Essay # 1
Hospitality is everywhere regarded as a virtue, but it is perhaps more common in the country than in the town. It is a common saying that in a big city like London, a man does not know even his next-door neighbour, and there is no place where one can feel so utterly lonely as among the millions of that huge city. The inhabitants of a large town would be astonished if a passing traveller, a complete stranger, came to their houses and demanded food and lodging from them. They would probably shut their doors in his face. But it is the commonest thing for villagers to welcome a passing stranger and give him free food and shelter and entertainment, expecting nothing in return. This is not only because villagers are simpler and more unsophisticated than town-dwellers but because their lives are so lonely and monotonous that a visit from a stranger is a welcome event; and also because in the sparsely populated country-side there are, as a rule, no public inns or rest-houses where travellers can stay. So in the country, hospitality is looked on more as a duty than a virtue, the performance of which is a matter of pride.
The people of the East, especially in Arabia and parts of India, are noted for their hospitality. It is said that among the Pathans of the North-West Frontier, the laws of hospitality were strictly observed; and even the most lawless Pathan raider never robbed or hurt a man who had eaten his salt, even though he be an enemy.
A great deal of hospitality is merely a matter of fashion and is selfish in its spirit. People ask acquaintances to dinner, not because they want to do them a service but because it is “the thing to do,” and because they hope to be asked back again in return. This is not the kind of hospitality that is a virtue; for that is unselfish and inspired by kindly feelings. So the Founder of Christianity taught his disciples to show hospitality only to the poor, who needed food, and who could not reward them for their kindness. While Jesus sat at meal in the house of a rich Pharisee who had invited him to dine with him one day, he said to his host: “When thou makest a dinner or supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, nor thy kinsmen, nor rich neighbours, lest happily they also bid thee again, and a recompense be made thee. But when thou makest a feast, bid the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind; because they have not wherewith to recompense thee.”
Essay # 2
A hospitable man is one who freely admits to his house friends and, in some cases, strangers also give them food and lodging when necessary, and provides them with entertainment. He is usually of a kind and generous nature, and by his benevolent disposition promotes social intercourse and adds to the pleasures of his fellowmen. Though hospitality is a virtue that can be practiced with magnificence only by the rich, yet it is also found in a simple and untainted from among, the poor, who; show an amazing willingness to share their scanty pittances with others who at the time happen to be less fortunate than themselves. The poor urchin, who shares his loaf of bread with another, stands out as an example of the truest and most unselfish hospitality.
Among primitive people, all over the world, the virtue of hospitality was regarded with greater reverence and practiced with stricter observance than in modern times. They would receive strangers in their houses, give them food and shelter, and speed them up on their travels with such help. as was in their power to give. A traveller who was not suspected of unworthy motives, if he reached a village at nightfall, would have no hesitation in going to. the house of the headman: secure in the belief that a welcome would be waiting for him.
Even an enemy, if he were once to cross the threshold and ask for shelter in the name of hospitality, would be treated as well as his host could treat him and might rest assured that, in case of discovery, his life would be as safe as in his own house, so long as he remained under that roof. The Arabs particularly are famous for their generous hospitality, and many stories are told of the bitterest enemies being treated with consideration during the times they have chanced to spend beneath their opponent’s roof.
In the present day, especially in towns, hospitality is practiced more sparingly, and the spirit it engenders is less frequently found. This is due not so much to a decline in generosity as to a change of conditions. The number of hotels and lodging houses is generally sufficient to give accommodation to strangers, and there is therefore no longer any need for travellers to invade the privacy of strangers’ houses and disturb their domestic arrangements. Nevertheless, most Men delight in honoring their friends and relatives by inviting them to their homes, for long periods if they live far apart, or for a few hours if they inhabit the same town or village. In this way, men, who are essentially sociable by nature, satisfy his desire for companionship, cheers his leisure hours, brightens his mind by stimulating conversation, and binds himself by a closer bond of love to the friends in whose company he: takes delight.