Paying Social Debts 1893

Some Practical Hints to "Homeless" ones incurring them
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Hospitality is one of the chiefest of the virtues, and every head of a household is supposed to understand perfectly what is meant by the word. The truly hospitable woman, whether she be so from nature or from principle, opens her house freely to her friends, entertains them to the best of her ability, and cares not whether she be repaid in kind or not.

But there is a vast homeless element among us, especially in our cities and large towns. They live in hotels and boarding houses, and are always ready to accept invitations. many of these unfortunate people for everybody is unfortunate who has no home, possess limited means, and can make only the simplest return for the favors which they receive. Flowers on occasion, a card at Easter or Christmas, these are all that they can afford and from them these simple recognitions suffice.

On the other hand many of them are well-to-do, if not wealthy. "What would you do," asked such a one of a woman to whom he was distantly related, and who had frequently invited him to her house, "if you, with your hospitable instincts, were living as I am, in a boarding house, and were unable to show in any way your appreciation of these charming attentions."

The lady blushed and replied by some commonplace: but she could not help reflecting that if she were indeed situated as her friend was she would certainly find out some way of returning her obligations.

At any first-class hotel a beautiful luncheon or dinner party may be given from $2 to $3 a plate upward. A box may be taken for a musicale or any other entertainment of a high order, and refreshments at a good restaurant may be served wither before or after it. Sailing parties, picnics, dozens of ways may be found or returning obligations, if one really desires to do so.

There are plenty of women, as well as "homeless" men, who seem never to feel any burden of reciprocity for hospitalities received. To these almost the same means are open as to their brothers. Society allows a woman to rent a parlor at a hotel for an afternoon reception, if her home is in the suburbs where her friends cannot well come for a brief call, or if its limitations in the city are handicapping. But in these days, when the tea urn is recognized as the altar of hospitality and when this simple shrine may be set up in an apartment of the tiniest dimensions, there is no excuse for any woman not to be "at home."

Emerson says some where something like this:

"It is doubtful if it is possible for a gift to be taken or given without intention of adequate return and the integrity of giver and receiver remain unimpaired."


Website: The History
Article Name: Paying Social Debts 1893
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


 The New York Times January 22, 1893 p. 12 (1 page)
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