Practical Suggestions for Mother and Housewife
By MARION MILLS MILLER, Litt D.
Edited by THEODORE WATERS
THE SINGLE WOMAN
Her Freedom. Culture a desideratum in her choice of work. Daughters as assistants of their fathers. In law. In medicine. As scientific farmers. Preparation for speaking or writing. Steps in the career of a journalist. The editor. The Advertising writer. The illustrator. Designing book covers. Patterns.
THE SINGLE WOMAN
Teaching. Teaching Women in Society. Parliamentary law. Games. Book-reviewing. Manuscript-reading for publishers. Library work. Teaching music and painting. Home study of professional housework. The unmarried daughter at home. The woman in business. Her relation to her employer. Securing an increase of salary. The woman of independent means. Her civic and social duties.
Nature's intention in marriage. The woman's crime in marrying for support. Her blunder in marrying an inefficient man for love. The proper union. Mutual aid of husband and wife. Manipulating a husband. By deceit. By tact. Confidence between man and wife.
Element in choice of a home. The city apartment. Furniture for a temporary home. Couches. Rugs. Book-cases. The suburban and country house. Economic considerations. Buying an old house. Building a new one. Supervising the building. The woman's wishes.
Essential parts of a house. Double use of rooms. Utility of piazzas. Landscape gardening. Water supply. Water power. Illumination. Dangers from gas. How to read a gas-meter. How to test kerosene. Care of lamps. Use of candles. Making the best of the old house.
FURNITURE AND DECORATION
The qualities to be sought in furniture. Home-made furniture. Semi-made furniture. Good furniture as an investment. Furnishing and decorating the hall. The staircase. The parlor. Rugs and carpets. Oriental rugs. Floors. Treatment of hardwood. Of other wood. How to stain a floor covering.
FURNITURE AND DECORATION
The carpet square. Furniture for the parlor. Parlor decoration. The piano. The library. Arrangement of books. The "Den." The living-room. The dining-room. Bedrooms. How to make a bed. The guest chamber. Window shades and blinds.
Nursing the child. The mother's diet. Weaning. The nursing bottle. Milk for the baby. The baby's table manners. His bath. Cleansing his eyes and nose. Relief of colic. Care of the diaper.
The school child. Breakfast, Luncheon, Supper. Aiding the teacher at home. Manual training. Utilizing the collecting mania. Physical exercise. Intellectual exercise. Forming the bath habit. Teething. Forming the toothbrush habit. Shoes for children. Dress. Hats.
CARE OF THE PERSON
The mother's duty toward herself—Her dress. Etiquette and good manners. The Golden Rule. Pride in personal appearance. The science of beauty culture. Manicuring as a home employment. Recipes for toilet preparations. Nail-biting. Fragile nails. White spots. Chapped hands. Care of the skin. Facial massage. Recipes for skin lotions. Treatment of facial blemishes and disorders. Care of the hair. Diseases of the scalp and hair. Gray hair. Care of eyebrows and eyelashes.
GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF COOKING
The prevalence of good receipts for all save meat dishes. Increased cost of meat makes these desirable. No need to save expense by giving up meat. The "Government Cook Book." Value of the cuts of meat.
GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF COOKING
Texture and flavor of meat. General methods of cooking meat. Economies in use of meat.
RECIPES FOR MEAT DISHES
Trying out fat. Extending the flavor of meat. Meat stew. Meat dumplings. Meat pies and similar dishes. Meat with starchy materials. Turkish pilaf. Stew from cold roast. Meat with beans. Haricot of mutton. Meat salads. Meat with eggs. Roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. Corned beef hash with poached eggs. Stuffing. Mock duck. Veal or beef birds. Utilizing the cheaper cuts of meat.
RECIPES FOR MEAT DISHES
Prolonged cooking at low heat. Stewed shin of beef. Boiled beef with horseradish sauce. Stuffed heart. Braised beef, pot roast, and beef a la mode. Hungarian goulash. Casserole cookery. Meat cooked with vinegar. Sour beef. Sour beefsteak. Pounded meat. Farmer stew. Spanish beefsteak. Chopped meat. Savory rolls. Developing flavor of meat. Retaining natural flavors. Round steak on biscuits. Flavor of browned meat or fat. Salt pork with milk gravy. "Salt-fish dinner." Sauces. Mock venison.
Various recipes arranged alphabetically.
What a tribute to the worth of woman are the names by which she is enshrined in common speech! What tender associations halo the names of wife, mother, sister and daughter! It must never be forgotten that the dearest, most sacred of these names, are, in origin, connected with the dignity of service. In early speech the wife, or wife-man (woman) was the "weaver," whose care it was to clothe the family, as it was the husband's duty to "feed" it, or to provide the materials of sustenance. The mother or matron was named from the most tender and sacred of human functions, the nursing of the babe; the daughter from her original duty, in the pastoral age, of milking the cows. The lady was so-called from the social obligations entailed on the prosperous woman, of "loaf-giving," or dispensing charity to the less fortunate. As dame, madame, madonna, in the old days of aristocracy, she bore equal rank with the lord and master, and carried down to our better democratic age the co-partnership of civic and family rights and duties.
Modern science and invention, civic and economic progress, the growth of humanitarian ideas, and the approach to Christian unity, are all combining to give woman and woman's work a central place in the social order. The vast machinery of government, especially in the new activities of the Agricultural and Labor Departments applied to investigations and experiments into the questions of pure food, household economy and employments suited to woman, is now directed more than ever before to the uplifting of American homes and the assistance of the homemakers. These researches are at the call of every housewife. However, to save her the bewilderment of selection from so many useful suggestions, and the digesting of voluminous directions, the fundamental principles of food and household economy as published by the government departments, are here presented, with the permission of the respective authorities, together with many other suggestions of utilitarian character which may assist the mother and housewife to a greater fulfillment of her office in the uplift of the home.
THE SINGLE WOMAN
Her Freedom—Culture a Desideratum in Her Choice of Work—Daughters as Assistants of Their Fathers—In Law—In Medicine—As Scientific Farmers—Preparation for Speaking or Writing—Steps in the Career of a Journalist—The Editor—The Advertising Writer—The Illustrator—Designing Book Covers—Patterns.
She, keeping green Love's lilies for the one unseen, Counselling but her woman's heart, Chose in all ways the better part. BENJAMIN HATHAWAY—By the Fireside.
The question of celibacy is too large and complicated to be here discussed in its moral and sociological aspects. It is a condition that confronts us, must be accepted, and the best made of it. Whether by economic compulsion or personal preference, it is a fact that a large number of American men remain bachelors, and a corresponding number of American women content themselves with a life of "single blessedness." It is a tendency of modern life that marriage be deferred more and more to a later period of maturity. Accordingly the period of spinsterhood is an important one for consideration. It is a question of individual mental attitude whether the period be viewed by the single woman as a preparation for possible marriage, or as the determining of a permanent condition of life. In either case the problem before her is to choose, like Mr. Hathaway's heroine, "the better part."
The single woman has an advantage over her married sister in freedom of choice, of self-improvement, and service to others. Says George Eliot of the wife, "A woman's lot is made for her by the love she accepts." The "bachelor girl," on the other hand, has virtually all the liberty of the man whom her name indicates that she emulates.
To the unmarried woman, especially the one who may subsequently marry, education in the broad sense of self-culture and development is of primary importance. The question of being should take precedence over doing, although not to the exclusion of the latter, for character is best formed by action. But all her studies, occupations, even her pastimes, should be pursued with the main purpose of making herself the ideal woman, such an one as Wordsworth describes, one with:
"The reason firm, the temperate will, Endurance, foresight, strength and skill; A perfect Woman, nobly planned To warn, to comfort, and command; And yet a Spirit still, and bright With something of angelic light."
It is an obviously true, and therefore a trite observation, that no one, woman or man, should consider that education (using the term broadly) stopped with graduation from school or college. But the statement that a grown person who has not settled down to some particular life work, such as is often the case with a young unmarried woman, should continue at least one serious study, will not be so generally accepted or acceptable. Yet in no other way may that mental discipline be obtained which is necessary to the mature development of character. Neglect to cultivate the ability to go down to the root of a subject, to observe it in its relations, and to apply it practically, will inevitably lead to superficial consideration of every subject, and even ignorance of the fact that this is superficial consideration. As a practical result, the person will drift through life rudderless, the sport of circumstance. She will act by impulse and chance, and be continually at a loss how to correct her errors. The shallowness with which women as a class are charged is due to the fact that, their aim in life for a considerable period not having been fixed by marriage or choice of a profession, they do not substitute some definite interest for such remissness, and so form the habit of intellectual laziness.
