HOTELS VERSUS HOMES

"And brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee."—Luke 10:34, 35.

This is the good Samaritan paying the hotel bill of a man who had been robbed and almost killed by bandits. The good Samaritan had found the unfortunate on a lonely, rocky road, where, to this very day, depredations are sometimes committed upon travelers, and had put the injured man into the saddle, while this merciful and well-to-do man had walked till they got to the hotel, and the wounded man was put to bed and cared for. It must have been a very superior hotel in its accommodations, for, though in the country, the landlord was paid at the rate of what in our country would be four or five dollars a day, a penny being then a day's wages, and the two pennies paid in this case about two days' wages. Moreover, it was one of those kind-hearted landlords who are wrapped up in the happiness of their guests, because the good Samaritan leaves the poor wounded fellow to his entire care, promising that when he [149]came that way again he would pay all the bills until the invalid got well.

THE VALUE OF HOTELS.

Hotels and boarding-houses are necessities. In very ancient times they were unknown, because the world had comparatively few inhabitants, who were not much given to travel, and private hospitality met all the wants of sojourners, as when Abraham rushed out at Mamre to invite the three men to sit down to a dinner of veal; as when the people were positively commanded to be given to hospitality; as in many of the places in the East these ancient customs are practiced to-day. But we have now hotels presided over by good landlords, and boarding-houses presided over by excellent host or hostess, in all neighborhoods, villages and cities, and it is our congratulation that those of our land surpass all other lands. They rightly become the permanent residences of many people, such as those who are without families, such as those whose business keeps them migratory, such as those who ought not, for various reasons of health or peculiarity of circumstances, take upon themselves the cares of housekeeping.

QUEENLY CATERERS.

Many a man falling sick in one of these boarding-houses or hotels has been kindly [150]watched and nursed; and by the memory of her own sufferings and losses the lady at the head of such a house has done all that a mother could do for a sick child, and the slumberless eye of God sees and appreciates her sacrifices in behalf of the stranger. Among the most marvelous cases of patience and Christian fidelity are many of those who keep boarding-houses, enduring without resentment the unreasonable demands of their guests for expensive food and attentions for which they are not willing to pay an equivalent—a lot of cranky men and women who are not worthy to tie the shoe of their queenly caterer. The outrageous way in which boarders sometimes act to their landlords and landladies show that these critical guests had bad early rearing, and that in the making-up of their natures all that constitutes the gentleman and lady were left out. Some of the most princely men and some of the most elegant women that I know of to-day keep hotels and boarding-houses.

But one of the great evils of this day is found in the fact that a large population of our towns and cities are giving up and have given up their homes and taken apartments, that they may have more freedom from domestic duties and more time for social life, and because they like the whirl of publicity better than the quiet and privacy of a [151]residence they can call their own. The lawful use of these hotels and boarding-houses is for most people while they are in transitu: but as a terminus they are in many cases demoralization, utter and complete. That is the point at which families innumerable have begun to disintegrate. There never has been a time when so many families, healthy and abundantly able to support and direct homes of their own, have struck tent and taken permanent abode in these public establishments. It is an evil wide as Christendom, and by voice and through the newspaper press I utter warning and burning protest, and ask Almighty God to bless the word, whether in the hearing or reading.

PROMOTERS OF GOSSIP.

In these public caravanseries the demon of gossip is apt to get full sway. All the boarders run daily the gauntlet of general inspection—how they look when they come down in the morning and when they get in at night, and what they do for a living, and whom they receive as guests in their rooms, and what they wear, and what they do not wear, and how they eat, and what they eat, and how much they eat, and how little they eat. If a man proposes in such a place to be isolated and reticent and alone, they will begin to guess about him: Who is he? Where did he come from? How long is he [152]going to stay? Has he paid his board? How much does he pay? Perhaps he has committed some crime and does not want it to be known; there must be something wrong about him, or he would speak.

The whole house goes into the detective business. They must find out about him. They must find out about him right away. If he leave his door unlocked by accident he will find that his rooms have been inspected, his trunk explored, his letters folded differently from the way they were folded when he put them away. Who is he? is the question, asked with intenser interest, until the subject has become a monomania. The simple fact is, that he is nobody in particular, but minds his own business. The best landlords and landladies cannot sometimes hinder their places from becoming

A PANDEMONIUM

of whisperers, and reputations are torn to tatters, and evil suspicions are aroused, and scandals started, and the parliament of the family is blown to atoms by some Guy Fawkes who was not caught in time, as was his English predecessor of gunpowdery reputation.

