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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/33

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11
THE MISTRESS

day guiding their daughters in society, and in this cherished hope have a motive for not abstaining too much from social intercourse. One is apt to become narrow-minded by living too much in the home circle; it is not well to get out of the way of meeting fresh people. It is important also that children should have the advantage of mixing with other young people, though of course parents should exercise every precaution against the evils of bad company.

Friendships should not be hastily formed, or the heart given to every newcomer. There are women who smile on every chance acquaintance, and who have not the courage to reprove vice or defend virtue. Addison, the greatest essayist, observes that—"A friendship which makes the least noise is very often the most useful; for which reason, I should prefer a prudent friend to a zealous one."

The advice Shakespeare makes Polonius give to his son Laertes is thoroughly sound:—

Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade.

Hospitality should be practised; but care must be taken that the love of company, for its own sake, does not become a prevailing passion; such a habit is no longer hospitality, but dissipation. Reality and sincerity in this, as in all duties of life, should be studied; for, as Washington Irving says—"There is an emanation from the heart in genuine hospitality which cannot be described, but is immediately felt, and puts the stranger at once at his ease." A lady, when she first undertakes the responsibility of a household, should not attempt to retain all the mere acquaintances of her youth. Her true and tried friends are treasures never to be lightly lost, but they, and the friends she will make by entering her husband's circle, and very likely by moving to a new locality, should provide her with ample society.

In Conversation one should never dwell unduly on the petty annoyances and trivial disappointments of the day. Many people get into the bad habit of talking incessantly of the worries of their servants and children, not realizing that to many of their hearers these are uninteresting if not wearisome subjects. From one's own point of view, also, it is well not to start upon a topic without having sufficient knowledge to discuss it with intelligence. Important events, whether of joy or sorrow, should be told to friends whose sympathy or congratulation may be welcome. A wife should never allow a word about any faults of her husband to pass her lips; and in conversation, she should keep the counsel of Cowper continually in her memory,—that it should flow naturally and not

"As if raised by mere mechanic powers."