Posted by Bob Whitworth on August 13, 1998 at 12:33:46:
The following is from Joshua White's "Letters on England", written during his travels there in 1810 and published in Philadelphia in 1816.
The English servants are also greatly superior to ours; and those who have been accustomed to the management of slaves &c. will not fail to mark the difference. English servants are withal civil, obliging, active, and obedient. They are and must be industrious; for few families keep more than a maid-servant, boy, cook, and sometimes a nurse where there are children. Even with a less number the domestic affairs are conducted with ease and regularity. English servants call their employers master and mistress, but not withstanding the distance which separates them, and the humility of the menials, they cannot--they dare not be chastised. Even in this aristocratic government, the most dignified peer of the realm is extremely cautious in striking his domestic: the latter may defend himself, or resort to the law for redress. it is prompt to afford justice, and herein Englishmen may boast of their rights. Poverty and dependence do not contribute to the happiness of this life, therefore it is cruel to make the state of those more uncomfortable, who are compelled to live in servitude, by any conduct which the laws will not justify, or at which reason or humanity revolt.
The rights which an English servant claims, and which are equally his due with the first citizen in the kingdom, do not make him impertinent or assuming. Treated with kindness and condescension, and receiving good wages, he is generally zealous and active in the discharge of his duties, for upon this, principaly, he depends for a good character.
In the inns and coffee-houses, they are prompt and wonderfully active in their several stations: they are also polite and obliging; and the traveller gives the recompense of a sixpence, or one, two, or three shillings, according to the time he has been in the house, with as much pleasure for the civility with which he has been treated, as they receive it with grateful thanks.
The servants or waiters always expect a reward, for many of them get no wages, but depend solely upon the douceurs, which long established custom entitles them to receive.
The appearance of many of the female servants is such as will sometimes almost embarrass a stranger, who may mistake the maid for the mistress. Their dress is uniformly neat, cleanly, made with taste, and with some regard to ther prevailing fashion. Their duties are not arduous, and those who have the more important care of the house, have more or less leisure, which they may pass as they please. In common with the females of the higher tanks of society, they are generally comely, and often handsome
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