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6 MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS.
people haggle meat so much, as not to be able (o help half-a-dozen persons decently from a large tongue, or a sirloin of beef; and the dish goes away with the appearance of having been gnawed by dogs. If the daughters of the family were to take the head of the table under the direction of their mother, they would fulfil its duties with grace, in the same easy manner as an early practice in other domestic affairs gradually fits them for their own future houses. Habit alone can make good carvers; but some principal directions are hereafter given, with a reference to the annexed plates.
The mistress of a family should always remember that the welfare and good management of the house depend on the eye of the superior; and consequently that nothing is too trifling for her notice, whereby waste may be avoided; and this attention is of more importance now that the price of every necessary of life is so greatly increased.
If a lady has never been accustomed, while single, to think of family management, let her not upon that account fear that she cannct attain it: she may consult others who are more experienced, and acquaint herself with the necessary quantities of the several articles of family expenditure, in proportion to the number it consists of, the proper prices to pay, &c., &c.
A minute account of the annual income, and the times of payment should be taken in writing; likewise an estimate of the supposed amount of each article of expense; and those who are early accustomed to calculations on domestic articles, will acquire so accurate a knowledge of what their establishment requires, as will give them the happy medinm between prodigality and parsimony, without acquiring the character of meanness.
Perhaps few branches of female education are so useful, as great readiness at figures. Accounts should be regularly kept, and not the smallest article omitted to be entered; and if balanced every week and month, &c., the income and outgoings will be ascertained with facility, and their proportions to each other be duly observed. Some people fix on stated sums to be appropriated to each different article, and keep the money in separate purses; as house, clothf s, pocket, education of children, &c. Whichever way accounts bo entered, a certain mode should be adopted, and strictly adhered to. Many women are unfortunately ignorant of the state of their husband's income; and others are only made acquainted with it, when some speculative project, or profitable transaction, leads them to make a false estimate of what can be afforded; and it too often happens that both parties, far from consulting each other, squander money in ways that they would even wish to forget: whereas marriage should be a state of mutual and perfect confidence, and similarity of pursuits, which would secure that happiness it was intended to bestow.
There are so many valuable women who excel as wives, that it is a fair inference there would be few extravagant ones, were they consulted by their husbands on subjects that concern the mutual interest of both parties. Within the knowledge of the writer of these pages, many families have been reduced to poverty by the Want of openness in the man on the subject of his affairs; and MISCELLANEOUS OBSERVATIONS. 7
though on these occasions the women were blamed, it has afterwards appeared, that they never were allowed to inquire, or suffered to reason upon what sometimes seemed to them imprudent.
Many families have owed their prosperity full as much to tho propriety of female management, as to the knowledge and activity of the father.
The lady of a general officer observed to her man-cook, that her last weekly bill was higher than usual. Some excuse was offered; —to which she replied:—" Such is the sum I have allotted to housekeeping; should it be exceeded one week, the next must pay for it. The General will have no publio day this week." The fault was never repeated.
March s " Family Book-keeper " is a very useful work, and saves much trouble; the various articles of expense being printed, with a column for every day in the year, so that at one view the amount of expenditure on each, and the total sum may be known.
Ready-money should be paid for all such things as come not into weekly bills, and even for them a check is necessary. The best places for purchasing should be attended to. In some articles a discount of five per cent, is allowed for ready-money in London and other large cities, and those who thus pay are usually best served. Under the idea of buying cheap, many go to new shops; but it is safest to deal with people of established credit, who do not dispose of goods by underselling.
To make tradesmen wait for their money injures them greatly, besides that a higher price must be paid, and in long bills, articles never bought are often charged. Perhaps the irregularity and failure of payment may have much evil influence on the price of various articles, and may contribute to the destruction of many families from the highest to the lowest.
Thus regularly conducted, the exact state of money affairs will be known with ease; for it is delay of payment that occasions confusion. A good common-place book should be always at hand, in which to enter such hints of useful knowledge, and other observations, as are (given by sensible experienced people. Want of attention to what is advised, or supposing things too minute to be worth hearing, are the causes why so much ignorance prevails on necessary subjects among those who are not backward in frivolous ones.
It is very necessary for a woman to be informed of the prices and goodness of all articles in common use, and of the best times, as well as places, for purchasing them. She should also be acquainted with the comparative prices of provisions, in order that she may be able to substitute those that are most reasonable, when they will answer as well for others of the same kind, but which are more costly. A false notion of economy leads many to purchase as bargains what is not wanted, and sometimes never is used. Were this error avoided, more money would remain for other purposes. It is not unusual among lower dealers to put off a larger quantity of goods, by assurance that they are advancing in price; and many who supply fancy articles are so successful in persuasion, that purchasers not unfrequently go far beyond their original intention,
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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 luxuiy, 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-book; 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.