Or, again, she might be a spinster, choosing between a boarding-house, a couple of rooms, or a cheap apartment. She might, as the wife of an artist, have to live in a studio-building, or if she had lost her money, she might have to content herself with one room only. Had she to come down in the world, be reduced to the necessity of pondering the question of ways and means in the preservation of her dignity and refinement, she would have to approach the subject from still another standpoint, but she would not be so likely to make mistakes in judgment as other people who are trying to widen out; for she would have all her past experience to call upon, her knowledge of propriety and proportion to guide her. She would know the essentials of refined living, and what unessentials to avoid. She would, for instance, know how to pick her way judiciously among cheap articles of furniture, how to choose one tea-cup because its lines were good, even though it cost a sixpence only, how to discard one that cost a little more, because it was pretentious and ugly. She would know, indeed, what good thing the cheap thing tried to imitate. For that reason she would never buy a fragile gilt chair, but she would sacrifice much in order to purchase a good sideboard and table. In this way she would prove, though unconsciously, that she understood what constituted correct principles in the decoration of the home. An undeniable stamp of refinement would at the same time be given to her environment.

Were she, however, in furnishing a single room, to introduce appointments suitable only to elaborate houses, - furniture covered with satins, brocades, and costly stuffs, or worse still, with imitations of them, - what could be said of her? The very fact of her being able to possess but a single room would imply a modest station in life, well-born and highbred as she might be. But how could she prove her heritage unless she proved that whatever its proud character she could yet adapt herself with dignity to the limitations of an altered and a cramped position? She could lend her single room a certain distinction by keeping it simple and by keeping it clean, and "cleanliness," as some distinguished critic has said, " is a decoration in itself." She could, too, make the one room hospitable even if there were but one chair in it to offer. It would depend upon herself, not upon her possessions. In the placing of that solitary chair, as in the choice of it, she could prove her knowledge of refinement, - imitation brocades and gilt chairs could never prove it.

Pie crast Table

Pie-crast Table.

Inappropriate as the mere elegance of upholstered satins would be in a single room, it must never be forgotten that the presence of a beautiful work of art would lift it at once off the plane of the merely commonplace and essential. A beautiful work of art is never inappropriate anywhere, unless its size prove too overpowering, as in the case of a marble statue in a small room. Having such in her possession, a bit of carving, a painting, a bronze, or even a piece of silver or crystal, were a woman forced to live in a hovel, a certain dignity would be lent to her surroundings. And for this reason, it has often seemed wrong to me for the well-to-do to object to the giving of beautiful things to those of limited means, because the beautiful things were unsuitable, or because only the physical necessities of the genteel poor ought to be considered. Furbelows are inappropriate in poverty, but beautiful objects never, if their owners love them. Household gifts ought not to be chosen with reference to the pecuniary limitations of the recipients, but with reference to a power in the gift to lift and gladden, bringing the suggestion of better things into the lives of those unable to provide such things for themselves. A foolish satin sofa cushion will not do this, nor an elaborate combination of marble and gilt, but a beautiful picture will, or a piece of bronze, a carved chair or table, even if those who receive them must live out their days in a single room.

Pic crust Table

Pic-crust Table.

Individual Requirements 5Individual Requirements 6

Suppose, once more, a change of condition compelling a woman to a new study of requirements. She had lived a life of social obligations in town, and wanted to escape the formalities and the management of servants, to indulge a holiday spirit under the trees. How ill-judged were she to furnish a cabin in the woods or by the sea with the same appointments as those appropriate to a city house! The charm of the camps in the Adirondack and Canada woods, luxurious and costly as some of them are, lies in the fact that although every comfort is provided nothing suggesting care is introduced; nothing that would imply interference with the free enjoyment of the woods or the untrammelled life of those who have gone there for rest and refreshment. A satin hanging in a camp would be inappropriate; ebonies, mahoganies, costly inlaid woods, as much out of key as an elaborate service of silver and glass. On finely appointed yachts, where the whole life is luxurious and where the management of details does not devolve upon the owner, but is made over to competent hands, a question of possessions implying too much care does not enter in. Life on board a yacht, too, is more isolated, more compact, if I may use the word, than life in a camp, where everything is open, even to the squirrels and the birds. Comfort can then be indulged with propriety and without the sacrifice of any sense of freedom in a camp, a solitary cabin in the woods, or on a yacht; but the choice of materials for providing that comfort or for introducing the beautiful must vary with each environment. So must the choice of materials used in decoration. A woman I know, who understands this question thoroughly, will never, for instance, permit geraniums in the boxes on the porches of an Adirondack camp, nor the boxes themselves to be made of porcelain, tiles, or any other imported material. The fruits and vegetables consumed on her table come from a distance, since they help to nourish the physical man. Her table decorations, however, are of ferns, not garden flowers.

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