Hospitality does not consist in inveigling your friends into your house and then making them beg for ordinary comforts. Do not, for instance, ask your guests if they would like hot water brought to their rooms, or if they object to being put on the fourth floor (the daughters of the house, complacently occupying the lower rooms). Have hot water taken into the guest chamber as a matter of course, and, if your daughter happens to occupy the only spacious and convenient room in the house — as is so often the case— have her vacate in favor of your guest. These are the barest elements of hospitality, but even these, alas, are more often honored in the breach than in the observance.
A story is told of an old lady inclined to be stingy, who was anxious to make a great show of hospitality at a small cost. In measured, even tones she would ask her guest, “Would you like a glass of wine?”— then— with brightening countenance— whisper confidentially, “Or would you rather not?” It is safe to assume that in nine cases out of ten the guests said they would “rather not.” Another breach of good manners is observed in houses where they announce, “We never entertain our guests, we leave them to entertain themselves.” Quite apart from the fact that this is often only too obvious to the guest, this species of host and hostess should remember that at least some means should be provided whereby the guests can entertain themselves.
Turn your guests loose in your library, let them go to their rooms and write letters, permit them to visit surrounding places of interest at their own sweet will. All this is common sense— but defend us from the hospitality which places us in a chair adrift from a friendly magazine or book, and compels us to listen to family gossip — which we cannot understand— and domestic discussions into which we cannot enter. “In honor preferring one another”— that's the whole secret. – Los Angeles Herald, 1906
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