The study which an unmarried and unemployed woman should pursue may be anything worthy of thought, but preferably a practical subject at which, if necessary, the woman is ready to earn her living. Many a family has been saved from financial ruin by a daughter studying the business or the profession of the father, and, upon his breakdown from ill-health, becoming his right-hand assistant, or, in the case of his death, even taking his place as the family bread-winner. In these days when farming is becoming more and more a question of the farmer's management, and less and less of his personal manual labor, a daughter in a farmer's family already supplied with one or more housekeepers may, as legitimately as a son, study the science of agriculture, or one of its many branches, such as poultry-raising or dairying, and with as certain a prospect of success. Ample literature of the most practical and authoritative nature on every phase of farming may be secured from the Department of Agriculture at Washington, and the various State universities offer special mid-winter courses in agriculture available for any one with a common-school education, as well as send lecturers to the farmer's institutes throughout the State.
To give examples of women who have made notable successes at farming and its allied industries would be invidious, since there are so many of them.
Studies that look to the possibility of the student becoming a teacher are preeminent in the development of mentality. The science of psychology is the foundation of the art of pedagogy, and every woman, particularly one who may some day be required to teach, should know the operations of the mind, how it receives, retains, and may best apply knowledge. An essential companion of this study is physiology, the science of the nature and functions of the bodily organs, together with its corollary, hygiene, the care of the health. From ancient times psychology and physiology have been considered as equally associated and of prime importance. "A sound mind in a sound body" is an old Latin proverb. The need of every one to "know himself," both in mind and body, was taught by the earliest "Wise Men" of Greece. The Roman emperor Tiberius said that any one who had reached the age of thirty in ignorance of his physical constitution was a fool, a thought that has been modernized, with an unnecessary extension of the age, into the proverb, "At forty a man is either a fool or a physician."
The study of psychology is a basis for every employment or activity which has to deal with enlightenment or persuasion of the public. The person who would like to become a speaker or writer needs to begin with it rather than with the study of elocution or rhetoric. The first thing essential for him to know is himself; the second, his hearers or readers—what is the order of progress in their enlightenment. Even logical development of a subject is subsidiary to the practical psychological order. Formal logic, the analysis of the process of reasoning, is a cultural study rather than a practical one, save in criticism both of one's own work and another's. More cultural, and at the same time more practical, is the study of exact reasoning in the form of some branch of mathematics. Abraham Lincoln, when he "rode the circuit" as a lawyer, carried with him a geometry, which he studied at every opportunity. To the mental training which it gave him was due his success not only as a lawyer, but also as a political orator. Every one of his speeches was as complete a demonstration of its theme as a proposition in Euclid is of its theorem. Lincoln once said that "demonstration" was the greatest word in the language.
Delineation of character is the chief element of fiction, and herein literary aspirants are particularly weak, especially the women, far more of whom than men try their hand at short stories and novels, and who are generally without that preliminary experience in journalism which most of the male writers have undergone. It is not enough for a novelist to "know life"; he must also know the literary aspect of life, must have the imaginative power to select and adapt actual experiences artistically. Young women who write are prone to record things "just as they happened." This is a mistake. Aristotle laid down the fundamental principle of creative work in his statement that the purpose of art is to fulfil the incomplete designs of nature—that is, aid nature by using her speech, yet telling her story the way she ought to have told it but did not. This is his great doctrine of "poetic justice."
The writing of children's stories is peculiarly the province of the woman author, and here, because of her knowledge of the mind of the child, she is apt to be most successful. The best of stories about children and for children have been written by school-teachers. Of these authors a notable instance was the late Myra Kelly, whose adaptations in story form of her experiences as a teacher to the foreign population of the "East Side" of New York will long remain as models of their kind.
Journalism is a sufficient field in itself for a woman writer in which to exercise her ability, as well as a preparation for creative literary work. The natural way to enter it is by becoming the local correspondent of one of the newspapers of the region. In this work good judgment in the choice of items of news, variety in the manner of stating them, and logical order in arranging and connecting them should be cultivated. The writing of good, plain English, rather than "smart" journalese should be the aim. Stale, vulgar and incorrect phrases, such as "Sundayed," and "in our midst," should be avoided. There are two tests in selecting a news item: (1) Will it interest readers? (2) Ought they to know it? When by these tests an item is proved to be real news that demands publication, it should be published regardless of a third consideration, which is too often made a primary one: Will it please the persons concerned? This consideration should have weight only in regard to the manner of its statement. When the news is disagreeable to the parties concerned, it should be told with all kindness and charity. Thus the facts of a crime should be stated, who was arrested for it, etc.; but there should be no positive statement of the guilt of the one arrested until this has been legally proved. Many a publisher has had to pay heavy damages because he has overlooked, or permitted to be published, an unwarranted statement or opinion of a reporter or correspondent. But even though there were no law against libel, the commandment against bearing false witness holds in ethics.
The woman at home may also become a contributor to the newspaper. Her first articles should be statements of fact on practical subjects, such as the results of her own or some neighbor's experiments in a household matter of general interest, or reminiscences of matters of local history that happen to be of current interest. Thus when a new church is erected, the history of the old one may be properly told. Here the amateur journalist may practise herself in interviewing people.
After such a preparation as this, one may confidently enter the active profession of journalism as a reporter, preferably upon the paper for which she has been writing. Since in entering any profession opportunity for improvement and advancement in it is the first consideration, the young reporter should cheerfully accept the low salary that is paid beginners. There is no discrimination on account of sex in the newspaper world. Copy is paid for according to its amount and quality, regardless of whether it was written by a woman or a man. Women labor here, as elsewhere, under physical disabilities in comparison with men, and yet in compensation they have the advantage over men in their special adaptation to certain features of newspaper work, such as the interviewing of women, writing household and fashion articles, etc. There are more chances for this kind of special work in large cities, and here the aspiring newspaper woman may go, when she has proved her ability.
Mrs. Ida Husted Harper, who stands in the front rank of newspaper women, has tersely stated the duties a woman reporter must undertake and the sacrifices she must make, as follows: "The woman who wishes to be a newspaper reporter should ask herself if she is able to toil from eight to fifteen hours of the day, seven days in the week; if she is willing to take whatever assignment may be given; to go wherever sent, to accomplish what she is delegated to do, at whatever risk, or rebuff, or inconvenience; to brave all kinds of weather; to give up the frivolities of dress that women love and confine herself to a plain serviceable suit; to renounce practically the pleasures of social life; to put her relations to others on a business basis; to subordinate personal desires and eliminate the 'ego'; to be careful always to disarm prejudice against and create an impression favorable to women in this occupation; to expect no favors on account of sex; to submit her work to the same standard by which a man's is judged."
The salaries earned by women as reporters are, with a few notable exceptions, not large. As low as $8 and $10 a week are paid to beginners; from $15 to $25 a week is considered a fair salary, and $30 a week an exceptionally good one for a woman who has not received recognition as a thoroughly experienced reporter.
It is from the ranks of newspaper women who have gone to the large cities and made a name for themselves as capable reporters that the editorial staffs of the magazines are recruited. As a rule they obtain their introductions by magazine contributions chiefly of special articles on subjects in which they have made themselves experts. The salaries of these positions range from $25 a week for assistant editors to $50 and upward for the heads of departments.
Book publishers employ women of this class to edit and compile works upon their specialties. Quite a number of women in New York earn several thousand dollars a year each at such work, while continuing their regular editorial labors.
Many newspaper women drift naturally into advertising writing, which is well-paid for when cleverly done. Since the goods chiefly advertised are largely for women, women have the preference as writers of advertisements. Then, too, manufacturers and advertising agents pay well for ideas useful in promoting the commodities of themselves or their clients. Here the woman at home may find out whether she has special ability as an advertising writer, by thinking out new and catchy ideas for the promotion of articles which she sees are widely advertised, and mailing these to the manufacturers. It is well if she have artistic ability, so that she may make designs of the ideas, though this is not essential.
It is the advertising columns of the newspapers and magazines, even more than the reading matter, which give a demand for work in illustration. To the woman who has talent rather than genius in drawing, illustration and commercial art afford a far safer field, in respect to remuneration, than the making of oil-paintings and water-colors. If ability in drawing is conjoined with ability in designing and writing advertisements, the earnings are more than doubled. Since payment for the individual drawing is more customary than employing an artist at a fixed salary, illustrating and the designing of advertisements can be done at home. There are many young girls just out of the art-school who earn from $25 to $50 a week by such "piece-work."
Akin to this work is the designing of book-covers, for which publishers pay from $15 to $25 each.
Of a more mechanical nature is making the drawings for commercial catalogues, and the prices paid are low, $9 a week being the rule for beginners. Designers of patterns, etc., for various manufacturers receive a similar amount at first. They may hope, after several years of experience, to rise to $25 a week, or possibly $30 or $35.
THE SINGLE WOMAN
Teaching—Teaching Women in Society—Parliamentary Law—Games—Book-reviewing—Manuscript-reading for Publishers—Library Work—Teaching Music and Painting—Home Study of Professional Housework—The Unmarried Daughter at Home—The Woman in Business—Her Relation to Her Employer—Securing an Increase of Salary—The Woman of Independent Means—Her Civic and Social Duties.
