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PRINCIPLES OF ECONOMY,
AND ADAPTED TO THE
USE OF PRIVATE FAMILIES.
TOttfj numerous Ellusttattorta.
REVISED EDITION, WITH ADDITIONS.
As the following directions were intended for the conduct of the families of the Authoress's own daughters, and for the arrangement of their table, so as to unite a good figure with proper economy, she has avoided all excessive luxury, such as essence of ham, and that wasteful expenditure of large quantities of meat for gravy, which so greatly contributes to keep up the price, and is no less injurious to those who eat than to those whose penury obliges them to abstain. Many receipts are given for things, which being in daily use, the mode of preparing them may be supposed too well known to require a place in a Cookery-hook; yet how rarely do we meet with fine melted butter, good toast and water, or wellmade coffee! She makes no apology for minuteness in some articles, or for leaving others unnoticed, because she does not write for professed cooks. This little work would have been a treasure to herself when she first set out in life, and she therefore hopes it may prove useful to others. In that expectation it is given to the Public; and as she will receive from it no emolument, so she trusts it will escape without censure.
FOR THE USE OF
THE MISTRESS OF A FAMILY.
In every rank, those deserve the greatest praise, who best acquit themselves of the duties which their station requires. Indeed, this line of conduct is not a matter of choice but of necessity, if we would maintain the dignity of our character as rational beings.
In the variety of female acquirements, though domestic occupations stand not so high in esteem as they formerly did, yet, when neglected, they produce much human misery. There was a time when ladies knew nothing beyond their own family concerns; but, in the present day, there are many who know nothing about them. Each of these extremes should be avoided: but is there no way to unite in the female character cultivation of talents and habits of usefulness? Happily there are still great numbers in every situation whose example proves that this is possible. Instances may be found of ladies in the higher walks of life, who condescend to examine the accounts of their house-steward; and, by overlooking and wisely directing the expenditure of that part of their husband's income, which falls under their own immediate inspection, avoid the inconveniences of embarrassed circumstances. How much more necessary, then, is domestic knowledge in those whose limited fortunes press on their attention considerations of the strictest economy! There ought to be a material difference in the degree of care which a person of a large and independent estate bestows on money concerns, and that of a person in confined circumstances: yet both may very commendably employ some portion of their time and thoughts on this subject. The custom of the times, tends in some measure to abolish the distinctions of rank; and the education given to young people is nearly the same in all: but though the leisure of the higher may be well devoted to elegant accomplishments, the pursuits of those in a middle line, if less ornamental, would better secure their own happiness and that of others connected with them. We sometimes bring up children in a manner calculated rather to fit them for the station we wish, than that which it is likely they will actually possess: and it is in all cases worth the while of parents to consider whether the expectation or hope of raising their offspring above their own situation bo well founded.
4 MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS.
The cultivation of the understanding and disposition, however, is not here alluded to; for a judicious improvement of both, united to firm and early-taught religious principles, would enable the happy possessor of these advantages to act well on all occasions: nor would young ladies find domestic knowledge a burden, or inconsistent with higher attainments, if the rudiments of it were inculcated at a tender age, when activity is so pleasing. If employment be tirefoine to a healthy child, the fault must be traced to habits which, from many causes, are not at present favourable to the future con duct of women. It frequently happens, that before impressions of duty are made on the mind, ornamental education commences; and it ever after takes the lead; thus, what should be only the embellishment, becomes the main business of life. There is no opportunity of attaining a knowledge of family management at school; and during vacation, all subjects that might interfere with amusement are avoided.
