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COURTESY TO INFERIORS.
social system. The French treat their servants as though they indeed formed a part of the family --making their enjoyment in health and relief in sickness a matter of due consideration in the establishment. And this is not merely done as a cold duty, a necessity imposed by public opinion; it proceeds rather from a benevolent recognition of their rights as fellow-creatures intimately connected with them in the relations of domestic life. In short, a bond of sympathy subsists between the parties; each taking an interest in the concerns of the other. This state of things unavoidably creates more familiarity than we, with our strict notions of propriety and subordination, may deem becoming; but if a fault, it is one on the right side. The result of this more humanized, more Christianized conduct, is a greater degree of contentment on the part of the servants, who repay the consideration shewn them, with attachment, moderation, and honesty.
It has been observed, and with truth, that in no other country do servants receive such high wages as in England; notwithstanding which, they are always dissatisfied, often dishonest, and rarely attached. They are indeed, as a class, open to all these charges; and probably they are daily becoming worse; but we have made them what they are.
Our example, yes, our example; for, to say nothing of the ostentatious profusion by which, in many mansions, they live surrounded, do they not witness our behaviour towards others? are they
not frequently even made the instruments of inflicting our conventional insults upon such of our neighbours and acquaintance as we hold excluded from the pale of our courtesies? Many a luckless wight in this land of liberal opinions, has, if I mistake not, more than once in his life felt the temperament of the household in regard to himself, indicated by the tone assumed toward him by its domestics. It is not surprising then, if the effects of this training, whenever there is an opportunity, should be felt by the teachers themselves.
In our intercourse with our servants, generally, our demeanour expresses plainly, you are not of us. We deceive ourselves if we think that money ever can be deemed a compensation for the indignities of such a condition. Depraved indeed must be the nature that can so esteem it; depraved, to a degree, that would render it; folly, in the extreme, to expect from such an one any thing beyond the fulfilment of the stipulated agreement.
But we do not get that, methinks I hear some exclaim, “that would satisfy us." True, we do not always get that, nor can it be matter of astonishment that we do not, when we reflect, that the beings from whom we unreasonably enough expect it, belong to a class whose early moral education has been most defective. They have the use of their fingers, undoubtedly; they have also acquired a certain stock of ideas pertaining to worldly wisdom, or cunning, sometimes though not always sufficient to save them from infringing
IN REGARD TO SERVANTS.
the laws, at least of adroitly evading them; but of their duties as responsible, social beings, beings accountable to God, they know next to nothing. Yet from these unenlightened creatures do we expect the practice of virtues which a life devoted to the study of religion and philosophy would hardly be able to produce. Honesty above the power of temptation, unimpeachable veracity, untiring vigilance and patience, unremitting industry, consummate skill in whatever relates to the duties of their office, and, to crown all, a temper of such angelic meekness as to remain unruffled under every species of annoyance and irritation. And for all this a stipulated hire, be it much or little, is considered adequate requital.*
Were I to pursue this subject, it would lead me beyond the limits necessary to be observed in an educational work. So far as the two questions relate to and act upon each other, it may be said to belong to it; and that such reaction does take place, there can be no doubt. Education alone the education of the class served as well as of the class serving-can operate a beneficial change in this department of our social system. The reform must be progressive: supposing even that any sudden revolution in the manners of the class served could take place, it is far from certain that it would be productive of equally good results as if brought about more gradually. As matters stand, it is not uncommon to hear individuals complain, that all they have reaped by deviating from the general custom, is insolence and ingratitude. Such complaints are not wholly without reason. It is painful to observe that any marked display of courtesy and kindness towards servants is liable to be misconstrued by them; but this proceeds more from the contrary system prevalent, than from the nature of the servants themselves. Like individuals of the brute species unaccustomed to caresses, they know not well what to make of courtesy when it comes to them from their superiors, and half suspect some sinister motive; or they begin to entertain doubts as to the consequence and grade of those who act so differently from the majority. This particularly applies to attendants at hotels, who are so accustomed to be addressed in an imperious tone by persons frequenting their master's establishment, that unless some very distinctive token, such as dress or equipage, invests you in their eyes with the patent of gentility, all you gain by treating them with marked civility and consideration is neglect and contempt.
* In speaking thus of servants, their duties, and our expectations, I must be understood as not including shew servants—those appendages of wealth, rank, and fashion—a class created by pride and luxury, to be the pests of society. Yet of these may we also say, they are what we have made them!
Let not such cases, however, make us weary in well-doing. There are many exceptions to all general rules; but even if there were none, we ought to persevere. Let us never repent of having shewn kindness to our fellow-creatures, whether servants or others, who may have appeared to
BETWEEN CHILDREN AND SERVANTS.
requite us with ingratitude. We know not but that a time may come when our kindness and forbearance towards them may rush upon the memories of the once thankless, and cause them to repent of the evil of their past lives, and to bless us, although we hear them not.
There is no point in the whole economy of domestic education so difficult to arrange as the relation proper to be observed between children and servants. I hold it to be impossible, as some writers on education have recommended, to prohibit all intercourse; neither would it be desirable on the score of Christian benevolence; and yet, seeing that servants are what they are, it behoves us to prevent, if we can, the corrupt influence of their morals and manners upon our children.
It is exceedingly difficult, without creating undue notions of his own superiority, to make a child understand that the being to whom he is indebted for so much personal care and comfort is not a fit associate for him. It seems a contradiction of those very precepts of Christian humility and grateful affection which we are at the same time labouring to instil.
The next best thing to educating the servants themselves up to that point of morals which would render them our assistants in the education of our offspring, a degree of perfection in our social organization which I fear we must not contemplate, is to give to the latter such tastes and habits as shall make them prefer the atmosphere of the