The reason is that while in private homes families have so much to keep them busy, in these promiscuous and multitudinous residences there are so many who have nothing [153]to do, and that always makes mischief. They gather in each other's rooms and spend hours in consultation about others. If they had to walk a half mile before they got to the willing ear of some listener to detraction they would get out of breath before reaching there, and not feel in full glow of animosity or slander, or might, because of the distance, not go at all. But rooms 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 25 are on the same corridor, and when one carrion crow goes "Caw! Caw!" all the other crows hear it and flock together over the same carcass. "Oh, I have heard something rich! Sit down and let me tell you all about it." And the first guffaw increases the gathering, and it has to be told all over again, and as they separate each carries a spark from the altar of Gab to some other circle, until from the coal-heaver in the cellar to the maid in the top room of the garret all are aware of the defamation, and that evening all who leave the house will bear it to other houses, until autumnal fires sweeping across Illinois prairies are less raging and swift than that flame of consuming reputation blazing across the village or city.

Those of us who were brought up in the country know that the old-fashioned hatching of eggs in the hay-mow required four or five weeks of brooding, but there are new modes of hatching by machinery, which [154]take less time and do the work in wholesale. So, while the private home may brood into life an occasional falsity, and take a long time to do it, many of the boarding-houses and family hotels afford a swifter and more multitudinous style of moral incubation, and one old gossip will get off the nest after one hour's brooding, clucking a flock of thirty lies after her, each one picking up its little worm of juicy regalement. It is no advantage to hear too much about your neighbors, for your time will be so much occupied in taking care of their faults that you will have no time to look after your own. And while you are pulling the chickweed out of their garden yours will get all overgrown with horse-sorrel and mullen stalks.

A WRONG TO CHILDREN.

One of the worst damages that comes from the herding of so many people into boarding-houses and family hotels is inflicted upon children. It is only another way of bringing them up on the commons. While you have your own private house you can, for the most part, control their companionship and their whereabouts; but by twelve years of age in these public resorts they will have picked up all the bad things that can be furnished by the prurient minds of dozens of people. They will overhear blasphemies, and see quarrels, and get precocious in sin, and [155]what the bartender does not tell them the porter or hostler or bell-boy will.

Beside that, the children will go out into this world without the restraining, anchoring, steadying and all-controlling memory of a home. From that none of us who have been blessed of such memory have escaped. It grips a man for eighty years, if he lives so long. It pulls him back from doors into which he otherwise would enter. It smites him with contrition in the very midst of his dissipations. As the fish already surrounded by

THE LONG WIDE NET

swim out to sea, thinking they can go as far as they please, and with gay toss of silvery scale they defy the sportsman on the beach, and after a while the fishermen begin to draw in the net, hand over hand, and hand over hand, and it is a long while before the captured fins begin to feel the net, and then they dart this way and that, hoping to get out, but find themselves approaching the shore, and are brought up to the very feet of the captors, so the memory of an early home sometimes seems to relax and let men out further and further from God and further and further from shore—five years, ten years, twenty years, thirty years; but some day they find an irresistible mesh drawing them back, and they are compelled to retreat [156]from their prodigality and wandering; and though they make desperate effort to escape the impression, and try to dive deeper down in sin, after a while are brought clear back and held upon the Rock of Ages.

If it be possible, O father and mother! let your sons and daughters go out into the world under the semi-omnipotent memory of a good, pure home. About your two or three rooms in a boarding-house or a family hotel you can cast no such glorious sanctity. They will think of these public caravanseries as an early stopping place, malodorous with old victuals, coffees perpetually steaming, and meats in everlasting stew or broil, the air surcharged with carbonic acid, and corridors along which drunken boarders come staggering at one o'clock in the morning, rapping at the door till the affrighted wife lets them in. Do not be guilty of the sacrilege or blasphemy of calling such a place a home.

WHAT A HOME IS.

