From Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine
May 1863

Courtesy At Home -

Almost any one can be courteous in a neighbor's house.  If anything goes wrong, or is out of time, or is disagreeable there, it is made the best of, not the worst; even efforts are made to excuse it, and to show it is not felt; it is attributed to accident, not to design; and this is not only easy but natural in the house of a friend.  I will not, therefore, believe that what is so natural in the house of another, is impossible at home, but maintain, without fear, that all courtesies of social life may be upheld in domestic society.  A husband as willing to be pleased at home as he is anxious to be pleased in a neighbor's house, and a wife as intent on making things comfortable every day, to her family, as on set days to her guests, could not fail to make home happy.

From Arthur's Home Magazine
October 1865

A Plea For The Soldier

This period in our history may well be called a "carnival of crime."  Accounts of robberies, assaults, and even murders, are becoming frightfully common in our newspapers of late.  The disbanding of the army has thrown loose upon the community all that large class of thieves and desperadoes that has followed upon its path, and who by bounty jumping, stealing and gambling, have supported themselves for the past four years.  It is they who are the perpetrators of the crimes now of constant occurance.  We wish to call especial attention to this fact at this time, because there has been an evident disposition upon the part of some through maliciousness, and of others from thoughtlessness or ignorance of facts, to lay the blame upon the returned soldiers of our land.  We do not think this treatment is honorable or just.  We think that it can be proven that very feew, comparatively, of the recent crimes have been committed by the brave men who have been fighting our battles in the ranks for the past four years, while the instances in which they, themselves have been cruelly victimized are almost without number.

Another reason why we wish to draw attention to this subject is, because we are assured by an officer now remaining in the service, that his spirit and tendency is having a very evil influence upon the returning veterans.  They have founght nobly, and are deserving of cordial reception at our hands.  It is our, now, to defend and honor them, not to receive them with suspicion, and heap reproach upon their fair fame.  There may be, undoubtedly are, some men who are sadly demoralized by connection with the army, but that this is true of the soldiers as a class we are not yet willing to believe.  Within our own experience such cases are comparatively rare, while the greater number of them upon their return home have quietly settled down into peaceful avocations, and are sober, industrious, reliable citizens as before.

From Arthur's Home Magazine
February 1865


The use of slang phrases among people of education and social standing seems to be on the increase.  We hear them in the drawing-room, from the lips of cultivated men and women, almost as frequently as on the street ; but never without an involuntary loss of respect for the persons who use them.  A sensible and discriminating writer, referring to this subject, says, "Ladies frequently use slang phrases, with a slight pause or smile to serve as marks of quotation, or rather as an apology.  But to modify a fault is not to remove it.  Resolve that you will never use an incorrect, an inelegant, or vulgar phrase or word, in any society whatever.  If you are gifted with wit, you will soon find that it is easy to give it far better point and force in plain English, than through any other medium, and that brilliant thoughts make the deepest impression when well worded.  However great it may be, the labor is never lost which earns for you the reputation of one who habitually uses the language of a gentleman, or of a lady."


(From Arthur's Home Magazine - April 1865)

Promptness, order, cleanliness, are a sisterhood of household virtues, which contribute so largely to the comfort and happiness of the home, that their office deserves to be magnified.  The dicomfot and misery of an irregular, disorderly, slatternly household - the general lack of ease and efficiency in all the minor details of domestic life are too suggestive of evil in themselves to make it necessary for my pen or your thought to lnger on it.

But there is an opposite view of this matter, which is prolific of mischief; and yet those who sin in the latter direction are usually the very last people to suspect it - nay, they are apt to entrench themselves in and make the highest virtue of what in reality is a fault of vast proportions.  

I speak now of those nervously pormpt, those inveterately neat, those terribly energetic women, who make housekeeping the "ultima thule" of their lives, and who never seem to reflect that it is the subservient to vastly nobler and higher uses, intellectual and spiritual, but who regard promptness, order, cleanliness, as the very end for which life was created.

Such women have I known - so have you - immaculate, infelxible, with an awfully persistent activity in one direction, that absorbed and exhausted them for all others.  Now nice housekeeping is a good thing and to be desired; but it is not to be worshipped; it is not the supreme end of existance, and where it is made so, the spirit of the home is inevitably hard, and dreary, and barren, vastly worse than an easy going, let-things-take-care-of-themselves style of living, combined with geniality and heartiness of soul.  

And then, after all, what a mean and narrow ideal of life that is that goers no higher than its physical needs - that makes it only a fine animal existence and that does not regard order and cleanliness as only ministrations to higher necessities.

And in the home-atmosphere where neatness is deified you shall always have an uncomfortable, uneasy feeling, a kind of chilling sense of some invisible thrall and repression.  And then it is painful to see the sharpness which comes with years over the features if the mistress of these immaculate homes, and long before that harsh "twng" in the voice that has the creeping chill of the east wind in it to sensitive nerves.

It is a pleasant, a delightful thing to sit at a well-ordered table with snowey napkin and spotless china, to lie down at night betwixt fragrant sheets in a chamber whose every appointment betrays taste and care; but while one fully appreciates all these things, it is painful enough to find the mistress of such a home closed up to everything outside of itself.  All the glory and wonder of art, all the sweetness and joy of poetry, all forms of aesthetic cultivation, all improvements of one's intellectual faculties, buried up and lost in one bustling round of household duties, that leave to the day and the night no sentiment, no time for curture or cultivation of one's best and noblest self.  "These things ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."  And how sad it is to see a woman of this sort growing narrow and contracted as the years gather upon her, all the juices and sympathies of her better nature slowly parched up, and her whole being devoted to one idea, and that neither lofty nor ennobling.  

And it seems to me that, looking back on a life spend wholly in this one service of unnecessary pains-taking and care, one cannot feel altogether self-congratulatory to perceive that she has ministered only to needs that must perish with one's life, that have no existence beyond it, that mind and heart have been sacrificed to ministrations unto which is after all the lowest range of our being.

Yet it is hardly probable that reflections of this sort will often disturb the life that now is, for I know of none more hopelessly entrenched in their own predjudices, more self-opinionated, more absolutely darkened to any other aspect of the case, more persistently certain that their own way means the highest good, than the immaculate, inveterate housekeeper.


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