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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/44

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22
HOUSEHOLD MANAGEMENT

In accepting an invitation the form of words used is—

........................
have much pleasure in accepting

........................

kind invitation for

........................

while in declining one it is usual to say—

........................
regret they are unavoidably prevented [or that a
previous engagement prevents them] from

accepting
........................
kind invitation for
........................

Before the Dinner.—A dinner-party, in an establishment where such an event is of rare occurrence, is apt to cause great anxiety to the inexperienced hostess, particularly when she cannot place full reliance in the training and capabilities of her servants. But, whatever her fears of disaster may be, she must meet her guests with a bright and cheery welcome.

In giving any entertainment of this kind, the hostess should endeavour to make the guests enjoy the time spent under her roof, and the guests themselves should remember that they have come with the object of mutual entertainment. An opportunity is thus given to all for innocent pleasure and intellectual intercourse, in the course of which pleasant and valuable friendships may be formed and information acquired that may prove useful through life. Many celebrated men and women have been great talkers; and one may recall the genial Sir Walter Scott, who would speak freely to any one, and was wont to say that he never did so without learning something.

With respect to the number of guests, it has often been said, that a private dinner-party should consist of not less than the number of the Graces, or more than that of the Muses. A party of ten or twelve is,