Teaching is a profession that is particularly the province of the unmarried woman. The best teachers are those who have chosen it as their life-work, and have therefore thoroughly prepared themselves for it. A girl who takes a school position merely for the money that there is in it, expecting to give it up in a year or so, when she hopes to marry, is inflicting a grievous wrong on the children under her charge. There are other remunerative employments where her lack of serious intention will not be productive of lasting injury. Lack of preparation for teaching generally goes with this lack of intention, doubling the injury. Against this the examination for the school certificate is not always a sufficient safeguard, since many girls are clever enough to "cram up" sufficiently to pass the examination who have not had the perseverance necessary to master the subjects they are to teach, not to speak of that interest in the broad subject of pedagogy, without which the application of its principles in teaching the various branches is certain to be neglected. Enthusiasm in her profession, a whole-hearted interest in each pupil as an individual personality should characterize every teacher, for next to the mother, she plays the most important part in the development of the coming generation.
There is a general complaint that the salaries of school-teachers are too low, measured by the rewards of persons of corresponding ability in other professions. When, however, the certainty of pay and the virtual assurance that the employment is for life if good service is rendered, are considered, together with the respect accorded the teacher by the community and the fact that her work necessarily tends to the cultivation of her mind, the lot of the school-teacher must be reckoned as one of the most favored. Americans are more prone than any other people to spend money on education, and this spirit is ever increasing, so that the school-teacher is more certain than the member of any other profession that she will be rewarded worthily in the future. The establishment of the Carnegie pension fund for retired college professors is an indication of this growing spirit, as well as the recent advance of the salaries of public school teachers in New York City and elsewhere, in recognition of the increase in the cost of living.
To the bright woman who is interested in the study of civics, political economy, and sociology, there is opportunity to earn a living at home by organizing classes in these subjects among the club-women of her town. Teachers of parliamentary law are in especial demand. The organization of a mock congress for parliamentary practise is the most entertaining as well as the most improving play in which women can join. There is also a demand among women who seek an intellectual element in their recreation for instruction in the games of bridge-whist, whist, and chess. Bridge-whist is the most popular, largely because of the desire to win money and valuable prizes at the game. Then, too, a greater amount of time is spent at it than is legitimate for recreation. For moral reasons, therefore, the teaching of it cannot be recommended. Straight whist is also played occasionally for money, but this practise, happily, is rapidly becoming obsolete. Chess, except among professionals, is played purely for sport, and is therefore the best of games to study. Unfortunately there is very little demand for instruction in it by women; nevertheless, it is the best of all games for cultivating the analytical power of the mind, a faculty in which women, as a rule, are weak.
This power may, with equal pleasure and greater profit, be gained by paying special attention, in the reading of books and magazines, to literary style and construction. The average reader assimilates only a small percentage of what he reads. The careful thought which the author puts into his manner of presentation, no less than into the matter, is appreciated by very few of his readers, and by these only to a limited extent. Especially is this true of fiction. If one wishes to become an author, he should first cultivate this power of criticism, always accompanying the study by exercises in reconstruction of faults in the author read. Thus, wherever a sentence appears awkward in expression, the reader should revise it; wherever there is a seeming error in the logical development of a subject, or the psychological development of a fictitious character, he should reconstruct it. Nothing is so helpful to a writer as self-criticism. Thus Mrs. Humphrey Ward has recently confessed that the happy ending of her "Lady Rose's Daughter" was an artistic error, false to psychology, her heroine being doomed to unhappiness by her character. After creating his characters, and placing them in situations where their individuality has proper scope for action, the author must let them work out their own salvation. A thoroughly artistic work is marked throughout by the quality of "the inevitable," and for this the reader should always be seeking. There is no surer indication of shallowness than the desire to read only about pleasant subjects and characters and events. It is akin to the habit of ignoring the existence of everything disagreeable in life, which Dickens has satirized in his character, Mr. Podsnap. And "Podsnappery" exists among women even more than among men, because of their more sensitive emotional nature. If women are to join with men in making the world better, they must not blink at the misery and vice about them, and the evil elements in human nature and society which produce these. To be good and brave is better for a grown woman than to be "sweet" and "innocent," in the limited sense of these terms. A woman, like a man, should, "see life steadily, and see it whole."
The foundation of a critical habit in reading has a practical bearing, inasmuch as it is a direct training for the positions of book-reviewer and manuscript reader for magazine and book publishers. Since women read more than men, the woman's view of a manuscript is often preferred by publishers. Therefore there are more women than men in the position of literary adviser. These are paid salaries ranging from $25 to $50 a week. Manuscripts are read by the piece for from $3 to $5 each. Book reviews are paid for at all prices, from the possession of the book alone to the payment of a cent a word. It is best for the aspiring critic to practice herself on book reviews first. In these she can with profit display her power to analyze the artistic construction of books, and so develop her abilities as a manuscript reader.
The knowledge of books and the ability to digest their contents are necessary to the making of a library worker, an employment which the great increase in libraries, through the benefaction of Andrew Carnegie and others, is offering to thousands of American women. The salaries are low, but in considering entering upon the work, weight should be given to the opportunities for literary knowledge and culture it affords and its refined surroundings. The making of a descriptive catalogue of the home library, using the card index system, forms an ideal test for the young woman who is uncertain whether she has the taste and ability required in this sort of work. To the student in the home, even though she intends to follow some other vocation, such as teaching or writing, such an inventory of her intellectual store-house will be invaluable. It matters not how small the library is, for "intensive cultivation" is as profitable in mental culture as in agriculture.
Even such accomplishments as music and painting are most cultural when pursued as if the intention of the student were to teach them. Knowledge of technique and of the methods by which its difficulties are overcome is the foundation of all appreciation of art. The only true connoisseur is the one who can enter into the delight felt by the artist in creating his work. Exercise leads to invention. The ancients well said that the contortions of the sibyl generated her inspiration. Critics have been sneeringly defined as "those who have failed in literature and art," but this is not true of the greatest critics, who never carried their creative work to the point of success simply because they had found a better vocation in criticism before reaching such a point. What a loss to the world it would have been had Ruskin developed into a painter, even a great one, instead of the master interpreter and teacher of painting that he did become!
Household employments, such as cooking, needlework, etc., as vocations for the unmarried woman, no less than the married, need only be mentioned here, as their appropriateness for the girl at home is obvious, and they are fully discussed elsewhere in this series. It should be suggested, however, that the greater leisure of the unmarried woman enables her to try experiments in these subjects while the married housewife is too fully occupied by the routine of her duties to undertake them. Indeed, if a woman become a notable cook after marriage, it is often a sign that she is not a notable wife or mother.
It is an old saying that,
"My son's my son till he gets him a wife, But my daughter's my daughter all her life."
By the common bond of sex, a daughter is her mother's natural companion in sympathy, however separated from her in distance. Therefore, when she lives at home, what a special obligation is there to be her mother's comfort and dependence! Even though she acquire greater skill in household affairs, she should still resign herself to the subordinate place of assistant.
The thought that she is becoming useless is the chief dread of a woman who has been a managing worker all her life, and her daughter should carefully avoid bringing this to her mind, indeed, should so act that the ageing mother retains the management of the house, even though her labors diminish. In respect to the direction of children, the elder daughter should take a hint from the manner in which the school-teacher supplements rather than supplants the mother in her care of the young people, leading to a difference in the kind of regard which these feel for them. The sister should always consider herself simply as the eldest, most experienced of the children, and so the natural monitor of the group, and, when necessary, the mediator with the parents.
In a similar fashion the unmarried woman should act toward her neighbors who are wives and mothers. In matters where the interests of children and households are of chief concern she should resign the leadership to the married women, and, after them, to the professional teachers. Religious, social, and civic matters, wherein as a church member and a citizen she is on an equal footing with wives and teachers, afford her ample scope for exercising her instinct for leadership.
Every unmarried woman who lives alone should, whether or not she possess an income, have a vocation. Earnings and wages are not alone good in themselves, but are an additional gratification, in that they supply a proof that the earner's service is of worth to the world. Some day, when social conditions are so adjusted that economic competition is really free, and wealth cannot be obtained save by service, money will be a proper measure of standing in the community. It is all the more a duty now, both to herself, her class, and to society, that the woman who works should contend to the last cent for her part of the wealth that is created by the business in which she is engaged. Where her work is equal to a man's, she should contend for wages equal to his; where it is inferior, she should be willing to accept less; where superior, she should demand more. In these matters women are apt to be either too complaisant or too clamorous. They should first be sure that they are justified in their claims, and then, if right, be firm in their demands, and, if wrong, be resigned to abandon them. The law of supply and demand acting in the labor market allots wages between workers with natural justice—certainly more equitably than the interested opinion either of employer or employee.