A home is four walls enclosing one family with identity of interest, and a privacy from outside inspection so complete that it is a world in itself, no one entering except by permission—bolted and barred and chained against all outside inquisitiveness. The phrase so often used in law books and legal circles is mightily suggestive—every man's [157]house is his castle. As much so as though it had drawbridge, portcullis, redoubt, bastion and armed turret. Even the officer of the law may not enter to serve a writ, except the door be voluntarily opened unto him; burglary, or the invasion of it, a crime so offensive that the law clashes its iron jaws on any one who attempts it. Unless it be necessary to stay for longer or shorter time in family hotel or boarding-house—and there are thousands of instances in which it is necessary, as I showed you at the beginning—unless in this exceptional case, let neither wife nor husband consent to such permanent residence.

HAZARDOUS TO MORALS.

The probability is that the wife will have to divide her husband's time with public smoking or reading room, or with some coquettish spider in search of unwary flies; and if you do not entirely lose your husband it will be because he is divinely protected from the disasters that have whelmed thousands of husbands with as good intentions as yours. Neither should the husband, without imperative reason, consent to such a life unless he is sure his wife can withstand the temptation of social dissipation which sweeps across such places with the force of the Atlantic Ocean when driven by a September equinox. Many wives give up their homes [158]for these public residences so that they may give their entire time to operas, theatres, balls, receptions and levees, and they are in a perpetual whirl, like a whip-top, spinning round and round and round very prettily until it loses its equipoise and shoots off into a tangent. But the difference is, in one case it is a top and in the other a soul.

THE LARES AND PENATES.

Beside this there is an assiduous accumulation of little things around the private home which in the aggregate make a great attraction, while the denizen of one of these public residences is apt to say: "What is the use? I have no place to keep them if I should take them." Mementoes, bric-a-brac, curiosities, quaint chair or cosy lounge, upholsteries, pictures, and a thousand things that accrete in a home are discarded or neglected because there is no homestead in which to arrange them. And yet they are the case in which the pearl of domestic happiness is set. You can never become as attached to the appointments of a boarding-house or family hotel as to those things that you can call your own, and are associated with the different members of your household, or with scenes of thrilling import in your domestic history. Blessed is that home in which for a whole lifetime they have been gathering until every figure in the carpet, [159]and every panel of the door, and every casement of the window has a chirography of its own, speaking out something about father or mother, or son or daughter, or friend that was with us a while. What a sacred place it becomes when one can say: "In that room such a one was born; in that bed such a one died; in that chair I sat on the night I heard such a one had received a great public honor; by that stool my child knelt for her last evening prayer; here I sat to greet my son as he came back from a sea voyage; that was father's cane; that was mother's rocking chair." What a joyful and pathetic congress of reminiscences!

HOSPITALITY CURTAILED.

The public residence of hotel and boarding-house abolishes the grace of hospitality. Your guest does not want to come to such a table. No one wants to run such a gauntlet of acute and merciless hyper-criticism. Unless you have a home of your own you will not be able to exercise the best rewarded of all the graces. For exercise of this grace what blessing came to the Shunamite in the restoration of her son to life because she entertained Elisha, and to the widow of Zarephath in the perpetual oil well of the miraculous cruise because she fed a hungry prophet, and to Rahab in the preservation of her life at the demolition of [160]Jericho because she entertained the spies and to Laban in the formation of an interesting family relation because of his entertainment of Jacob, and to Lot in his rescue from the destroyed city because of his entertainment of the angels, and to Mary and Martha and Zaccheus in spiritual blessing because they entertained Christ, and to Publius in the island of Melita in the healing of his father because of the entertainment of Paul drenched from the shipwreck, and of innumerable houses throughout Christendom upon which have come blessings from generation to generation because their doors swung easily open in the enlarging, ennobling, irradiating, and divine grace of hospitality. I do not know what your experience has been, but I have had men and women visiting at my house who left a benediction on every room—in the blessing they asked at the table, in the prayer they offered at the family altar, in the good advice they gave the children, in the gospelization that looked out from every lineament of their countenances; and their departure was the sword of bereavement.

The Queen of Norway, Sweden and Denmark had a royal

CUP OF TEN CURVES,

or lips, each one having on it the name of the distinguished person who had drank [161]from it. And that cup which we offer to others in Christian hospitality, though it be of the plainest earthenware, is a royal cup, and God can read on all its sides the names of those who have taken from it refreshment. But all this is impossible unless you have a home of your own. It is the delusion as to what is necessary for a home that hinders so many from establishing one. Thirty rooms are not necessary, nor twenty, nor fifteen, nor ten, nor five, nor three. In the right way plant a table, and couch, and knife and fork, and a cup, and a chair, and you can raise a young paradise. Just start a home, on however small a scale, and it will grow. When King Cyrus was invited to dine with an humble friend the king made the one condition of his coming that the only dish be one loaf of bread, and the most imperial satisfactions have sometimes banqueted on the plainest fare.

