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Margaret Elizabeth Munson Sangster.

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THE



LITTLE KINGDOM OF HOME ^



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A




THE

LITTLE KINGDOM
OF HOME



BY



MARGARET E. SANGSTER




NEW YORK
J. F. TAYLOR & COMPANY



J




1 '^.^/IQRd




FOREWORD



This book Is not for the reference library. It
is by no means encyclopaedic, and it has not been
written with the view of imparting information.
As I have thought of the little kingdom of home,
and its ethical bearings, its relation to other
homes, to society and the nation, I have had a
vision and a dream of its significance and its
possibilities. Woman's province, she cannot reign
in it alone. Man and woman must unite in the
true home. Every home, however unobtrusive,
has its motive, its inspiration, and its inevitable
effect on contiguous homes. No later institution
has supplanted the family. From it all other
human organizations take their rise, as flow(
from seed, as stream from source. On the intei
rity of the family, and the conservatism of
home, depend the stability of our republic. Tj
flag we love waves to-day in the Far East. S(
of our homes have carried it thither. Our wealtl
grows greater every year. SoagJ^k^air homesj
carry our commerce around the^lSuKSEafen

[v!i]





.new countries, manage our mines, build our rail-
roads. Our sons are the nation's hope. Our
daughters are as corner-stones, polished after the
similitude of palaces. Education is giving us a
race of splendid women, fit to be the mothers of
splendid men. But education is worthless, except
as it sliall fit both men and women for the quiet
life in the home, as well as for the life lived in
the open, and before the world.

My wish is that this little book may everywhere
carry a message of peace and good-will, of uplift,
cheer, and courage to the home-makers of Amer-
ica, whom may God bless. And so I send it forth,
" East or West, home is best." God keep the
little kingdom of home.

Margaret E. Sangster.



[viil]




PAGE

I. Bride and Groom. The wedding. Found-
ing a new home. Facing the future.
Comradeship ...... 15

II. Relations-in-Law. Where misunderstand-
ing may arise. Gentle breeding and its
demands ....... 31

III. Where Shall the Home Be? In board-

ing-house, or in a real home? How to
determine this question and similar ones .

IV. How Shall THE Home Be Furnished? A

plea for comfort and simplicity, and for
the real things that have real uses
V. The Coming OF Children. The coronation
of marriage. When joy-bells ring. The
mother's happy hour ....

VI. The Training of Children. Funda-
mental principles most important. Chil-
dren should be trained in obedience, truth,
and honor. The home stamps them for life
VII. Bricks without Straw. Financial policy
of the home. Tlie wife's right to share
the income. A common cause of trouble ;
unwise domestic financiering
VIII. The Earnings of Married Women. Pres-
ent condition of the labor market. Desire
of women to earn



49



53



77






IX



X.



XI.



reasons against it as hampering the home-
maker .......

High Lights of Happiness. Mutual confi-
dence. Entire sympathy. A common aim.
Going on together. Never a quarrel that
is not at once made up ... .

The Young People. Their rights and
privileges. The good times they have.
Sons and daughters .....

Red-Letter Days. Happy anniversaries.
Mile-stones vphere we thank God and take
courage. Merry Ckristmas, Happy New

Tear

The Sinister Influence of Worry. Evil

effects of overanxiety. Futility of worry.

Away with foolish melancholy .

The H»use of Feasting. Home hospi-

ty. Guests and what they bring us.

Iferent sorts of entertainment

House of Mourning. The dark angel

'the door. Sorrow. Lonely days. Fu-

arrangements. Grief's meaning and

SpnfH _ f • * ■ • • • •

Quej^ncIf One's Own Kitchen. Just

hopaely housework. Tlie independence of

knowing how to do it. The comfort of

it by one's self ....

ih AND IfoiLERS. About the

cess. Wrong concep-

^lem not yet solved.




141



157



173



189



205



221



237




Need of concession

common sense ......

XVII. The Nobility of Service. Have we no
occasion to reconstruct our ideas ? Are we
right in regarding service as degrading ?
XVIII. Home and Charity. The relation be-
tween home and outside beneficence
XIX. Home and the Flag. Some present-day
problems, and the relation of the home
to patriotism ......