It will be seen that the woman in business needs to study the fundamental elements of political economy even more than the housewife. Books and magazines are filled with superficial, obvious advice as to the way in which women as employees should conduct themselves toward their employers and fellow workers, but rarely is there a hint given of the actual rights and obligations of these relations, upon which the proper conduct is based.
Employment is a business contract between employer and employee, in which there is no legal or moral obligation for either party to exceed the terms. Owing to an over-supply of labor, wages may be exceedingly low, even down to the starvation point, but for this condition the employer, if he be not also a monopolist, is not responsible. Indeed, as employer, his presence in the labor market as an element of demand raises the market wage. In fact, it is only by his increasing his business that he can raise wages. If he pay more to his employees than he needs to, or is profitable for him, this increase is not real wages, but a gratuity, something no self-respecting person likes to take. Some other class in society created this condition, and it is this class that the low-paid workers should blame, and, as citizens, take measures against, not the employers. Indeed, they should consider these as their natural allies in making better economic conditions.
Accordingly, the woman in business should have sympathy for her employer, who owing to the prevalent condition of shackled competition has troubles of his own. She should aid him by loyal, efficient work, thus, and only thus, establishing a moral claim upon him to recognize her loyalty in kind. Personal relations, except of this nature, should not be sought by the employee, particularly if she is a woman. Outside of the office or shop she may meet and treat her employer as a fellow citizen and member of society, under the common rights of citizenship and the proper social rules, but in business hours she should obey the strict ethics of business. Thus she may don what dress she will when her work is done, adopt all the eccentricities of fashion she pleases, but she should wear with cheerfulness, and even pride, the simple dress prescribed, for good and sufficient reasons, as her working costume. Even when no such regulations are made, her good sense and taste should lead her to adopt a modest, practical working dress, simple mode of arranging the hair, etc. This is always agreeable to customers, and it is by pleasing these she best pleases her employer.
Stenographers and secretaries have a special obligation to keep sacred the confidences of their employers. If they find that in so doing they are made instruments in perpetrating frauds on other business men, or the community in general, they have no right to expose these. Their only proper course is to resign their positions, holding sacred, however, the knowledge gained while acting as employees. It is only when formally relieved of this obligation by legal compulsion to testify in court that they may reveal this knowledge.
While it is the custom of an employer to demand references of the employee, and not give them for himself, the only safe course for a woman seeking employment is to look into the character of the man for whom she is to work, and the nature of his business. This she may do indirectly in the case of character, and directly in the case of nature of business. If the employer refuses to impart this, saying, "Your work will be to do whatever I ask you," it is a blind, and therefore dangerous contract into which you are entering, and you should withdraw from it in time.
When an employee has proved her efficiency, and has seen that it is producing an amount of returns to the business of which she is not receiving her proportionate share, it is her right and duty to ask for an increase in wages. If she fails to receive this, she should investigate the conditions in the labor market of her class, and guide her action accordingly. If she finds that there is a demand for workers of her ability at the higher wage, she should again proffer her request to her employer, with a statement of this fact. If he still refuses the increase, she should resign her position, upon proper notice, and seek employment elsewhere.
When the unmarried woman employs herself in free service for the public good there will be no need for her to contend for the proper returns, which will be the love and respect of the community, given her in full measure. In comparison with these rewards, the honors of club president and society leader, for which many women contend with a rivalry that surpasses in bitterness contests for political honors among men, are mean and empty. The words of the Master to His disciples, that he who would be first among them should be servant to his fellows, should be taken to heart by American women, before whom are opening new and vast opportunities for the display of pride and ambition no less than for modest, faithful service.
Nature's Intention in Marriage—The Woman's Crime in Marrying for Support—Her Blunder in Marrying an Inefficient Man for Love—The Proper Union—Mutual Aid of Husband and Wife—Manipulating a Husband—By Deceit—By Tact—Confidence Between Man and Wife.
"Her very soul is in home, and in the discharge of all those quiet virtues of which home is the centre. Her husband will be to her the object of all her care, solicitude and affection. She will see nothing but by him, and through him. If he is a man of sense and virtue, she will sympathize in his sorrows, divert his fatigue, and share his pleasures. If she becomes the property of a churlish or negligent husband, she will suit his taste also, for she will not long survive his unkindness."—SIR WALTER SCOTT—Waverley.
Marriage is the crown of woman's life, a dignity that is all the more honorable because it is of general expectation and realization. There is a presumption that the unmarried woman has missed the central and significant reason for her existence, the perpetuation and nurture of the race, and that the burden is upon her for compensating society by other services for this lost opportunity. Marriage for a woman means attainment first and fulfilment after, the reward given in advance of labor, and therefore entailing a special moral obligation that it be justified in its fruits. Nature gives the future mother peace of mind, rest from doubt as to career and from responsibility as to breadwinning, in order that she may tranquilly devote herself to her special function as the maker of the home.
The fact that in the normal home the wife is relieved from the necessity of earning the living of the home sometimes has the effect of making her careless about expenditure. The thoughtless wife, and here thoughtless means selfish, assumes that the problem of providing is "up to" the husband and takes no care to aid him in its solution. If the suggestion of her being a burden to him ever does cross her mind, she is ready to excuse herself by consolatory sayings such as "Two can live cheaper than one," the truth of which, though universal when every wife was a producer of such things as clothing that are now bought is now the case only in agricultural homes, and even there has lost a great deal of its force. Men do not marry now, as they once did, for economic reasons, but rather in spite of them, for the higher rewards of love and companionship of wife and children, and this the wife should recognize by giving her husband the things for which he has made his economic sacrifice. In the old days a man who did not marry paid for his liberty by loss of physical comfort and wealth. Thus Hesiod, one of the earliest Greek poets, in his Farmer's Almanac called "Works and Days," coupled the marrying of a wife with the purchase of a yoke of oxen and a plow as the first things needful in beginning to farm, and this in despite of the fact that he was a woman-hater.
Now it is the woman who is tempted to marry for economic reasons, to be certain of material support while she exercises herself in those household avocations and social pleasures which constitute the main activities of women. This is a legitimate consideration only when the interest of the man is also taken into account. Marriage to a man whom she does not love is a crime for any woman; giving falsely the offerings of love for material things is harlotry even though legitimated by vows and ceremonies.
On the other hand, marriage for love to a man who cannot support her is a sad mistake for a woman who is not able or willing to take the place of breadwinner, for such a union defeats its own purpose. Therefore, in kindness to the man as well as to herself, such a woman should satisfy herself that he can support her, not necessarily in "the style to which she has been accustomed," but in the style necessary for her to perform the duties of homemaker and mother. Those marriages are the happiest where a wife can also enter into sympathy with her husband's business ambitions in particular and ideals of life in general. Here she is peculiarly his helpmate. He can hire a housekeeper, but not a companion of his bosom.
A girl properly reared will naturally be drawn to a man complementary to her in character—not "opposite," as is so often said. Opposition implies antagonism, which would be the ruin of home life. The term complementary implies similarity in the main elements of character with adaptable differences. Good qualities, such as strength and delicacy, may complement each other, but not evil and good qualities, such as brutality and tenderness. As Scott says in the quotation at the head of this chapter, a tender wife may suit the taste of a churlish husband, but only by not long surviving his unkindness. While such opposition may not result in actual death, it certainly leads to the demise of all that makes life worth living.
A woman should not expect to find a perfect husband. Indeed, her chief usefulness to him will be in her strengthening his weak points, and cultivating his right inclinations until they are confirmed habits. Yet in this work she should realize the imperfections in herself, and respond to the similar aid he gives her by his example and suggestions. Mutual aid is the great bond of marriage, as it is of all human relations.
Women, from their weaker condition, have from ages past been trained to gain their desires from men by indirection. In the worst form, this appears as deceit; in the best, as tact. Laying aside the moral aspect, deceit is always unwise in a wife, since, in time, it defeats its own end. Many a woman thinks that she is deceiving her husband, since she wins her points, when he thoroughly recognizes her machinations, and accedes to them without contest simply for peace in the household, acquiring a feeling of moral superiority to her which, though it may be tolerant, is nevertheless contemptuous. But when she employs loving tact, especially in the improvement of her husband's habits and traits, even though he realizes it, he is at heart grateful for it, and proud of his wife's superiority in these points.
In those matters where the characters of husband and wife are strong enough to permit frankness, this should always be employed. In all the grave problems of life there should be perfect confidence between the pair who have taken the solemn vows of wedlock. Any third party that enjoys a superior confidence with one of them, whether relative or friend, even the pastor or family physician, is the man invoked against in the marriage charge, who "puts them asunder." Where unhappily the husband is irreligious and the wife is forced to seek confidential help and consolation of her spiritual adviser, she should strictly limit these to religious matters, else she will grow apart from her husband. George Moore, in his collection of stories entitled, "The Untilled Field," presents the propensity of women in Ireland to run to the priest for guidance on every question, as the chief cause of their domestic tragedies. In America the family physician is as apt as the pastor to be made the recipient of such confidences, with evil results where he is not wise enough to advise that the husband is the proper person to whom the wife should go.