Do not be caught in the delusion of many thousands in postponing a home until they can have an expensive one. That idea is the devil's trap that catches men and women innumerable who will never have any home at all. Capitalists of America, build plain homes for the people. Let this tenement-house system, in which hundreds of thousands of the people of our cities are wallowing in the mire, be broken up by small homes, where people can have their own firesides [162]and their own altar. In this great continent there is room enough for every man and woman to have a home. Morals and civilization and religion demand it.

SMALL HOMES NEEDED

We want done all over this land what George Peabody and Lady Burdett-Coutts did in England, and some of the large manufacturers of this country have done for the villages and cities, in building small houses at cheap rents, so that the middle classes can have separate homes. They are the only class not provided for. The rich have their palaces, and the poor have their poorhouses, and criminals have their jails; but what about the honest middle classes, who are able and willing to work, and yet have small income? Let the capitalists, inspired of God and pure patriotism, rise and build whole streets of small residences. The laborer may have, at the close of the day, to walk or ride further than is desirable to reach it, but when he gets to his destination in the eventide he will find something worthy of being called by that glorious and impassioned and heaven-descended word, "home."

SOMETHING TO SAVE FOR.

Young married man, as soon as you can buy such a place, even if you have to put on it a mortgage reaching from base to [163]cap-stone. The much abused mortgage, which is ruin to a reckless man, to one prudent and provident is the beginning of a competency and a fortune, for the reason he will not be satisfied until he has paid it off, and all the household are put on stringent economies until then. Deny yourself all superfluities and all luxuries until you can say: "Everything in this house is mine, thank God!—every timber, every brick, every foot of plumbing, every door-sill." Do not have your children born in a boarding-house, and do not yourself be buried from one. Have a place where your children can shout and sing and romp without being overhauled for the racket. Have a kitchen where you can do something toward the reformation of evil cookery and the lessening of this nation of dyspeptics. As Napoleon lost one of his great battles by an attack of indigestion, so many men have such

A DAILY WRESTLE

with the food swallowed that they have no strength left for the battle of life; and though your wife may know how to play on all musical instruments, and rival a prima donna, she is not well educated unless she can boil an Irish potato and broil a mutton-chop, since the diet sometimes decides the fate of families and nations.

[164]Have a sitting-room with at least one easy chair, even though you have to take turns at sitting in it, and books out of the public library or of your own purchase for the making of your family intelligent, and checkerboards and guessing matches, with an occasional blind man's buff, which is of all games my favorite. Rouse up your home with all styles of innocent mirth, and gather up in your children's nature a reservoir of exuberance that will pour down refreshing streams when life gets parched, and the dark days come, and the lights go out, and the laughter is smothered into a sob.

CHRIST IN THE HOME.

First, last and all the time, have Christ in your home. Julius Cæsar calmed the fears of an affrighted boatman who was rowing him in a stream by stating: "So long as Cæsar is with you in the same boat no harm can happen." And whatever storm of adversity or bereavement or poverty may strike your home all is well as long as you have Christ the King on board. Make your home so far-reaching in its influence that down to the last moment of your children's life you may hold them with a heavenly charm. At seventy-six years of age the Demosthenes of the American Senate lay dying at Washington—I mean Henry Clay, of Kentucky. His pastor sat at his bedside [165]and the "old man eloquent," after a long and exciting public life, trans-Atlantic and cis-Atlantic, was back again in the scenes of his boyhood, and he kept saying in his dream over and over again: "My mother! mother! mother!" May the parental influence we exert be not only potential but holy, and so the home on earth be the vestibule of our home in heaven, in which place may we all meet—father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, grandfather and grandmother, and grandchild, and the entire group of precious ones, of whom we must say in the words of transporting Charles Wesley:

"One family we dwell in Him,
One church above, beneath;
Though now divided by the stream—
The narrow stream of death;
One army of the living God,
To His command we bow;
Part of the host have crossed the flood,
And part are crossing now."