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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/49

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27
THE MISTRESS

or romance, and there is no greater safeguard against those low-class and pernicious publications, which, alas! abound, than an early acquaintance with the real masterpieces of literature.

Retiring for the Night.—It is well to remember that early rising is almost impossible if retiring to rest at a late hour is the practice of the household. The younger members of a family should go early and at regular hours to their beds, and the domestics as soon as possible after a reasonably appointed hour. Either the master or the mistress of a house should, after all have gone to their separate rooms, see that all is right with respect to lights and fires below; and no servants should on any account be allowed to remain up after the heads of the house have retired.

Having thus dealt with daily routine from rising at morning to retiring at night, there remain only now to be considered a few matters, respecting which the mistress of the house may be glad to receive information.

When taking a House in a new locality, it will be etiquette for the mistress to wait until the older inhabitants of the neighbourhood call upon her, thus evincing a desire, on their part, to become acquainted with the new-comer. It may be, that the mistress will desire an intimate acquaintance with but few of her neighbours; but it is to be specially borne in mind that all visits, whether of ceremony, friendship, or condolence, should be punctiliously returned, though some time may be allowed to elapse in the case of undesirable acquaintance.

Letters of Introduction.—You may perhaps have been favoured with letters of introduction from some of your friends, to persons living in the neighbourhood to which you have just come. In this case, enclose the letter of introduction in an envelope, with your card. Then, if the person to whom it is addressed call in the course of a few days, the visit should be returned by you within the week, if possible. It is now more usual to write by the post and introduce a friend, instead of leaving everything to be said by the letter that is given.

In the event of your being invited to dinner under the above circumstances, nothing but necessity should prevent you from accepting the invitation. If, however, there is some distinct reason why you cannot accept, let it be stated frankly and plainly. An opportunity should, also, be taken to call in the course of a day or two, in order to express your regret that untoward circumstances have made it impossible for you to be present.

In Giving a Letter of Introduction, it should always be handed to your friend unsealed. Courtesy dictates this, as the person whom you are introducing would, perhaps, wish to know in what manner he or she was spoken of. Should you receive a letter from a friend, introducing to you any person known to and esteemed by the writer, the letter should be immediately acknowledged, and your willingness expressed to do all in your power to carry out his or her wishes.