Elements in Choice of a Home—The City Apartment—Furniture for a Temporary Home—Couches—Rugs—Bookcases—The Suburban and Country House—Economic Considerations—Buying an Old House—Building a New One—Supervising the Building—The Woman's Wishes.
Of love, of joy, of peace and plenty: where, Supporting and supported, polished friends And dear relations mingle into bliss. JAMES THOMSON—The Seasons
When husband and wife are truly mated, they form a co-partnership in the building of the home. In this work the man, occupied with his business, must leave a large part of the direction, even in material things, to the woman. And these material things are of primary consideration, as they are apt to be in every problem of life. The happiness of home is immediately and always dependent on the kind of a house used for dwelling and its equipment for utility and comfort.
The first thing to be considered is the location of the home. The choice of a good neighborhood, from both social and sanitary viewpoints, is essential. Good neighbors are almost as necessary as good air and good drainage. Even before the children have come, it is a limitation on the function of a home for husband and wife to be forced to seek social life entirely outside the neighborhood. If charity (that is, loving, helpful associations) begins at home, it certainly does not stop at the threshold, or leap therefrom over those nearest us. The best citizens are those who take a human interest in the people of their street, or ward, or village, for influence in civic reform is dependent on neighborliness.
Children are good citizens in this respect by nature. Limited to association with children of the neighborhood, they form an affection for their playmates, which may lead to good or evil results, as these playmates are moral or vicious in their tendencies. Therefore, at the formative period of character children should be guarded from the debasing influences of improper companions, as well as such institutions as saloons and low dance-halls which are generally found to be the local causes of bad neighbors.
Of course, a neighborhood should be selected where there are good public schools, churches, and allied institutions for education and culture. It is always a loss to a child in this democratic country to be educated in a private school, and yet, especially in cities, careful parents are often compelled to resort to private instruction for their girls and boys because of the lack of refining influences in the public schools. This is why it is often better for families, when the father works in the city, to live in the suburbs, where, as a rule, the best public schools are to be found.
But it may not be feasible to live out of the city, especially in the first years of married life, and therefore the home life must begin in an apartment. The same sanitary considerations that obtain in choice of a neighborhood are essential in the choice of a flat. Good air, light, space, proper plumbing, and general cleanness are to be sought. Owing to the general demand for these advantages, and a limited supply of them which is due to economic conditions prevailing in our cities, they unfortunately require money, therefore, the flat-seeker is compelled to do the best he can with that part of his income which he may safely appropriate for rent. As a rule, this amount is not more than one-fourth of income.
When an apartment house has been properly built, and the walls are settled and the plastering dry, it generally comes up to the standard of comfort and health. Here the latest improvements in plumbing will be apt to be found, and there will be no danger of vermin. Then, too, a concession is more apt to be made by the landlord, who is anxious to secure tenants, by remission of a month's or a fortnight's rent, to be taken out after the first month. The landlord of such a house is also readier than the owner of an old one to make decorations, and even alterations, to suit the taste of the tenant.
The walls in the kitchen should be painted rather than papered, and other parts of the flat designed primarily for utility. Since light is the great desideratum, the paint, as a rule, should be light in color, though soft and tinted in tone for restfulness to the eye. Where wallpaper is used, it should have the same characteristics. Fanciful designs should be avoided. Indeed, plain paper forms the best base for artistic color schemes in the decoration of rooms, the variety in which is best obtained by the choice of furniture and pictures and other wall ornaments.
When there is a prospect that living in apartments will be only a temporary arrangement, the furniture should be chosen with a view to its adaptability for a house. Thus folding-beds should be avoided, and other articles that gain space by complexity, however ingenious. Simplicity is the quality to be desired. Thus if the exigency of space requires that a living room by day be converted into a sleeping room, a couch should be bought for it, instead of a folding bed. It will then serve the purpose of a sofa as well as a bed. If it is a box couch, further economy will be gained by its use as a place to store the bedclothes. But the simplest of all arrangements is a divan bed, formed of springs and mattress alone, and supported on legs nailed to the corners of the spring-frame. Over it a cover should be thrown during the day, and the pillows in use, if there is not room for them elsewhere, should be slipped into covers harmonious in color with the couch drapery. Such a reclining and sleeping couch may also be used in bedrooms, although an iron or brass bedstead gives an appearance of neatness and personal privacy that is desirable in such chambers.
Where there is lack of closet space and lockers, trunks can be utilized in a flat for storing things. Steamer trunks that can be placed beneath the beds and couches are therefore the best kind to buy. They can also be readily converted into window seats by making pads of cotton batting to fit the tops, and placing over them covers and pillow cushions harmonious with the decoration of the room. Long flat "wardrobe trunks" are sold, which contain at one end rods for hanging clothes, so that, when stood up on the other end against the wall they serve as wardrobes. They always look, however, like makeshifts, and so are more useful in travelling than in the home.
Rugs are more desirable than carpets in a city apartment, since they can be more readily cleaned, and, in case of moving to another flat or a house in the suburbs, will be more adaptable to the new situation.
Bookcases in a temporary home should be of the unit system, where each shelf is a separate box enabling the books to be moved without repacking, and permitting rearrangement to suit the new situation, or the acquisition of new books. Where, however, the lower part of wall space is desired to give room for articles of furniture such as couches, shelves can be built, beginning at four and one-half or five feet above the floor. Mr. Edwin Markham, the poet, whose home overflows with books, has greatly economized space by building for them a broad lower shelf, about eighteen inches wide, and, three inches above this, another shelf twelve inches wide, and, three inches above this, a third six inches wide. When these are filled with books the titles of all are exposed, and, by taking out the volume or two immediately in front, a volume on one of the back shelves is readily obtained. Thus, by walking about his room, Mr. Markham can look with level eyes for the book he wants, and procure it without recourse to a chair or stepladder. This plan of banking books also lends itself to a decorative arrangement of them.
Except in matters such as these, where economy is imperative, the furnishing of a city apartment does not differ essentially from that of a house, and the reader is therefore referred to the discussion of this in the following pages.
The suburban, village, or country home differs from the city apartment, or even city house, in that it has been built without the primary consideration of space. It is separated from other houses, even though by the narrowest space of green lawn, that gives a house the individuality and independence without which it is hard for it to gather the associations of home. Even when a detached house is found in a city, its architecture is generally hampered by its adaptation to its narrow grounds. It rarely has that rounded development of character which is as desirable in a home as in a person.
In selecting a rented home in the suburbs, the cost of the husband's transportation to and from the city should be added to the rent to keep this within the proper ratio to income, just as the difference in price of provisions should be considered in that portion allotted to food. Provisions, even country produce, are often dearer in suburban communities than in the city, and less saving can be made by close marketing, because the farmers and gardeners find it more profitable to send their produce to the center of greatest demand, and therefore of readiest sale, even though it costs more for transportation than to the smaller markets near by. So suburban grocers and provision men are wont to buy in the city markets, and add the cost of transportation back from the city, and an additional profit for the transaction, to the price to the consumer.
Owing to the close competition for householders among real-estate men, it is now almost as easy to purchase a suburban home as it is to rent one, and it is therefore advisable to do this. The interest on purchase, and the fixed charges of taxes, insurance, water rent, etc., should be counted as rent, but a higher percentage of income may be safely allotted to these than to rent proper, since the purchase is also an investment. As a rule, the increase of land value near a growing city will considerably exceed the diminution in the value of the improvements. Indeed, owing to the constant advance of cost of building material in recent years, there is often enhancement rather than depreciation in the house value.
For these economic reasons it is advisable to buy an old house when its cost is less than the cost of constructing a new one of the same desirability. The home-seeker, however, should curb his propensity to make extensive alterations, for, one leading to another, he will find at the end (if he ever reaches it) that he has virtually built a new house at a cost greater than he could afford.
On the other hand, he should avoid those houses built on speculation to sell. In these a showy appearance is gained at the expense of durability of construction, and the purchaser will find that he must pay in plumbing, coal bills, and general repairs an amount he had not calculated upon as interest on the home, for, unless he rebuilds the house at ruinous expense, these will be annual charges.
The most satisfactory way, and the one leading to great enjoyment in satisfying the "nest-building" instinct which possesses newly mated people no less than birds, is for the owners themselves to plan and superintend the building of the home. There is an infinite variety of architectural plans spread before the homeseeker in books and magazines. An examination of these will be of great value to him in clarifying his hazy ideas, but he should not settle upon any one of them without expert opinion. He should employ a local architect, or at least a builder with practical architectural ideas, to examine every feature of the plan selected as nearest the homeseeker's ideal, and revise it according to local conditions, cost and availability of material, etc. Money is always well spent that relieves one of responsibility, enabling him to say thereafter, "Well, I did every thing I could to have the thing done properly."
