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How Shall We Entertain Our Company
by [?]

“Well, now, for my part,” said Marianne, “I confess I like parties: they amuse me. I come home feeling kinder and better to people, just for the little I see of them when they are all dressed up and in good humor with themselves. To be sure we don’t say anything very profound,–I don’t think the most of us have anything profound to say; but I ask Mrs. Brown where she buys her lace, and she tells me how she washes it, and somebody else tells me about her baby, and promises me a new sack-pattern. Then I like to see the pretty, nice young girls flirting with the nice young men; and I like to be dressed up a little myself, even if my finery is all old and many times made over. It does me good to be rubbed up and brightened.”

“Like old silver,” said Bob.

“Yes, like old silver, precisely; and even if I do come home tired, it does my mind good to have that change of scene and faces. You men do not know what it is to be tied to house and nursery all day, and what a perfect weariness and lassitude it often brings on us women. For my part I think parties are a beneficial institution of society, and that it is worth a good deal of fatigue and trouble to get one up.”

“Then there’s the expense,” said Bob. “What earthly need is there of a grand regale of oysters, chicken salad, ice-creams, coffee, and champagne, between eleven and twelve o’clock at night, when no one of us would ever think of wanting or taking any such articles upon our stomachs in our own homes? If we were all of us in the habit of having a regular repast at that hour, it might be well enough to enjoy one with our neighbor; but the party fare is generally just so much in addition to the honest three meals which we have eaten during the day. Now, to spend from fifty to one, two, or three hundred dollars in giving all our friends an indigestion from a midnight meal seems to me a very poor investment. Yet if we once begin to give the party, we must have everything that is given at the other parties, or wherefore do we live? And caterers and waiters rack their brains to devise new forms of expense and extravagance; and when the bill comes in, one is sure to feel that one is paying a great deal of money for a great deal of nonsense. It is in fact worse than nonsense, because our dear friends are, in half the cases, not only no better, but a great deal worse, for what they have eaten.”

“But there is this advantage to society,” said Rudolph,–“it helps us young physicians. What would the physicians do if parties were abolished? Take all the colds that are caught by our fair friends with low necks and short sleeves, all the troubles from dancing in tight dresses and inhaling bad air, and all the headaches and indigestion from the melange of lobster salad, two or three kinds of ice-cream, cake, and coffee on delicate stomachs, and our profession gets a degree of encouragement that is worthy to be thought of.”

“But the question arises,” said my wife, “whether there are not ways of promoting social feeling less expensive, more simple and natural and rational. I am inclined to think that there are.”

“Yes,” said Theophilus Thoro; “for large parties are not, as a general thing, given with any wish or intention of really improving our acquaintance with our neighbors. In many cases they are openly and avowedly a general tribute paid at intervals to society, for and in consideration of which you are to sit with closed blinds and doors and be let alone for the rest of the year. Mrs. Bogus, for instance, lives to keep her house in order, her closets locked, her silver counted and in the safe, and her china-closet in undisturbed order. Her ‘best things’ are put away with such admirable precision, in so many wrappings and foldings, and secured with so many a twist and twine, that to get them out is one of the seven labors of Hercules, not to be lightly or unadvisedly taken in hand, but reverently, discreetly, and once for all, in an annual or biennial party. Then says Mrs. Bogus, ‘For Heaven’s sake, let’s have every creature we can think of, and have ’em all over with at once. For pity’s sake, let’s have no driblets left that we shall have to be inviting to dinner or to tea. No matter whether they can come or not,–only send them the invitation, and our part is done; and, thank Heaven! we shall be free for a year.'”