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his own thought and want, but into an undigested mass of rooms and appliances, – windows, doors, gables, piazzas, without meaning and without value and without beauty. It is about a house as it is about a dress. Every thing should mean something, even the ornaments. Nothing is more meaningless than the larger proportion of the dresses one sees. They have no beauty, no substantial value; they do not add to, but subtract from, your idea of the wearer. They encumber without adorning, they conceal where they were meant to enhance, they caricature where they are supposed to ennoble. So it is with a house. If you want merely to show that you can spend money, or have the ambition to attract attention, or be unlike your neighbors, that is one thing; if you want to build a home for yourself and your children, one which you and they shall love, where you wish the household virtues to take root and grow, that is quite another. If your house is to be a mere show place, and your ambition to excite a vulgar approval or envy, you may neglect or banish the useful parts of the house, you may sacrifice utility to appearance ; but if you are going to build a home, the homely, common, ever-wanted things must be close by, compact and convenient, to be used at no waste of tem
per, time, or strength. Utility should be the Alpha and Omega in a home.
I know that some of the most home-ish (to use a word you will not find in the Dictionary) looking places in the country — the farm-houses which have been the true homes and nurseries of New England character — have wanted not only the graces, but the conveniences, of more modern days. The house is large, not wholly occupied or even finished, poorly arranged, and not over tightly built, while the well is in the yard, and in long row stretch out-houses and barns. The architect to-day brings all these into a snugger compass; but the architect of to-day omits one element of the old home which made amends for all this, which the taste, the advance, or the mistake of the present generation compels him to omit. I mean the large, cheerful, generous, old kitchen, the place where many a man and woman of silks and fashion was brought up, — the true “keeping ” or “living room,” redolent of the mother's brown bread and pies, fragrant with quiet domestic virtues, the work-place of mothers and daughters in the days when mothers and daughters worked, - the centre of the family circle when the day was done, and father and the boys gathered around the evening table to read or cipher, or play a game, or mend this or that which had been broken about the farm; when neighbors dropped quietly in and were welcome to the
chimney-corner, and cider and apples closed the visit; when even lovers must sit in the kitchen and with the family, except on Sundays. I do not believe in every thing that is old, but I do believe we have made no gain in surrendering these homely ways and virtues which clustered about that now dishonored place. The kitchen was the home in those golden days ere its sacred economies were handed over to the wasteful mercies of ignorant domestics, and though there were no modern labor-saving appliances, yet because the labor was not bought, but each had his post and duty, the home went on more wisely and happily than now. The kitchen was then the blessing of the house. Now it is too frequently the curse, and the troubles it entails have much to do with this rapid filling up of hotels and lodging-houses by those who rather fly from than seek to remedy the evil. Perhaps, as society is, we cannot reinstall the kitchen. I do not believe the idea would be very palatable to those who associate the place with the stupidity of Irish cooks, or regard the toil as a disgrace to their position, or as injuring the complexion and marring the delicacy of the hand. The kitchen was the sanctum of the home, and homes have gained nothing by deserting it. It was the nursery of the character, of the health, the moral and mental strength of the old and middle-aged of to-day, -of virtues which have seemed to wane with the coming in of carpets and curtains and conveniences, and that utter respectability which would gladly forget that a kitchen has a necessary connection with a house. In a different way, if you would have peace, you must still regard the kitchen. It is now the tyrant of the house, and he who builds his house without a prime regard to that, who plans the rest liberally and leaves that to chance, or, when he finds the cost exceeding his ability, lets the pinch come there, may at once give up the thought of a comfortable home. Let the pinch come in your parlors, your furnishings, —the things for your own luxury or the eye of your visitor; but in a home, the kitchen, the cellar, and the closet must stand before these. No house can be a home which is stinted in the useful things, that is narrow and mean in its arrangements for work, and that is one reason why these things all over our towns with “To let’ hanging in the windows can never become genuine homes. Another thing that should be thought of is seclusion. The home ought not to be open to the casual eye, or the secrets of it liable to the prying or the propinquity of neighbors. It ought to stand apart, neither subject to overlooking or overhearing. Every family should be brought up distinct from every other family. The house should be within an enclosure sacred to it. The blessed sun and air should not be cut off from it by the intervening of any other house. This is the necessity of cities, which the kind of houses demanded by the city in part remedies; bushe cramped homes of the city never come up to the full idea of o A home should have a yard and a garden. I do Hot hesitate to say that, as a matter of dollars and cents, it would be better in the end for the individual speculator to lay out each house with a fair garden spot, place it on some general line, employ an architect as well as a carpenter and mason, spend something on shrubs and trees, – in short, make a home of it, — than to cover all his land with wood and mortar ; while it would add to the character of the town, introduce a higher order of population, increase taxable property, and do for the place what men in vain look to churches, schools, horse-railroads, gas, and water to do. The man of thought and intelligence, who wants a permanent abode for his family, will look to the house before he will these other things. If he cannot find a home, these will be a small temptation. Besides, to the well ordering of a family, privacy is absolutely essential. What chance is there for that, where houses stand so near that, through the open windows, inevitably, you hear much that is said, or through , a thin partition comes the thrumming of a piano, the scolding of a mother, the crying of the child, the entrance and exit of every guest? This sort of living