The woman's wish should be paramount in planning the building. The home is her workshop, and she should have every convenience she requires to do her work properly. Things that appear of minor importance to a man, the architect and builder no less than her husband, are to her most vital. What pockets are to a man or business woman in clothes, closets and shelves are to a woman in her house, and yet she usually has to fight for them with the architect as the business woman does for pockets with her dressmaker. Unless she has worked out the practicability of her ideas, however, she will be at a great disadvantage with the experts, and therefore it is wise for her to make herself as familiar as possible with the main principles of building and the special details of the improvements she desires, especially as this knowledge will be of great use in seeing that the work is done as ordered. Where she has not acquired this knowledge, and the husband is either incompetent or not free to undertake this supervision, it is well to employ a contractor, arranging for thorough, satisfactory work, and holding him strictly to the contract.
The prime requisite in a house is that it be adapted for home life, be a comfortable place in which to sleep, cook, eat, rest and read, talk and laugh, and play and pray; in a word, in which to do all the work that enables these necessities and pleasures to be obtained. Next to the comfort of the family comes that of the outside world. It is desirable, though not essential, that the home contain facilities for entertaining.
Essential Parts of a House—Double Use of Rooms—Utility of Piazzas—Landscape Gardening—Water-supply—Water-power—Illumination —Dangers from Gas—How to Read a Gas-meter—How to Test Kerosene —Care of Lamps—Use of Candles—Making the Best of the Old House.
The parts that are desirable in a well-ordered house may be enumerated as follows: Cellar, the kitchen, the storehouse, the pantry, the laundry, the dining-room, the living or sitting-room, the lavatory, the parlor, the hall, the library, the nursery, the sewing-room, the bedrooms, including guest chamber, the attic, the piazzas.
Where economy of space must be practiced, storehouse and pantry may be combined, and nursery and sewing-room; and one of the family bedrooms may be devoted to the use of the occasional guest. The hall may be thrown into the parlor. The parlor may be properly converted into a library and music room, although when the father is of retiring literary tastes, he should have a "den" of his own, where he may read and smoke in peace.
The parlor is too often wasted space in a house. As the "best room," and very often the largest room, it is reserved for reception of guests, weddings, and funerals, and at other times shut up in gloomy grandeur from the family, except, perhaps, as the place of banishment for a naughty child. Except when used as a library and music room, it should be one of the smallest in the house, and may, indeed, be entirely dispensed with. The family living-room is not an improper place in which to receive a guest, especially one whom it is desired should "feel at home."
Of the rooms for the family, the nursery is the best to dispense with, the very young children being kept under the mother's oversight in her sewing-room, or the attic, or a loft in an out-building being fitted up for the elder ones as a play-room. In the case of the loft, it is well to equip it as a simple gymnasium.
It is mistaken economy to use the living-room as a dining-room, since this interferes with the orderly work of the house, no less than with the comfort of the family. It may with propriety, however, be made also the sewing-room, and, in general, the mother's managerial office. Here she should keep her desk and her household account-books, and meet the tradesmen and other business callers. It is also more suited than the parlor for use as a family reading-room and working library. Disorder that betokens use, such as magazines on the center-table, or of papers on the desk, is here not inappropriate. Indeed, it gives a homelike appearance even to the social guest.
China and glassware and silver arranged in proper array in wall closets, cabinets, and sideboards are the most appropriate decorations of the dining-room. It is not at all necessary that there should be pictures on the wall of game, fruit and flowers, or "still life" studies of vegetables and kitchen utensils. Indeed, these have become so expected that a change is quite a relief to a guest, who would welcome even the death's head that was the invariable ornament of the Egyptian feasts. Any pictures which are lively and cheerful in suggestion are suitable. Those that have a story to tell or a lesson to point are never out of place in a room frequented by children.
For convenience the table-linen should be kept in drawers or lockers built beneath the shelves containing the china. A butler's pantry is not an essential when such arrangements as these are made.
The kitchen, pantry, storeroom, and laundry form, as it were, the "factory" of the house, with the range as the central "engine." Accordingly they should be planned with respect to each other to save steps. Fortunately this means also saving expense in construction. Architects have been most ingenious as well as practical in perfecting these arrangements, and the housebuilder, therefore, needs no advice from us.
It cannot be too much emphasized, however, that the cellar is, from the standpoints of sanitation and comfort, the most important part of the house. There should be no attempt to save expense by limiting its proper size, materials for walls, windows for ventilation, drainage, etc., for money so saved will inevitably be paid out many times over in coal bills, doctor's fees, and, perhaps, undertaker's bills. A dry cellar must be secured at all costs, for the air from it permeates the whole house. Where this is damp, it leads not alone to disease among the inmates, but to the disintegration of the house itself, through what is called "dry rot," but is paradoxically the result of dampness. Edgar Allan Poe, in his weird story, "The Fall of the House of Usher," has given a mystical interpretation of the dissolution of an old homestead which really has a scientific explanation that might be found in the cellar.
The proper floor of a cellar is a layer of broken stones in which tile drains are laid, having outlets into a common drain, and over which a layer of concrete is placed, The walls, of plastered stone, brick, or concrete, should rise above the ground far enough to permit small windows, and prevent the admission of surface water from rain or snow. These windows should open from within, upward, and there should be hooks on the ceiling to keep them open for ventilation.
Where a house is heated by a furnace, the style of this should be selected with great care, special regard being had to the economy of fuel. The systems of steam-heating, hot-water heating, or hot-air heating have each their merits, depending on the location of the house and the climate of the region. The cellar can also be used as a storeroom for those things not affected by the heat of the furnace, such as perishable food requiring an ice-box or a cool place, vegetables, especially those with a penetrating odor; apples, canned fruit and goods, etc., should be kept here, and barrels of commodities, such as vinegar, that are bought in large quantities. Shelves should be built on the walls and hooks hung on the rafters to increase the facilities for storage. Articles hung upon the hooks should be tied in paper bags. It is well to have the cellar ceiled, to keep out the dust of the house and reduce the risk of fire. Here, of course, is the natural place for the coal-bin, and, when there are no out-buildings, the man's workshop. The laundry may also be placed in the cellar, and, in stormy weather, the clothes hung there to dry. In the country the cellar is a good place in which to build an ice-vault.
The kitchen should, of course, be airy and sunny. The sink should be placed near a south window, if possible, to prevent freezing of pipes. An iron sink is more cleanly than a wooden one, and cheaper than porcelain and copper. It should have a platform with room for two dishpans, and a drying shelf, raised at one end to permit drainage. Where economy of space is essential, this shelf may be removable, permitting the use for other things of the table beneath.
Two other tables are necessary in a proper kitchen equipment, one covered with zinc for a work-table, set near the range, and the other a plain table set near the dining-room, for the prepared dishes. There should be three lights, lamps in brackets, gas-jets, or electric bulbs, near the sink, range and food-table respectively. The refrigerator should be put outside the kitchen, in some such place as a sheltered part of the back piazza. Commodities such as tea and coffee, not requiring ice, should be kept in covered jars, preferably earthen, on a dresser or shelf, where the bread-box may also stand. There should be a kitchen closet for the flour-barrel and sugar-box, which should be covered for further protection from dust, flies, dampness, etc., and for the canned goods in immediate requisition.
The stove or range should be selected with reference on the one hand to the amount of cooking to be done for the family, and on the other to the saving of fuel. Where there is a water supply, of course there should be a boiler connected with the range. This should be large enough to assure a sufficient supply of hot water for the house. There should be a shelf near the range for such articles as the pepper-box and salt-box which are in constant use in cooking, and hooks should be near at hand for hanging up the poker, lid-lifter, and a coarse towel for use in taking pans from the oven. Other shelves and hooks, of course, should be put in for the various utensils necessary in the kitchen.
The floor of the kitchen should be covered with a good quality of linoleum. A perforated rubber mat may be placed at the sink, although this is not necessary. In fact, it is a better plan for the woman in the kitchen, as indeed elsewhere, to get rubber heels for her shoes. The Arabs have a proverb that to him who is shod it is as if the whole world were covered with leather, and rubber heels similarly cause every floor in the house, whether bare or carpeted, to be equally easy to the feet of the busy housewife.
The laundry should be supplied with two tubs, an ironing-table, an ironing-board, and a stove for the boiler and the irons. The ironing-board should be supported upon two "horses" of the height of the table. The table should be supplied with an iron-rest.
