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Worldly Color-Blindness
by [?]

One would expect that great worldly lights might learn by experience how fatal bungled entertainments can be, but such is not the case. Many well-intentioned people continue sacrificing their friends on the altar of hospitality year after year with never a qualm of conscience or a sensation of pity for their victims. One practical lady of my acquaintance asks her guests alphabetically, commencing the season and the first leaf of her visiting list simultaneously and working steadily on through both to “finis.” If you are an A, you will meet only A’s at her table, with perhaps one or two B’s thrown in to fill up; you may sit next to your mother-in-law for all the hostess cares. She has probably never heard that the number of guests at table should not exceed that of the muses; or if by any chance she has heard it, does not care, and considers such a rule old-fashioned and not appropriate to our improved modern methods of entertaining.

One wonders what possible satisfaction a host can derive from providing fifty people with unwholesome food and drink at a fixed date. It is a physical impossibility for him to have more than a passing word with his guests, and ten to one the unaccustomed number has upset the internal arrangements of his household, so that the dinner will, in consequence, be poor and the service defective.

A side-light on this question came to me recently when an exceedingly frank husband confided to a circle of his friends at the club the scheme his wife, who, though on pleasure bent, was of a frugal mind, had adopted to balance her social ledger.

“As we dine out constantly through the year,” remarked Benedict, “some return is necessary. So we wait until the height of the winter season, when everybody is engaged two weeks in advance, then send out our invitations at rather short notice for two or three consecutive dinners. You’d be surprised,” he remarked, with a beaming smile, “what a number refuse; last winter we cancelled all our obligations with two dinners, the flowers and entrées being as fresh on the second evening as the first! It’s wonderful!” he remarked in conclusion, “how simple entertaining becomes when one knows how!” Which reminded me of an ingenious youth I once heard telling some friends how easy he had found it to write the book he had just published. After his departure we agreed that if he found it so easy it would not be worth our while to read his volume.

Tender-hearted people generally make bad hosts. They have a way of collecting the morally lame, halt, and blind into their drawing-rooms that gives those apartments the air of a convalescent home. The moment a couple have placed themselves beyond the social pale, these purblind hosts conceive an affection for and lavish hospitality upon them. If such a host has been fortunate enough to get together a circle of healthy people, you may feel confident that at the last moment a leper will be introduced. This class of entertainers fail to see that society cannot he run on a philanthropic basis, and so insist on turning their salons into hospitals.

It would take too long to enumerate the thousand idiosyncrasies of the color-blind; few, however, are more amusing than those of the impulsive gentlemen who invite people to their homes indiscriminately, because they happen to feel in a good humor or chance to be seated next them at another house,-invitations which the host regrets half an hour later, and would willingly recall. “I can’t think why I asked the So-and-sos!” he will confide to you. “I can’t abide them; they are as dull as the dropsy!” Many years ago in Paris, we used to call a certain hospitable lady’s invitations “soup tickets,” so little individuality did they possess.

The subtle laws of moral precedence are difficult reading for the most intelligent, and therefore remain sealed books to the afflicted mortals mentioned here. The delicate tact that, with no apparent effort, combines congenial elements into a delightful whole is lacking in their composition. The nice discrimination that presides over some households is replaced by a jovial indifference to other persons’ feelings and prejudices.

The idea of placing pretty Miss Débutante next young Strongboys instead of giving her over into the clutches of old Mr. Boremore will never enter these obtuse entertainers’ heads, any more than that of trying to keep poor, defenceless Mrs. Mouse out of young Tom Cat’s claws.

It is useless to enumerate instances; people have suffered too severely at the hands of careless and incompetent hosts not to know pretty well what the title of this paper means. So many of us have come away from fruitless evenings, grinding our teeth, and vowing never to enter those doors again while life lasts, that the time seems ripe for a protest.

If the color-blind would only refrain from painting, and the tone-deaf not insist on inviting one to their concerts, the world would be a much more agreeable place. If people would only learn what they can and what they can’t do, and leave the latter feats alone, a vast amount of unnecessary annoyance would be avoided and the tiresome old grindstone turn to a more cheerful tune.