XX. The Ideal Home for a Child. Essen-
tials and non-essentials. The nest. The
brooding of the mother's wing
XXI. Early Religious Teaching. When
should it begin? "What should we teach?
Our children God's children .
XXII. The Library. The place of books in the
home. Their purchase and housing.
The good they do. Their permanent
value. ....... 337

XXIII. Two Friends of the Family. Physician

and nurse. Their intimate and special
connection with the home

XXIV. The Fine Armor of Courtesy. Polite-

ness as a defense against ill-temper and
an armor of proof in social intercourse .
XXV. A Little Music Now and Then. Home
minstrelsy. Something to betjiadd for the
amateur .
XXVI. Second Marriage. Not tinged witli ear^

xi



2G7



27 !»



295



309



323





XXVII.



XXVIII.



439



XXIX.



XXX.




liest romance but often successful.
Hearts may have a second spring. The
stepmother ...... 401

The Place of the Spinster. Her
niche one that she fills acceptably. No
reproach upon single women. Her
value in the home and in society . 423

Prodigal Sons. The child who goes
astray. The temptations that most
easily assail the weak. What should
be the family attitude toward the
erring one ......

Of Broken Homes. Divorce and its
menace to the stability and security of
the republic. Its calamitous effect on
children. Urgent reasons against its
toleration and frequency . . .451

The Old Folk at Home. Grand-
mother's home the children's earthly
Paradise. Spending vacations in the
home. Propriety of old folk retain-
ing their home intact. How to treat
the old. Home and Heaven . . 463

L'Envoi 481



xit




Tie ^^^

Little Kingdom of Home



CHAPTER I.
Bride and Groom

IT is a familiar pageant, that fair procession
which passes between pews thronged with
sympathizing and adoring friends, up the
aisle to the chancel rail, down the aisle again to
the wide world beyond the church doors. The
solemn sweetness of the wedding march, the
reverential cadences of the minister's voice, the
terse brevity of the marriage ceremony, the beauty
of the bride, the pride of the groom, the pleasurer^
and the splendor of it all, its innocent pomps ar
vanities, the gaiety of the occasion, several
contribute to form one of the most impress!
spectacles of society. Wherever the wedding
take place, with simple or elaborate ritual, wi
accessories of costly display, orjwjth absolute
limit of expense to actual necesj

[15]




The Little Kingdom of Home



.own home where she has grown to womanhood,
at the minister's house with a witness or two, in
the grand cathedral, or in the village chapel, the
two contracting parties are the centre of obser-
vation. If the gazer's admiration is focussed
on the maiden in her white garments and her
shadowing veil, and if the whisper of interest
be rather for her than for him who receives her
as the prize for which he has longed and waited,
that is as it should be. The wedding-day is the
day of girlhood's coronation. The bride leaves
behind her the morning land of school and play,
the period of tutelage, the shelter of parental
care, and enters, of her own accord, in love's
sweetest surrender, into a bondage which, being
love's, is by a strange paradox a dignified and
noble emancipation. No longer under authority,
she slips her hand in complete equality into the
of her husband, and they two, no longer

but one, in the independence which is born

ipendence, mutual and serviceable, begin a

life.

le groom is not overlooked, though, on the

lis role is that of courtier nearest

>men observe him critically, won-

[i6]





dering, hoping, prophesying what sort of husband/j
he will be. Men, married and single alike, give
him their congratulations, silent or worded; he
seems to them a lucky fellow to have won so
charming a mate. A groom at once modest,
manly, and happy, showing in countenance and
manner that he is glad and grateful, boastful-
ness of the victor toned with an underlying
feeling of responsibility, a groom whose air is
at once deferential and protecting, appeals to
the friendly group in church and at the recep-
tion. He carries their best wishes with him.
I never attend a wedding without a new real-
ization of its deep meaning, its immense possi-
bilities for good or ill. I do not wonder that
fathers and mothers, on both sides, have usually
a little struggle to be cheerful, when their
children so bravely set forth on the road, th
trodden by comrades, will seem short thoirg-
it lead from youth to gray hairs; that, trodden
by the uncongenial, will be but a tedious prispp,;
march with dragging ball and chain. The bri
mother is living over again her far-off day//6f
bliss, and she knows, though she may havo6Rad
a well-nigh unclouded e








'>S



^



'"%■



The Little Kmgdoiu of Home



^«^^Ler will not all at once find the rose of Eden/
im/ nor all at once, nor ever, find life without a shade
or a thorn. A great tenderness floods her soul
as she sits in the pew and hears the words that
give her darling to the watch and ward of an-
other. The mother of the groom, on her part,
is often the victim of apprehension. She knows
her son, she has anticipated his every want, from
the day of kilts and curls to this day that takes
him from her. As the old couplet runs :



Tour son's your son till he marries a wife,

four daughter's your daughter all the days of her life."

the groom fights down a little
f which she is ashamed, as she ad-
he cannot now be first with her son,
ife will hereafter reign beside him,
;Omes a dowager.

oom, fortunately, in the preoc-

d absQjpgtionof their peculiar delight

ssing one an<5t1ifer, are supremely indif-

^nt of the mingjp^ fe^Jings of their families.

