From Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management. In 1851 Isabella Mary Mayson was sent to boarding school in Heidelberg, where she learned to speak German and French. Five years later she married Samuel Beeton, a publisher who acquired the British rights to Uncle Tom’s Cabin and then launched The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine, at which she worked as an “editress” and for which she wrote articles that grew into this book.
As with the commander of an army or the leader of any enterprise, so is it with the mistress of a house. Her spirit will be seen through the whole establishment, and just in proportion as she performs her duties intelligently and thoroughly, so will her domestics follow in her path. Of all those acquirements, which more particularly belong to the feminine character, there are none which take a higher rank, in our estimation, than such as enter into a knowledge of household duties, for on these are perpetually dependent the happiness, comfort, and well-being of a family.
Early rising is one of the most essential qualities which enter into good household management, as it is not only the parent of health, but of innumerable other advantages. Indeed, when a mistress is an early riser, it is almost certain that her house will be orderly and well managed. On the contrary, if she remains in bed till a late hour, then the domestics, who invariably partake somewhat of their mistress’ character, will surely become sluggards.
Cleanliness is also indispensable and must be studied both in regard to the person and the house and all that it contains. Cold or tepid baths should be employed every morning, unless, on account of illness or other circumstances, they should be deemed objectionable.
The choice of acquaintances is very important to the happiness of a mistress and her family. A gossiping acquaintance, who indulges in the scandal and ridicule of her neighbors, should be avoided as a pestilence. If the duties of a family do not sufficiently occupy the time of a mistress, society should be formed of such a kind as will tend to the mutual interchange of general and interesting information.
Good temper should be cultivated by every mistress, as upon it the welfare of the household may be said to turn; indeed, its influence can hardly be overestimated, as it has the effect of molding the characters of those around her and of acting most beneficially on the happiness of the domestic circle. Every head of a household should strive to be cheerful and should never fail to show a deep interest in all that appertains to the well-being of those who claim the protection of her roof.