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/29

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THE MISTRESS

CHAPTER I

The Housewife, Home Virtues, Hospitality, Good Temper, Dress and Fashion, Engaging Domestics, Wages of Servants, Visiting, Visiting Cards, Parties, Etc., Etc.

"Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her."—Proverbs xxxi. 25–28.

The Functions of the Mistress of a House resemble those of the general of an army or the manager of a great business concern. Her spirit will be seen in the whole establishment, and if she performs her duties well and intelligently, her domestics will usually follow in her path. Among the gifts that nature has bestowed on woman, few rank higher than the capacity for domestic management, for the exercise of this faculty constantly affects the happiness, comfort and prosperity of the whole family. In this opinion we are borne out by the author of The Vicar of Wakefield, who says:—"The modest virgin, the prudent wife, and the careful matron are much more serviceable in life than petticoated philosophers, blustering heroines, or virago queans. She who makes her husband and her children happy is a much greater character than ladies described in romances, whose whole occupation is to murder mankind with shafts from the quiver of their eyes."

The Housewife.—Although this word may be used to describe any mistress of a household, it seems more fittingly applied to those who personally conduct their domestic affairs than to others who govern with the assistance of a large staff of well-trained servants. Times have changed since 1766, when Goldsmith wrote extolling home virtues; and in few things is the change more marked than in woman's sphere; but a woman should not be less careful in her management or blameless in her life because the spirit of the age gives her greater scope for her activities. Busy housewives should be encouraged to find time in the midst of domestic cares for the recreation and social intercourse which are necessary to the well-being of

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