THE EASIEST WAY.
The house: Situation and arrangement.
From the beginning it must be understood that what is written here applies chiefly to country homes. The general principles laid down are applicable with equal force to town or city life; but as a people we dwell mostly in the country, and, even in villages or small towns, each house is likely to have its own portion of land about it, and to look toward all points of the compass, instead of being limited to two, as in city blocks. Of the comparative advantages or disadvantages of city or country life, there is no need to speak here. Our business is simply to give such details as may apply to both, but chiefly to the owners of moderate incomes, or salaried people, whose expenditure must always be somewhat limited. With the exterior of such homes, women at present have very little to do; and the interior also is thus far much in the hands of architects, who decide for general prettiness of effect, rather than for the most convenient arrangement of space. The young bride, planning a home, is resolved upon a bay-window, as large a parlor as possible, and an effective spare-room; but, having in most cases no personal knowledge of work, does not consider whether kitchen and dining-room are conveniently planned, or not, and whether the arrangement of pantries and closets is such that both rooms must be crossed a hundred times a day, when a little foresight might have reduced the number certainly by one-half, perhaps more.
Inconvenience can, in most cases, be remedied; but unhealthfulness or unwholesomeness of location, very seldom: and therefore, in the beginning, I write that ignorance is small excuse for error, and that every one able to read at all, or use common-sense about any detail of life, is able to form a judgment of what is healthful or unhealthful. If no books are at hand, consult the best physician near, and have his verdict as to the character of the spot in which more or less of your life in this world will be spent, and which has the power to affect not only your mental and bodily health, but that of your children. Because your fathers and mothers have been neglectful of these considerations, is no reason why you should continue in ignorance; and the first duty in making a home is to consider earnestly and intelligently certain points.
Four essentials are to be thought of in the choice of any home; and their neglect, and the ignorance which is the foundation of this neglect, are the secret of not only the chronic ill-health supposed to be a necessity of the American organization, but of many of the epidemics and mysterious diseases classed under the head of “visitations of Providence.”