-Their felicity as they^ start on the wedding-jour-

ey is untouched l^^^^]:j^nchecked by caution,




v^






^f^r
[i8]




Bride and Groom




unbroken by questioning thought. The weeks^^'
and months of courtship have made them, they'"^'
fancy, fully acquainted with one another, and
the dominant purpose of each is to give the
other joy. Setting out with a capital of health,
confidence, hope, youth, and true love, they
have no dread of the future, and their present
shines in radiance, like nothing they will ever
see again on earth. The torch of such love as
theirs was kindled in heaven.

They are about to begin the most important
and far-reaching work given by God to human-
ity. Theirs it will be to found a family, and to
build a home. Themselves the product of fami-
lies founded before them, heredity, training,
education, environment, and social atmosphere
have made them what they are. The home
they make will partake of much they have^.,;^
learned and felt in their past lives, but it wj
be essentially different, individual, and ne^
Every new family has its own characteristi^l
just as every child w^ho comes into the wortdf
is stamped with its own personality, though ^W;'^ 4?
line and feature it may show a blending, or ^j
repetition of ancestral lineaments:..Si^^iJistinctiv,i



[■9]



fiiytsA



(ti<i



<^^



m



..$x



T/ie Little Kingdom of Home




shapes and mouldings. This year's daisy and
this year's rose are precise reproductions of the
rose and the daisy of a bygone summer; in
tint, in fringe, in petal, in poise, in fragrance, in
grace, the flower of to-day is the flower of yes-
terday, but it is not so with the flowering of
the race. Type remains, but it is not fixed in
a cast-iron similarity. Little changes, little
improvements, or little retrogressions and de-
generacies, differentiate the human type in the
progress of the years, and therefore every home,
however like it may be to the homes that have
preceded it, takes on its own look, and while,
to some extent, it is a development of other
households, it is largely a creation, too.

In order to found a home, what preparation

have the young people made? The man has

saved a little money, the bride has bought her

of linen ; they count their wedding-pres-

— lamps, rugs, pictures, silver, books, the

mental and useful gifts of kindred and

^ nds, — and commence the furnishing of the

'p^se. This is only the husk. Externals are

but the lamp is valueless when

it do not reveal a living flame.

[20]





A cold hearth is never inviting, it is when the
firelight leaps and sparkles that the hearth glows
like a tropical summer. It is man's privilege
to furnish oil for the lamp and wood for the
fire, woman's prerogative to be priestess of the
lamp and the hearth, lighting both, even as her
love makes the home a star that beams upon
the road leading to her door, with friendly and
beckoning rays.

Husband and wife should be, with a view
to reciprocity of devotion and spontaneous sym-
pathy, on the same plane as to age. It is better
that both should be young, sharing the natural
ardor of youth in aims and endeavors, caring
for similar pleasures, and having tastes and
desires in common. There are, no doubt, happy
and successful unions where there is disparity
of age, but these are exceptional, and exceptio
are said to prove the rule, A husband, maff
years his wife's senior, may pet and indulge h
A wife, many years her husband's senior,
mother and brood over him, but there is som
thing pitiful about a union where so plainly,/to
those who have ears to






moaning against the bar of the tide that will soon
snatch one from the other.

A very few years of difference on either side
can matter little. Some people are old, some
young for their years, and birthdays are not,
invariably, high-water marks of wisdom, or low-
water marks of folly. Yet the onlooker's in-
stinct is almost unerringly right, and one can-
not but feel a shock when May weds December,
January throws a chilly arm around the
|oom of June.

