Readings for Rural Life

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

Nov 5th, 1864 – Appears to be a relative of mine. (Wordens, Lincolns and Stids of South Bristol, Bristol and Canandaigua.)


The practice of Economy is a virtue, and would seem a necessity now, when the prices are so high and destitution so common. Fathers should teach it  to their sons, and mothers to their daughters. By economy we don’t mean stinginess; but careful, prudent management in the house, on the farm, and throughout all arrangements of both.

We may be a guest or boarder in the family of Mrs. S. Almost invariably her table is well set and all the food palatable. As we so often gather around this well-spread board, we compare it to that of our friend, Mrs. L., whose table, to be sure, is bountifully loaded; but we seldom relish a meal she cooks. There is a towering pile of bread on the plate, a pound or two of butter in the dish, cheese, pickles, cakes &c., in proportion; the platter is loader with meat; but with all this bountifulness nothing is just right – and why is it? Well we can tell you. Mrs. S. is a very careful to cook, if possibly just what will be eaten. She don’t cut a loaf of bread for two or three. She don’t put two or three pounds of butter on at one time, neither cheese nor pickles in such a proportion. When you leave the table you will find but a few fragments left, and so the next meal will be fresh and wholesome.

Look at Mrs. L.’s table. There is meat enough left for two or three meals, a large plate of butter unfit for the table again, bread, cheese, pickles, &c., not half consumed. Mrs. L. don’t intend to be wasteful, so all these eatables are set away in the pantry, (perhaps uncovered) and repeatedly put on the table until hardly fit for swill.

Our experience in housekeeping has taught us the value of economy, in this particular, to be very great. During the past season we employed a domestic at three dollars a week. She was a careless, wasteful girl; having lived in large families, she had not judgement to cook for a few. She would waste more in cooking one week than a tolerable sized family would consume, unless closely watched.

Some ladies have a faculty of repairing their old dresses and making them look like new, and are called very extravagant, while others have three times as many clothes and never looked neat or well dressed. I tell you it is economy here, as well as in the first case. Repair your old clothes, – they may often be turned, dyed or the trimming changed, and you charged with extravagance; but no matter, while it consists in using what others would throw aside. The whole domestic arrangement must come under a system of economy to make it complete. We should know just how far a pound of tea or sugar goes if we do justice to our providers. How much anxiety it would save the fathers and husbands, if their wives and daughters thought how much it cost to live, and remembered those who were toiling so hard to provide for their wants. But there are two sides here. The wives and daughters cannot do all towards making things come out right at the end of the year. If the farmer lets the golden days pass without improving them, and don’t plow until the grain should be up, leaves the potatoes in the field until they are frozen, the corn unhusked until it sours and molds, things will run behind at an astonishing rate.

Some farmers think it all folly to hire a day’s work. We know of those who have nearly two hundred acres of land, and, with the help of two small lads, “carry on the farm,” and raise about the same amount they could off of fifty acres well tilled. Is this economy? Besides it keeps the children constantly toiling. We believe in having children work; but they need pastime, they need recreation and education, and if kept constantly at work they have neither Their forms will be bent, and their spirits broken, before thirty years old. It this economy?

It is economy too, to make your homes beautiful. The ladies must have their silks and jewels, the gentlemen their tobacco and cigars; but they have no money with which to get shrubs, trees and flowers. They must have their Brussels carpets and sofa furniture; but can not have a melodeon or piano. If we can have but one, give us the cottage with its trees, shrubs and flowers, its music and sunshine, its wealth of love, its foretaste of heaven, instead of the dome-like edifice, with its elegant carpets, its velvet-covered furniture, its solemn, still, monotonous air; without flowers and music, or the light affection to gladden the heart, or brighten the long weary journey of life. Yes, it’s economy to make our home beautiful.

Mrs. Mattie D. Lincoln. Canandaigua, N.Y. 1864


Published in: on November 5, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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