There are husbands and fathers who conscientiously subtract time from their business to spend at home, in reading with their wives and children, and in domestic amusements which at once refresh and improve. The children of such parents will grow up with a love of home and kindred which will be the greatest safeguard against future temptations, as well as the purest source of earthly enjoyment.
There are families, also, who make it a definite object to keep up family attachments after the children are scattered abroad, and in some cases secure the means for doing this by saving money which would otherwise have been spent for superfluities of food or dress. Some families have adopted, for this end, a practice which, if widely imitated, would be productive of much enjoyment. The method is this: On the first day of each month, some member of the family, at each extreme point of dispersion, takes a folio sheet, and fills a part of a page. This is sealed and mailed to the next family, who read it, add another contribution, and then mail it to the next. Thus the family circular, once a month, goes from each extreme to all the members of a widely-dispersed family, and each member becomes a sharer in the joys, sorrows, plans, and pursuits of all the rest. At the same time, frequent family meetings are sought; and the expense thus incurred is cheerfully met by retrenchments in other directions. The sacrifice of some unnecessary physical indulgence will often purchase many social and domestic enjoyments, a thousand times more elevating and delightful than the retrenched luxury.
There is no social duty which the Supreme Lawgiver more strenuously urges than hospitality and kindness to strangers, who are classed with the widow and the fatherless as the special objects of Divine tenderness. There are some reasons why this duty peculiarly demands attention from the American people.
Reverses of fortune, in this land, are so frequent and unexpected, and the habits of the people are so migratory, that there are very many in every part of the country who, having seen all their temporal plans and hopes crushed, are now pining among strangers, bereft of wonted comforts, without friends, and without the sympathy and society so needful to wounded spirits. Such, too frequently, sojourn long ana lonely, with no comforter but Him who "knoweth the heart of a stranger."
Whenever, therefore, new-comers enter a community, inquiry should immediately be made as to whether they have friends or associates, to render sympathy and kind attentions; and, when there is any need for it, the ministries of kind neighborliness should immediately be offered. And it should be remembered that the first days of a stranger's sojourn are the most dreary, and that civility and kindness are doubled in value by being offered at an early period.
In social gatherings the claims of the stranger are too apt to be forgotten; especially in cases where there are no peculiar attractions of personal appearance, or talents, or high standing. Such an one should be treated with attention, because he is a stranger; and when communities learn to act more from principle, and less from selfish impulse, on this subject, the sacred claims of the stranger will be less frequently forgotten.
The most agreeable hospitality to visitors who become immates of a family, is that which puts them entirely at ease. This can never be the case where the guest perceives that the order of family arrangement is essentially altered, and that time, comfort, and convenience are sacrificed for his accommodation.
Offering the best to visitors, showing a polite regard to every wish expressed, and giving precedence to them, in all matters of comfort and convenience, can be easily combined with the easy freedom which makes the stranger feel as if at home; and this is the perfection of hospitable entertainment.