Wisdom Wednesday - Household work, Victorian-style - part 1

(From my gran's 1894 publication of 'Mrs Beeton's Cookery Book and Household Guide' - see this post for more information.)

Here's some sound advice given by Mrs Beeton to the mistress of the household! Next week, we shall see what she has to say to the servants...

Household Work
Illustration from the book.

WHETHER cottage or mansion, whether there are many servants or only one or two, in the way household duties are performed there need be but little difference.

Cleanliness, neatness and regularity should be the ruling qualities of the good housekeeper and her subordinates, and there can be as much comfort and order in homes where labour is scarce as in those where there is a full staff of servants.

A great deal, of course, hinges upon the management ; and if this is good there is always time for everything.
In our chapter, "The Housekeeper," we have spoken of the help that can be given by her to the servants, also we have lightly touched upon her duties, which must vary in every home ; yet, before giving a little advice to servants, we may be allowed to say a few words to those who do not actually do the work themselves.

Let us take anything in hand for the first time and do it thoroughly, and in nine cases out of ten it occupies more time than we thought it would.

Servants are no quicker than we are, and we should know for ourselves exactly how long it takes to do every household task, so that we need not allow laziness, or expect too much from those we employ.

Knowing then the time it takes to scrub a floor, sweep a room, &c., let the mistress reckon up the weekly work of the house and divide it as well as she can, so that all can be got through without hurry or fuss. Should it be found in this reckoning of time against labour that they will not balance, and there is more than her help or helpers can accomplish unaided, let her assign to herself certain duties, and carefully and regularly perform them, thus setting a good example. In every day's work, allow a margin of time for delay caused by interruptions or accidents, and remember that servants need, and should have, a little time to call their own.

[Why Wisdom Wednesday? This phrase has been included in the title in order to take part in Daily Blogging Prompts at Geneabloggers]

Category: Mrs Beeton's Cookery Books

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