The American Pictorial Home Book
or Housekeeper's Encyclopedia - online book

A reference manual of household management in Victorian times.

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HINTS FOR WIVES.                                   33
and linked all his hopes of future happiness with yours! If you manage these matters without appearing to study them, so much the better. Some husbands are impatient of the routine of the toilet, and not unreasonably so. They possess activity and energetic spirits which are sorely disturbed by the waste of time. Some wives have discovered an admirable facility in dealing with this difficulty; and it is a secret which, having been discovered by some, may be known to all, and it is well worth the finding out.
It is astonishing how much the cheerfulness of a wife contributes to the happiness of home. She is the sun, the center of a domestic system, and her children are like planets around her, reflecting her rays. How merry the little ones look when the mother is joyous and good tempered, and how easily and pleasantly her household labors are overcome! Her cheerfulness is reflected everywhere. It is seen in tj}e neatness of her toilet, in the order of her table, and even in the seasoning of the dishes. We remember hearing a husband say that he could always gauge the temper of his wife by the quality of her soups and the lightness and delicacy of her pastry. When ill-temper pervades, the pepper is dashed in a cloud, perchance the pepper box is included as a kind of diminutive thunderbolt. The salt is all in heaps, and the spices seem to betake themselves to one spot in a pudding, as if dreading the frowning face above them. If there be a husband who could abuse the smiles of a really good-tempered wife, we should like to look at him ! No, no; such a phenomenon does not exist (?). Among the elements of domestic happiness the amiability of the wife and mother is of the utmost importance; it is one of the best securities for the happiness of home*
THE MISTRESS.
A house-keeping account book should invariably be kept, and kept punctually and precisely—to write or make an entry of the amount spent each day, let it be ever so small, arranged under their specific heads, of butcher, baker, grocer, sundries, etc.; and thus it will be seen how much was paid for each article, and one month's expenses can be compared with another, and thus you can judge how much you can afford to spend by comparing it with what you have in hand. Truer words were never written than " No man is rich whose expenditures exceed his means, and no man is poor whose incomings exceed his outgoings/' If the establishment be large, it is advisable for the mistress to examine her accounts regularly even if a house-keeper is kept; then any increase of expenditure may be ex­plained which may be apparent, and the house-keeper have the sat-