Saturday, April 1, 2017

Etiquette and Swell Servants

 There is no doubt that the English nobility, have a way of employing servants which offers grand opportunities to rogues. 

The Swell Servants in England

''Although all hopes of recovering the jewels of Lady Dudley has vanished—their real value was £30,000 there is still a good deal of speculation about their disappearance, and a pretty general belief that some of His Lordship's servants must have been at least an accomplice in the transaction. It is difficult to believe that a box of such value entrusted to the care of servants could have disappeared in a railway station from unwilling hands, or that an outside thief could have known so much about the movements of the family as to have been on the spot at the precise moment. However this may be, there is no doubt that the English nobility, have a way of employing servants which offers grand opportunities to rogues.

In most cases the outside of the servants is the chief thing. If the coachman or footman is good-looking in his livery and of the required dimensions, his character is not inquired into. A well known Duke recently advertised for a footman of exactly five feet eleven and a half inches, whose sole business it would be to stand at the back of his coach beside another of like station. A youth, now in the employ of a lady of my acquaintance, applied for the advertised position, and says that his character was not asked for— he was taken into the servants' hall , and measured, and dismissed for lacking the half inch demanded by the Duke.

There is a passion tor tallness in servants, and of one noble family, at least, it is a rule to admit no man servant under six feet. There are six of these eminent personages in their fine mansions. The English servants are good-looking, neat and constitutional flunkeys and flunkeyesses. They are very shrewd, and have their class rules as well defined as any trade union. Downing street does not possess more pigeon-holes and red tape than a mansion of the wealthy. 

An upper house-maid would die at the stake before she would do a bit of work that came within the province of the under house-maid. A swell butler would throw up his position in the face of the Lord Chancellor himself if he were expected to black his own boots. There are many boys of thirteen kept in brass buttons, and in many an instance the sole duty of this boy is to brush the clothes and boots of the butler, the master of the house having his own separate valet.

Of course, it is not pride which has made the inflexible laws of etiquette among these servants, which they refuse to step out of an official groove or function. It is the determination of their class to preserve the conventional number of the servants required for any first-class household. They particularly dislike servants from other countries, especially the Germans, because if well paid, and well treated, they will do anything requested of them."— 
London Correspondent of the Cincinnati Commercial, 1875

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia