Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Old Fashion Parlor

What I find kind of fun about this topic is that the source is from 1881.

A great deal has been said and written against the oldfashioned parlor. Indeed, people generally have come to look upon it as a failure, and to speak slightingly of the taste which rendered it possible. "Whatever may have been its defects, there is a question in the minds of some people whether the modern parlor is a great improvement upon the ancient one, and, in fact, whether there is sufficient reason for its existence.

It is true that this modern room is not kept hermetically sealed, as is alleged of the older one. There are more feast days upon which it is opened, and children are allowed to sit upon its handsome chairs, and look out into the street through its lace curtains. The furniture is arranged more artistically, still it is not a room to be happy in, and it too often absorbs into itself the best there is in the house, not only in the way of the best furniture, the easiest chairs, but also of pictures and books, leaving the living room of the family bare as a desert so far as anything refining and educating is concerned.

That this is not best a little thought will show; we who are so wonderfully made and so mysteriously influenced gain miich by having about us every-day surroundings which are elevating and suggestive. So if there is only one picture in the house which is worth looking at or studying, let it hang where it will most frequently attract the attention of the family. To the thoughtful man who wishes well to his kind, it is saddening to see people spending their money for that which is not bread.

People who think they can not afford to buy so much as a photograph or heliotype of a good picture must have their parlor "set" and cheap lace in imitation of those who can well afford to have the real thing. They illustrate the woful facility we have in copying the failings of our neighbors instead of their virtues.

This is not a plea for the utter extinction of the parlor: a tasteful reception-room, which may always be in order for guests and for any strangers whom you may not wish to introduce into your family life, is a great convenience, and in many houses almost a necessity; but, if two pleasant, inviting rooms can not be afforded, it would be vastly better to invariably make the one cheerful, comfortablyfurnished room, with the books and the good pictures, the room for the family to meet in and enjoy. The money, or a part of it, saved by not indulging in a parlor, might be spent to good advantage in buying books and objects of interest and instruction.
It is interesting to notice the value placed upon books, by many who profess loudly to wish for them, by their always putting them after everything else. Such persons would hardly appreciate Charles Lamb's going about in his threadbare, plum-colored coat that he might buy a favorite folio. Nor would they be found wondering how much Oliver Wendell Holmes owes to the fact that he "staggered against books as a baby."

Who that has ever attempted to trace back any of his own impressions to their source has not been surprised to find that deep and lasting ones have been made by something in itself very slight?

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