When a girl, whose family moves in the higher ranks of life, returns to reside at her father's house after completing her education, her introduction to the gay world, and a continued course of pleasures, persuade her at once that she was born to be the ornament of fashionable circles, rather than to stoop (as she would conceive it) to undertake the arrangement of a family, though by that means she might in various ways augment the satisfaction and comfort of her parents. On the other hand, persons of an inferior sphere, and especially in the lower order of middling life, are almost always anxious to give their children such advantages of education as themselves did not possess. Whether their indulgence be productive of the happiness so kindly aimed at, must be judged by the effects, which are not very favourable, if what has been taught has not produced humility in herself, and increased gratitude and respect to the authors of her being. Were a young woman brought to relish home society, and the calm delights of agreeable occupation, before she entered into the delusive scenes of pleasure presented by the theatre and other dissipations, it is probable she would soon make a comparison much in favour of the former, especially if restraint did not give to the latter additional relish.
If we carry on our observations to married life, we shall find a love of employment to be the source of unnumbered pleasures.. To attend to the nursing, and at least early instruction of children, and rear a healthy progeny in the ways of piety and usefulness; to preside over the family and regulate the income allotted to its maintenance; to make home the sweet refuge of a husband fatigued by intercourse with a jarring world ; to be his enlightened companion and the chosen friend of his heart; these, these are woman's duties! and delightful ones they are, if haply she be married to a man whose soul can duly estimate her worth, and who will bring his share to the common stock of felicity. Of such a woman, one may truly say, "Happy the man who can call her his wife. Blessed are the children who call her mother."
When we thus observe her, exercising her activity and best abilities in appropriate cares and increasing excellence, are we not ready to say, she is the agent for good of that benevolent Being MISCELtANEOtTS OBSERVATIONS. 5
who placed her on earth to fulfil such sacred obligations, not to waste the talents committed to her charge.
When it is thus evident that the highest intellectual attainments may find exercise in the multifarious occupations of the daughter, the wife, the mother, and the mistress of the house, can any one urge that the female mind is contracted by domestic employ? It is, however, a great comfort that the duties of life are within the reach of humbler abilities, and that she whose chief aim is to fulfil them, will rarely ever fail to acquit herself well. United with, and perhaps crowning all the virtuesof the female character, is that well-directed ductility of mind, which occasionally beuds its attention to the smaller objects of life, knowing them to bo often scarcely less essential than the greater.
Hence the direction of a table is no inconsiderable branch of a lady's concern, as it involves judgment in expenditure, respectability of appearance, and the comfort of her husband and those who partake their hospitality.
The mode of covering the table differs in taste. It is not the multiplicity of things, but the choice, the dressing, and the neat pleasing look of the whole, which gives respectability to her who presides. Too much, or too little dinners are extremes not uncommon: tho latter is in appearance and reality the effort of poverty or penuriousness to be genteel; and the former, if constantly given, may endanger the circumstances of those who are not affluent.
Generally speaking, dinners are far less sumptuous than formerly, when half a dozen dishes were supplied for what one now costs; consequently thoso whose fortunes are not great, and who wish to make a genteel appearance, without extravagance, regulate their table accordingly.
Perhaps there are few incidents in which tho respectability of a man is more immediately felt, than the style of dinner to which he accidentally may bring home a visitor. Every one is to live as he can afford, and the meal of the tradesman ought not to emulate tho entertainments of the higher classes; but, if two or three dishes are well served, with the usual sauces, the table-linen clean, the small sideboard neatly laid, and all that is necessary be at hand, the expectation of the husband and friend will be gratified, because no irregularity of domestic arrangement will disturb the social intercourse. The same observation holds good on a larger scale. In all situations of life, the entertainment should be no less suited to the station, than to the fortune of the entertainer and to the number and rank of those invited.
The manner of carving is now not only a very sub branch of information, to enable a lady to do the honours of her table, but makes a considerable difference in the consumption of a family; and though Ill large parties she is so much assisted as to render this knowledge apparently of less consequence, yet she must at times feel the deficiency; and should not fail to acquaint herself with an attainment, tho advantage of which is evident every day.
Indeed, as fashions are so fleeting, it is more than probable, that before the end of this century, great attention to guests may be again the mode, as it was in the commencement of the last. Bome