^ Setting out on the common road to found

new home, bride and groom should be young

ier/-5^ng enough for the trials of the way

^and conquered, for the makeshifts of

small things to be accepted as part

ly's romance, for the burdens to be

and the inevitable disappoint-

5oftened by fun and laughter.




oes not know when it

ttempts the most dif-

s nothing impossible,

Q^ conquerors of the ages

t day does not favor




marriage at the turning-point of immaturity,
and this is fortunate. In the early days of the
republic, and in days a century ago, when Jane
Austen drew her wonderful pictures of English
girlhood, eighteen was the average age of the
bride, and sixteen often saw her married and
settled. Twenty-five was then regarded as the
barren shore of spinsterhood, thirty was middle-
aged, and forty was antique. The young hus-
band was little older than the wife, but his
tougher sinews and more robust frame, as well
as his open-air life, enabled him to withstand
life's wear and tear and hardship better than did
the fragile constitution of his bride. In the
graveyard of the Plymouth Colony, and in many
a village cemetery where " the rude forefathers
of the hamlet sleep," one sees the pathetic record
of the early death of the poor girl-wife, and
her successors swiftly wedded, to the fourth
fifth partner. It is well for us, and for the c
munity, that they who now found families
beyond the dawn of adolescence, and have re^
entered on the firmer levels of manhood a.h
womanhood. Young, in the , fer^&'^d fresh^
ness of the twenties, past the c

[23]






[^mreens, the man and the woman approximating
each other in age, they have a fair show at the
start.

Since the ideal quahfication for happy mar-
riage is comradeship, bride and groom should
be of similar education and of suitable social
traditions, so that the background of their past
may not unfit them for harmonious union. Oc-
casionally, a silly girl elopes with her father's
coachman, or a foolish youth marries a kitchen-
maid. These marriages are foredoomed to fail-
ure, because they afford no conditions of com-
radeship. The coachman and the kitchen-maid
may be very worthy persons, and it is quite
conceivable that either, or both, in favorable
circumstances, or through native powers and
persevering study, may become well fitted for
\yider station of usefulness. Their present
n lacks no element of respectability, and
€ has a right to look down as from a
^r^ supL-rifjr height on any honest breadwinner.
-^' This is the point, that an illiterate though forceful
nic'in, perfec^W-ri^quipped for the functions of the
^Xt^ol^'^^^^^^^^^0j^o^,.O3id, is not precisely adapted to
the-^iOitkrieCT. which marriage exacts, with a

C^4]






^oung woman of gentle birth and breeding, who
has been elegantly clothed, carefully taught,
and scrupulously drilled in the conventionalities.
Nor is the college-trained son of a great house,
on whom wealth has lavished opportunity from
his cradle, the appropriate husband af a young
woman who does not know Tennyson or Brown-
ing or Shakespeare from the author of the latest
dime novel, who possibly does not even read
a dime novel, who may not know how to write
her name. The unequal marriage may not be
a crime, but it is an unspeakable blunder. T
have never seen a happy marriage where hus-
band and wife were conspicuously set apart from
one another by the gulf that separates ignorance
from culture, and refinement from coarseness.
That King Cophetua does now and then wed
the beggar-maid, and lift her to the throne, ma]
be true, but one seldom finds such an idyl out
side of poetry and fairy-lore. Like should wee
like. Robert Browning was the heaven-meai
comrade of Elizabeth Barrett, Fanny Osborne^
of Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Welch, thouj
ten thousand people tlij^k the cQntrar3^^^^i
Thomas Carlyle. These




in literature and in the obscurity tJiat is nappier"
for being never chronicled, have had the joy
of being comrades, in sickness and in health,
in riches and in poverty, in every variety of
good and of ill-fortune, companions and part-
ners and friends. Bride and groom must be
friends, at the first, and all the way, or they
will not help one another, or make a happy home.
Whether educated in separate schools, or in
)se liberal institutions which open their doors
both sexes, matters very little, the main thing
that two people who must spend their lives
jether, should have a fund of association in
)mmon^-4^ow the same books, have the same
mor^s-Athe same mental discipline, and the
;kTne sprwfgs of motive. Thus armed, the world-
not daunt them. Thus provisioned,
will never be scanty,
life's road, a married pair should
experiment of having
bject is so much bit-
no topic do people
relentlessly clash as
Therefore, if creeds
and woman would





best not marry. Love has been strong enough"
to enable two who worshipped in different fanes,
and expressed their faith in different forms, to
dwell together in peace, but with singularly few
exceptions, the price has been paid in the spirit-
ual decadence or spiritual suicide of one or the
other. Bride and groom would far better yield
in non-essentials and unite in essentials, for the
sake of the tranquil home they hope to have,
or else they would better not pledge a mutual
love and faith. A devout Roman Catholic never
feels sure that a Protestant partner will not be
everlastingly lost. A devout Protestant always
has some lurking suspicion and dormant dislike
of the authority of the church and the priest-
hood. Protestant would far better mate with
Protestant, and Romanist with Romanist. Jew^*^^^
and Gentile may have no hostility; not even ' "**
shred of prejudice may linger to disturb the
perfect and reciprocal amity, but they are
wise in marrying. In beginning a home no sps
or chance should be left for possible discord;"
irritating cause for —

