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Three Bits of Advice from Godey’s Lady’s Book

Godey’s Lady’s Book magazine contained long short stories, plays, recipes, craft patterns, fashion plates, poems, and other items. These three bits of advice for their readers’ families appeared in the June 1866 issue as people were pulling their lives back together after the Civil War.

SOCIABILITY

It is often said of persons, in a complimentary way, that they are sociable, meaning that they are friendly and talkative; but it depends somewhat on the character of a person’s speech, as well as its quantity, whether his acquaintance is desirable or not. Persons may be ever so well meaning, but if their conversation is only of the prevailing sickness, or the last horrible murder in the papers, unless you incline particularly to such kind of entertainment, they will be likely to prove dull companions in the end.

Or if an acquaintance is simply prosy, and talks with as dignified an air as if he fancied himself to be delivering a lecture on some moral subject, without any of the familiar language which makes intercourse with friends so charming, you will be as likely to go to sleep during his discourse as you would in a railway carriage while it is in motion, and wake up when he stopped. Or, if your caller should happen to be one full of his or her own petty cares, who will treat you to a history of all their little vexations, you will soon become tired, or irritable, or both; but no matter, you must hear all their plans for the present and future, whether you will or not. Sometimes, too, from this kind of sociable people, you will hear nothing but bits of flying gossip about people you are not at all interested in.

But when a friend enters about your own stamp, and you cannot speak without calling up a response from his mind; when your ideas and experiences correspond, and you heart grows lighter with the friendly interchange of thought, you are enjoying one of the highest pleasures of social intercourse. Such hours need not be counted among the vanishing pleasures, for the recollection of them is agreeable to both ever after.

KIND-HEARTEDNESS TO CHILDREN

Blessed be the hand that prepares a pleasure for a child, for there is no saying when and where it may again bloom forth. Does not almost everybody remember some kind-hearted man who showed him a kindness in the happy days of his childhood?

The writer of this recollects, when a barefooted lad, he stood at the wooden fence of a little garden in his native village, while with longing eyes he gazed on the flowers which were blooming there in the brightness of a Sunday morning. Their owner came forth from his little cottage. He was a wood-cutter, and spent the whole week at work in the woods. He had come into the garden to gather flowers to place in the button-hole of his coat when he went to church. He saw the boy, and, breaking off the most beautiful of his carnations, he gave it to him.

Neither the giver nor the receiver spoke a word, and with bounding steps the boy ran home. And now here, at a vast distance from that home, after so many years, the feeling of gratitude which agitated the breast of that boy, expresses itself on paper. The carnation has long since withered, but it now blooms afresh.

EAT YOUR BROWN BREAD FIRST

It is a plain, but faithful saying, “Eat your brown bread first;” nor is there a better rule for a young man’s outset in the world. While you continue single you may live within as narrow limits as you please; and it is then you must begin to save in order to be provided for the more enlarged expenses of your future family.

Besides, a plain, frugal life is then supported more cheerfully; it is your own choice, and it is to be justified on the best and most honest principles in the world, and you have nobody’s pride to struggle with, or appetites to master but your own. As you advance in life and success, it will be expected you should give yourself greater indulgence; and you may then be allowed to do it both reasonably and safely.

Source: Godey’s Lady’s Book, June 1866

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