This may seem a digression; and yet, in the very outset, it is necessary to place this work upon the right footing, and to impress with all possible earnestness the fact, that Household Science holds every other science in tribute, and that only that home which starts with this admission and builds upon the best foundation the best that thought can furnish, has any right to the name of “home.” The swarms of drunkards, of idiots, of insane, of deaf and dumb, owe their existence to an ignorance of the laws of right living, which is simply criminal, and for which we must be judged; and no word can be too earnest, which opens the young girl’s eyes to the fact that in her hands lie not alone her own or her husband’s future, but the future of the nation. It is hard to see beyond one’s own circle; but if light is sought for, and there is steady resolve and patient effort to do the best for one’s individual self, and those nearest one, it will be found that the shadow passes, and that progress is an appreciable thing.
Begin in your own home. Study to make it not only beautiful, but perfectly appointed. If your own hands must do the work, learn every method of economizing time and strength. If you have servants, whether one or more, let the same laws rule. It is not easy, I admit; no good thing is: but there is infinite reward for every effort. Let no failure discourage, but let each one be only a fresh round in the ladder all must climb who would do worthy work; and be sure that the end will reward all pain, all self-sacrifice, and make you truly the mistresses of the home for which every woman naturally and rightfully hopes, but which is never truly hers till every shade of detail in its administration has been mastered.
The house, then, is the first element of home to be considered and studied; and we have settled certain points as to location and arrangement. This is no hand-book of plans for houses, that ground being thoroughly covered in various books,—the titles of two or three of which are given in a list of reference-books at the end. But, whether you build or buy, see to it that your kitchens and working-rooms are well lighted, well aired, and of good size, and that in the arrangement of the kitchen especially, the utmost convenience becomes the chief end. Let sink, pantries, stove or range, and working-space for all operations in cooking, be close at hand. The difference between a pantry at the opposite end of the room, and one opening close to the sink, for instance, may seem a small matter; but when it comes to walking across the room with every dish that is washed, the steps soon count up as miles, and in making even a loaf of bread, the time and strength expended in gathering materials together would go far toward the thorough kneading, which, when added to the previous exertion, makes the whole operation, which might have been only a pleasure, a burden and an annoyance.