" The little rift within the lute
That by and by will make the

[27]






A sense of humor is most needful in the equip-
ment of the happily married. To quickly per-
ceive the fun of a situation, to ease a difficulty
by a jest, to smile at a mistake, to brighten a
dull hour by a bit of drollery, is to lose much
of the sadness and gain much of the gladness
of life. The literal, plodding, worrying, misan-
thropical nature that has no sense of humor is
a wet blanket in society, and a handicap in the
home. Bride and groom need not anticipate
unruffled smoothness during the first twelve
months. The first year in a novel and absorbing
relationship, in an intimacy far closer than any
other, must be a year of adjustment, to some
extent a year of disillusionment. John will not
prove the perfect being, uniformly chivalrous,
gallant, and knightly that Edith fancied him.
Edith will not always be the angelic creature,
e, even-tempered, serene, fair-minded, that
imagined her. Both will turn out to be
human. But if both be above deceits and
fices, if both be noble and simple and straight-
ard^.bpjh.^^will show themselves lovable, and
ye is the fulfilling of the law.
e may be, — now and then a mis-

[28]





understanding, now and then a transient pang, but
for the newly wedded, if they set the right value
on their great opportunity, there should never
be a quarrel. Avoid the first quarrel, and there
will never be a second. Differences of opinion
may arise, but they may be settled in a calm
temper, without heated argument. If hasty
words are spoken, let the aggressor apologize,
and, whatever else may happen, let no day end
in estrangement. Seek the pillow in peace. The
good-night should be kind, the spirit of concili-
ation hover over the house when the darkness
wraps it and the stars are on guard in the sky.
Years ago, I wrote a bit of verse, which has
been taken since by many a bride as her daily
sermon, and I slip it in here, not for the poetry,
but for the lesson.



If I had known in the morning

How wearily all the day

The words unkind, would trouble my mind,

I said when you went away,

I had been more careful, darling,

Nor given you needless pain ;

But we vex our own with look and tone

We misfht never take ba





For though in the quiet evening

You should give me the kiss of peace,

Yet it well might be that never for me

The pain of the heart should cease.

How many go forth at morning

Who never come home at night,

And hearts have broken, for harsh words spoken

That sorrow can ne'er set right.



We have careful thought for the stranger
And smiles for the sometime guest,
But, oft for our own, the bitter tone,
Though we love our own the best.
Ah, lip with the curve impatient.
Ah, brow with the look of scorn,
'Twere a cruel fate were the night too late
To undo the work of morn.




[30]




[3'1



I'T'HEY love most truly who have loved lon^

est. Misunderstanding is sometimes onl^^

love's seamy side.



[32]




Relations - in - Law



YOUNG people are fortunate if they may
spend the early months of marriage by
themselves. The presence of a third per-
son in the home is not desirable. Relations-in-law
are proverbially difficult to get on with, for the
reason that, however admirable and excellent
their qualities, they are often disposed to be
critical, and sometimes censorious. Only the
most compulsory reasons should prevail in de-
ciding a husband and wife to begin their home
life under the roof of parents, or to have parents
resident with them. In later years, when they
have so grown together as to be one in heai^t\^,-^'|
and soul, when they cannot be hurt by an
sider's point of view, or disturbed by sur
agitations which do not touch the deep t
quillity of perfect mutual comprehension, it is
not an indispensable thing that they be alo^e.
Blessed be grandparents where children a|j^ as
olive plants around the tabl^^ji^^L just. ^f'#t^t,

S]







hen the home is in its formative period, when
the new paths are being broken, when routine
is not estabhshed, when experiments are being
tried, when the wife is still a very inexperienced
housekeeper, and the husband a very inexperi-
enced householder, relations should be visitors
only, and not parts of the family.

Many a slight misunderstanding that a kiss
would have ended, is fanned into a flame by the
dicious comment or unseasonable sympathy
ohn's mother or Edith's. Why either should


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Online LibraryMargaret Elizabeth Munson SangsterThe little kingdom of home → online text (page 1 of 18)