In a well-planned house there should be separate bedrooms for every inmate except the very small children. It is quite an economy in the care of the house that each child, at as early an age as possible, should have its own room and be taught to take care of it. Since the room is designed primarily for sleeping, care should be taken that the bed be placed in such a position that the light falls from behind the sleeper's head. The dresser should be so placed that the light falls on the face of the occupant of the room when he is looking into the mirror. Even at the expense of space in the bedroom proper, there should be a large closet in every sleeping-room. The deeper the closet the better, for, by using rods attached to the back of the closet and projecting through its width, whereon clothes-hangers may be strung, far more room will be obtained for clothes than where hooks and nails are employed. By the use of these clothes-hangers, too, suits and dresses may be kept in much better order. The top of the closet may be occupied by one broad, high shelf, whereon hats and bonnets may be kept in their proper receptacles. Shoes should be kept in a drawer at the bottom of the closet, rather than thrown on the floor beneath the dresser. It is a mistake to substitute a curtain for the door of the closet, since it is of the first importance to keep the clothing free from dust.
Shelves are better than closets for the keeping of the bed linen. It is a handy thing to have a separate linen closet in the house, but this is not essential. The sewing-room of the mother is a suitable place for keeping the linen. Shelves are preferable to closets for this purpose. There should also be a medicine closet or locker in the mother's room which will be handy in case of sudden illness among the children.
In view of the importance of sanitation, more thought than is ordinarily allotted to it should be given to the lavatory. Where there is room to spare, it is best to have the bath separate from the toilet, in order to prevent inconvenience in use. There should be a basin and toilet upon the ground floor, and a bathroom and toilet upon the sleeping floor. The walls of the lavatory should be tiled, or, if this is too expensive, they should be covered with water-proof paper. All toilet arrangements should be systematically kept clean, and the necessary supplies at all times provided.
Piazzas may be made to add no less to the utility than to the beauty and comfort of the house. A lower back piazza, covered with vines, is the ideal place in summer for eating and such heating labors as ironing. When thoroughly secured from intrusion, an upper balcony furnishes the best of sleeping quarters for one wise and brave enough to scout the superstition of the bad effects of night air. Many persons of delicate health, even consumptives, have been restored to vigorous strength by sleeping in such a place, not only in summer but throughout the winter, save in beating storms.
Closely conjoined with forethought for utility in the planning of a house is forethought for beauty. It is well to have an artistic imagination in visualizing, as it were, the "hominess" of the house as it will appear after its rawness has been mellowed by time, and its forms have been endeared by association. This imagination is specially essential in the planting of trees, arrangement of flower gardens, the choice of the kind of enclosure, whether hedge or fence, and, in general, all that is known under the name of landscape gardening.
The housekeeper's work is greatly dependent upon the kind of water supply available for the house. In cities and towns the kind of supply is fixed for her, but in the country she is afforded her freedom of choice. She has a choice of water from wells or springs, which is more or less "hard," that is, impregnated with lime, and water collected from rain or melting snow. For household purposes rainwater is the more desirable, and, when properly filtered and kept in clean cisterns protected from the larvae of mosquitoes and other disease-bearing insects, it is also the best for drinking purposes. To one accustomed to drinking hard water from a well or spring, rain water is a little unpalatable, but after he is accustomed to its use he will prefer it. It is always wise to secure an analysis of the drinking water of the house, since water reputed pure because of its clearness and coldness is as apt as any other to be contaminated. Where soft water is not available for household use, hard water may be softened by the addition to it of pearline or soda, or by boiling, in the latter case the lime in it being precipitated to the bottom of the kettle or boiler.
When well water is used for drinking some knowledge of the geology of the home grounds is essential. Thus, because the top of a well is on higher ground than the cess-pool is no reason for assuming that the contents of the latter may not seep into the water, for the inclination of the strata of the rocks may be in a contrary direction to that of the surface of the ground.
When filters and strainers are used they should be carefully cleaned at regular intervals, since if they are permitted to accumulate impurities they become a source of contamination instead of its remedy. Every once in a while the housekeeper should take off the strainers from the faucets and boil them.
There are many excellent systems for obtaining water power for the house in the country, each of which has its special advantages. The pumping of water to a tank at the top of the house by a windmill is that most commonly used. This is the cheapest method, but the most unsightly. Small kerosene or hot-air engines may be employed for the power at very slight cost, and will prove useful for other purposes, such as sawing wood or even operating the sewing-machines. Owing to the many inventions for isolated lighting plants by acetylene and other kinds of gas, dwellers in the country have virtually as free a choice of illumination as the people in towns and cities.
Great caution is necessary in the use of any form of illuminating gas, since all produce asphyxiation. Accordingly, all gas fixtures of the house should be regularly inspected to see that there is no escape of the subtile, destructive fluid. The odor of escaping gas which is so unpleasant is really a blessing, in that it informs the householder of his danger. A cock that turns completely around and, after extinguishing the light, permits the escape of the gas, is more dangerous than a poisonous serpent. Yet there may be nothing radically wrong with this fixture, and the use of the screwdriver may make it as good as new. Gas should never be turned low when there is a draught in the room, nor allowed to burn near hanging draperies. Care should always be taken in turning out a gas-stove or a drop-light to do so at the fixture and not at the burner. This is not alone safer, but it keeps the rubber tube from acquiring a disagreeable odor from the gas that has been left in it.
Great economy in the consumption of gas may be secured by the use of Welsbach and other incandescent burners. Where these are not employed, care should be taken to select the most economical kind of gas tips, and to see that when these become impaired by use they are replaced.
In the large cities there is constant complaint of defective gas-meters, so much so that inspectors have been appointed to correct this abuse. It has been found, however, that many complaints have been unfounded because the housewives were not able properly to read the meter. Directions how to do this will therefore be found useful. A gas-meter has three dials marking tip to 100,000 feet, 10,000 feet, and 1,000 feet respectively. The figures on the second dial are arranged in opposite order from those on the first and third dials, and this often leads to an error in reckoning. However, there should be no trouble in setting down the figures indicated by the pointer on each dial. We first set down the figure indicated upon the first dial in the units place of a period of three places, then that indicated upon the second dial in the tens place, and then that indicated upon the third dial in the hundreds place. To these we add two ciphers, to obtain the number of feet of gas that has been burned since the meter was set at zero on the three dials. From this number we subtract the total of feet burned at the time when the preceding gas bill was rendered. This is generally called on the bill "present state of meter." The result of the subtraction will be the amount of gas that has been burned since the last bill was rendered. For example:
95,300, amount indicated on dial. 82,700, amount marked "present state of meter" on preceding gas bill. ——— 12,600, amount of gas for which current bill is rendered.
Equal care must be exercised when kerosene is used for illumination, since, while it is not so dangerous directly to life, it is the chief source of the destruction of property. Accordingly the nature of kerosene and the way it illuminates is a profitable subject of study if we would prevent destructive fires. Really, we do not burn the oil, but the gas that arises from the oil when liberated by the burning wick and becomes incandescent when fed by the oxygen of the air. While kerosene requires a high temperature for combustion, it is closely related to other products of coal oil, such as naphtha and gasoline, which become inflammable at a low heat and are therefore very dangerous. Since the cheap grades of kerosene approach these products in quality, care should be taken to see that it is of high "proof" in order to prevent explosions. The proof required of kerosene differs in various States; that in some is as low as 100 degrees Fahrenheit, that is, the temperature at which the oil will give off vapors that will ignite. This is too low a proof, for such a degree of temperature is quite common in the household. It is safe only to use that kerosene which is at least 140 degrees proof, for then, even though the oil is spilled, there is little danger that it will ignite except in the immediate presence of flame. There is no danger at all in soaking wood with this kind of oil in a stove or grate wherein the fire has gone out.
To test kerosene, put a thermometer into a cup partially filled with cold water, and add boiling water until the mercury stands at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Then take out the thermometer and pour two teaspoonfuls of kerosene into the cup and pass over it the flame of a candle. If the oil ignites, it is unsafe.
In order to prevent the flame from running down into the lamp and causing an explosion, the wick should be soft, filling the burner completely. The highest efficiency in the form of illumination is obtained by round burners, especially those in lamps which admit air to the inside of the wick and so induce the largest possible amount of combustion. Such a lamp produces quite a high degree of heat, and will answer the purpose of an oil-stove in a small room.
Contrary to the popular idea, wicks should be carefully trimmed with scissors rather than with a match or other instrument. In extinguishing a lamp one should first turn down the wick and blow across the chimney, never down the chimney.
Owing to the fact that the wick is constantly bringing up oil by capillary attraction, whether it is lighted or unlighted, lamps in which the wicks have not been cared are kept continually greasy. In fact, a lamp that is greasy or that gives out a bad odor is one that has not been properly cared. With due attention, lamps are as clean and handy a means of illumination as any other form.
Candles, that are now used chiefly for decorative purposes, may still be practically employed for carrying light about the house. The danger from a falling candle carried by a child up to bed is not nearly so great as that which may result from either spilt oil from a broken lamp or the cutting glass of its chimney.
