Debutantes did not do dishes.
They were taught piano and guided in the art of flirtation. However, once married, they realized their inadequacies. How, in fact, did one manage a household?
“Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management” became an acclaimed necessity, answering all of their questions.
And her insight holds to this day.
Be Selective In Friendship.
Personal attachments that are rashly formed allow not time for discernment. Only time can establish true character. For it is as Joanna Baillie penned:
“Friendship is no plant of hasty growth,
Though planted in esteem’s deep-fixed soil,
The gradual culture of kind intercourse
Must bring it to perfection.”
Abstain From Speaking Ill Of Your Husband.
Meant to be his most intimate confidant, a wife undermines her own integrity by letting “an account of her husband’s failing pass her lips.” Where is her allegiance? How can a husband trust she’ll come to his defense when she’s his attacker?
Prioritize Household Tasks.
Chores and errands were divided amongst domestic servants.
There were a great many to share the burden of upkeep. Since the modern budget and real estate doesn’t oft’ afford for a house steward, housekeeper, valet, lady’s maid, butler, under butler, head nurse, cook, upper housemaid, upper laundry-maid, under laundry-maid, maid-of-all-work, under housemaid, the still-room maid, nursemaid, scullery-maid gardener, footman, under footman, coachman, groom, page, and stableboy, a modern woman simply must prioritize and delegate when possible.
Practice Good Charity.
‘Tis the spirit more than the amount which makes the giver.
Should income be restricted, opportunities to serve those less fortunate through cookery, education, and kindness present themselves in many ways.
Shop With Sense & Sensibility.
When purchasing, mind Mrs. Beeton’s guidance for apparel:
I. That it be not too expensive for her purse.
II. That its colour harmonize with her complexion, and its size and pattern with her figure.
III. That its tint allow of its being worn with the other garments she possesses.
“Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.” ~ Proverbs 31:25–28 KJV
Live Within Your Means.
Here, in addressing A Housekeeping-Account Book, Judge Haliburton is quoted. His wisdom: “No man is rich whose expenditure exceeds his means, and no one is poor whose incomings exceed his outgoings.”
Therefore, it is in the home-keepers best interest to organize her finances and budget according to means.
Find Joy In The Common Day.
A mistress of the house sets the tone.
Those around her cannot help but to emulate her mood. In pursuing contentment, it is advised she indulge in hobbies of her taste. After all, “a good housewife does not necessarily imply an abandonment of proper pleasures or amusing recreation; and we think it the more necessary to express this, as the performance of the duties of a mistress may, to some minds, perhaps seem to be incompatible with the enjoyment of life.”
✉️ Fascinated by this story? Receive our latest in your inbox. Subscribe to the mailing list!
1. At the time of it’s publication, Isabella was 21 years of age and had only been married a year.
2. Part of the manual was dedicated to the etiquette of dealing with domestic servants and included average salaries as well as lists of the duties of which they were responsible.
This information would not be practical to the middle class home-keeper who could not afford a cook or lady’s maid. Nonetheless, the material was intended for domestic fantasies.
3. Included recipes were plagerized with the exception of Useful Soup for Benevolent Purposes which consisted of ox-cheek, brown sugar, an assortment of vegetables, and spices.