To those who live in an old house, all the foregoing advice should prove a source of helpfulness in making the best of the old home, rather than of dissatisfaction with its seeming shortcomings. There are many simple, inexpensive ways of making it conform to the model house. Expense need only be incurred in sanitary improvement, such as the better drainage of the cellar, enabling it to be utilized for purposes which now crowd the "work-rooms" of the home, and the alterations of the windows to permit better lighting and ventilation. Very often a room can be made to exchange purposes by a simple transference of furniture, thus saving the housekeeper steps. A woodhouse can be converted into a summer kitchen, and the old one, during this season, used as a dining-room, though it may be found even pleasanter to eat out of doors under an arbor or on a wide piazza. A porch may be partitioned off into a laundry, and the attic ceiled and partitioned for use as a bedroom. Very often an old boxed-off stairway, built in the days when it was thought unseemly to show a connection with the upper bedrooms, can be relieved of its door and walls, to the increase of space in the lower room, and of the beauty of its appearance. Indeed, as a rule, there are too many doors in an old house. Some of these can be altered into open arched entrances, making one large commodious room out of two little inconvenient ones. Unused out-buildings can be turned into playrooms for the children, and even sleeping quarters. All these are changes that make for the beauty no less than the utility of home, as proved by the fact that many artists, especially those who have studied abroad where old country houses are more or less of this unconventional character, go into the country and alter in this fashion old and even abandoned houses into houses admired for their charming individuality. Illustrations of such "hermitages" frequently appear in the magazines, and may be studied for suggestions. Sometimes the alteration is of the exterior only. The repainting in a proper color, or the simple creosote staining of a weather-beaten house, with the addition of a rustic porch or the breaking of a corner bedroom into a balcony, will sometimes so transform an old house that it looks as if it were a new creation.
FURNITURE AND DECORATION
The Qualities to Be Sought in Furniture—Home-made Furniture—Semi-made Furniture—Good Furniture as an Investment—Furnishing and Decorating the Hall—The Staircase—The Parlor—Rugs and Carpets—Oriental Rugs—Floors—Treatment of Hardwood—Of Other Wood—How to Stain a Floor—Filling as a Floor Covering.
Necessity invented stools, Convenience next suggested elbow-chairs, And Luxury the accomplished sofa last.
WILLIAM COWPER—The Task.
Utility, comfort and elegance are, as Cowper shows, the three successive purposes for which furniture was designed. And to-day the order of development remains also the order of importance. The first things to be desired in any article of furniture are durability and simple application to its purpose. These being found, a person naturally looks to see if the use of them will contribute to his physical pleasure as well as his convenience, that the back of a chair is the right height and curvature to fit his back, and the seat is not so deep as to strain his legs; that the table or desk is one he can spread his legs under in natural fashion, and rest his elbows upon with ease; in short, that the furniture conforms to his bodily requirements, as the chair and bed of the "wee teenty bear" suited exactly the little old woman of Southey's tale. Last of all, the aesthetic pleasure, the appreciation of beauty by the mind, decides the choice in cases of equal utility and comfort. The artistic considerations are so many that furniture has become a branch of art, like sculpture or painting, with a large literature and history of its own.
Since most authorities on the subject largely ignore the questions of utility and comfort, devoting themselves to the questions of aesthetic style, it will be useful to our purpose here to confine the discussion to the neglected qualities. As a rule, a durable, useful, and comfortable article is a beautiful one. At least it has the beauty of "grace," by which terms the old writers on aesthetics characterized perfect adaptation to purpose, and the beauty of what they called "homeliness," or, as we would now say, since this term has been perverted, of "hominess," the suggestion of adding to the pleasure of the household.
The quality of "hominess" is greatly increased in an article of furniture by a frank look or "home-made" appearance. There is no more delightful occupation for the leisure hours of a man or woman, and no more useful training for a boy or girl, than the making of simple articles of home furniture. Really, the first article of furniture which should be brought into the house is a well-equipped tool-chest, and the first room which should be fitted up is the workshop. A vast amount of labor will be saved thereby in unpacking, adjusting, repairing, and polishing the old and the new household articles, so that life in the new home be begun under the favorable auspices of the great household deity, the Goddess of Order. When it is further considered that often small repairs made by a carpenter cost more than a new article, the tool-chest will be valued by the family as a most profitable investment.
If it is not possible to procure the proper materials and tools for making the entire article, some part of the work, the shaping, and certainly the staining and polishing, can be done at home. If the visitor does not recognize the home quality in such an article, the maker does, and will always have a pride and affection for it.
Many furniture manufacturers give in their catalogues designs of semi-made or "knock together" furniture, that is, the parts of tables, chairs, etc., cut out and planed, which it is intended that the purchaser put together himself. These, as a rule, are made of good material befitting the hand workmanship which will be put upon them, and are offered at a considerable reduction from the price asked for ready-made furniture of the same material.
Furniture stains of excellent quality are found in every hardware store and paint shop, which can easily be applied by the merest amateur.
It is never wise to buy flimsy furniture, however cheap. As a rule, there is too much furniture in the American home. It is better to get along with a few good, durable articles, even though a little expensive, than with a profusion of inferior ones. These soon reveal their "cheap and nasty qualities," are in constant need of repair, and quickly descend from the place of honor in the parlor to be endured a while in the living room, then abused in the kitchen, and, finally, burnt as fuel. Good wood and leather, however, are long in becoming shabby, and even then require only a little attention to be restored to good condition. When it is considered that in furniture there is virtually no monopoly of design or invention, and one therefore pays for material and labor alone, and competition has reduced these to the lowest terms, the purchaser is certain to get the worth of his money when he pays a higher price for durable material and honest workmanship. When it is further recalled that our chief heirlooms from the former generations are tables and chairs and bureaus, it will appear that it is our duty to hand down to our children furniture of similar durability and honest quality. Therefore, money spent for good furniture may be considered as a permanent investment whose returns are comfort and satisfaction in the present, and loving remembrance in the days to come.
So often is the artistic beauty of a house destroyed by a bad selection and arrangement of furniture and choice of inharmonious decorations, that many architects are coming to advise, and even dictate, the style of everything that goes into the house. Thus Colonial furniture is prescribed for a residence in Colonial style, Mission furniture for Mission architecture, etc. There is a corresponding movement among makers of artistic furniture to plan houses suited to their particular styles. Thus "Craftsman" houses and "Craftsman" furniture are designed by the same business interest.
Since, however, the average American home is something of a composite in architectural design, the housekeeper may be permitted to exercise her taste in making selections from the infinite variety of styles of furniture that are offered her by the manufacturers of the country. It is advisable, however, that the furniture in each room be in harmony.
Let us briefly examine the articles of furniture and styles of decoration appropriate for the several rooms.
The hall, now often the smallest, most ill-considered part of the house, was once its chief glory. In the old days in England, and, indeed, in America, the word was used as synonymous with the mansion, as Bracebridge Hall, Haddon Hall, etc. It was the largest apartment, the center of family and social life. Here the inmates and their guests feasted and danced and sang. Gradually it was divided off into rooms for specific purposes, until now in general practice it has narrowed down to a mere vestibule or entrance to the other rooms, with only those articles of furniture in it which are useful to the one coming in or going out of the house, combination stands with mirror, pins for hanging up hats and overcoats, umbrella holder, a chair or so, or a settee for the guest awaiting reception, etc. Often the chair or settee is of the most uncomfortable design, conspiring with the narrow quarters to make the visitor's impression of the house and its inmates a very disagreeable one. If space is lacking to make the hall a comfortable and pleasing room, it should be abolished, and the visitor, if a social one, taken at once to the parlor, and if a business one, to the living-room.
Where, however, size permits it, the hall should be made the most attractive part of the house. Here is the proper place for a "Grandfather's Clock," a rug or so of artistic design, and a jardiniere holding growing plants or flowers. The wallpaper should be simple and dignified in design, but of cheerful tone. Some shade of red is always appropriate. Remember in choosing decorations that the colors of the spectrum—violet, indigo, blue, green, yellow, orange, red—run the gamut of emotive influence from depression to exhilaration. Violet and indigo lower the spirits, blue and green hold them in peaceful equilibrium, yellow begins to cheer them, and orange and red excite them.
However, the color scheme of a hall is largely dependent upon the wood-finish, because of the amount of this shown in the stairs.
Dark red is a very suitable color for the stair-carpet. The best way to fasten this is by a recent invisible contrivance which goes underneath the material. Brass rods are ornamental, rather too much so, and carpet tacks are provoking, both in putting down and taking up the carpet.
Where the hall and stairway are wide and room-like, pictures should be hung on the walls, interesting in subject and cheerful in decorative tone. The presence of the stairway, especially if this is broken by a landing, permits quite a variety of arrangement. The line of ascent should be followed only approximately. Remember that it is a fundamental law of art always to suggest a set idea, but never to follow it; to have a rule in mind, and then play about it rather than strictly pursue it. Art is free and frolicking. It gambols along the straight path of utility, following the scent of airy suggestion into outlying fields and by-paths, but always keeping the general direction of the path.