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442 “ TO MAKE A WASH WOULD HARDLY STEW A CHILD."
vants generally; and when it has been applied to a certain grade of menials, whether it arose from the affectation of some one who wished it to be thought he never let anything short of a gentleman “ come between the wind and his nobility,” I know not; but it certainly in any case is a ridiculous term. A man of fortune, of course, requires his linen well aired, the fire in his dressing-room kept up, his clothes laid out ready for use, his dressing apparatus at hand, and many minor little offices done for him that others wot not of: but I must think a respectable man is equal to do this; for we are not to suppose a gentleman wants to be edified by the opinions or sentiments of his servant. Perhaps the term originated with some bel esprit among the fraternity, who enjoy the privilege of giving an opinion on what combination of cosmetics (according to the moment) may best serve their lordly master's complexion — “ to this complexion we must come at last” — (God of his mercy forbid it! for where cosmetics are wanted it must be a bad one) or the term may have had its origin from some man of common sense, who invented it in derision of the dress, manners, habits of life, contemptible and disgusting arrogance of these gentlemen: but the term has been used, and about as sensibly as that of gentlemen-jocks, be its origin what it may; and really those habits of indolence, impertinence, and expense that formerly were confined to these gentlemen's gentlemen, are making inroads, ay railroads, in the minds of ordinary servants, and are going on under high pressure too. Show me a more insufferable insolent imp than the present “ tiger," lounging by the side of his master like a woman of ton in her carriage: still, to be stylish, he must do this. It should seem that
THE INSOLENCE OF OFFICE.
some men conceive that the more arrogant their servants are, the more they add to their own éclat, as if they meant to say and let it be thought, that " though the fellow may show impertinence to some poor devil of only a few hundreds a-year, he dare not do so to me.” No doubt me is a most uncommonly fine fellow; but where he permits his servants or his pet tiger to be insolent to all but himself and immediate friends, Mr. Tiger should get a sound thrashing for his trouble; and if his conduct was defended, I know somebody else who would well deserve the same attention. There can be no doubt that superior persons require superior servants, and of course must give superior wages; but where wages are given to the amount they sometimes are, and where idleness and impertinence are permitted to the extent they are, the effect on a common mind is to convert that most useful, valuable, and respectable character, a trusty servant, into a dishonest, insolent profligate. Nor does it end here: not content with being this himself, if he comes in contact with a respectable and valuable servant, the latter is made the butt of the former vagabond and his companions, with Mr. Tiger at their head. Good servants (and there are plenty of them to be had if we get them from the right school) are inestimable treasures, as much so as good friends. We ought to be the friends of such, and consult their real comforts and even feelings much more than I suspect is often done: but the place to consult the feelings of the servants of many of our families of fashion is the cart's tail : such servants are the pest of the public. Show me the servants, I will pretty accurately guess at the habits of the family they serve (I should rather say are employed by).
I remember an anecdote told me of a gentleman's 444
CHANGE PARTNERS AND POUSSETTE.
gentleman who went to be engaged: he was told that when port or sherry was left after dinner in the decanters, it was allowed to be used by the superior servants. “Of course, Sir!” said he; "and I suppose if a friend comes in, you do not object to the butler drawing something better.” — “Why, you impudent scoundrel!” said the gentleman; “my son here, who is a captain in the army, could not ask for more.” — “I dare say not, Sir," said the fellow; “We pity many of those gentlemen, and often wonder how they get on at all!" I think most persons will agree with me, that if the gentleman had taken such a fellow into his service (and there are those who would have done so), he would have been rightly served if he had his house robbed. That a vast number are robbed by the connivance of such servants is well known. Idleness and high wages lead such minds to vice; that leads to extra expense; and that to the result I have mentioned. The master in such cases is more to blame than the man. From whom do such women as regularly frequent the lobbies get a great portion of their support ? Not merely from shopmen and apprentices, but from gentlemen's upper servants; and if men of fashion were to stoop so low in their amours, they would much oftener than they suppose follow their gentlemen.
How different are the servants of a well-regulated nobleman or gentleman's establishment, of which there are many? These get high wages of course, and well many deserve them. There is an air of respectability in their conduct and manner which shows they know their duty, and that they do it: they command your respect by the respect they show where respect is due; and whether in the house, the stables, the kennel, or
the garden, whatever is done is well done. Where the conduct of the family corresponds with their rank in life, that of the servants will in theirs be upon the same principle: where the master or family are scampish, the servants will be the same; and we may fairly describe those of such a man by saying, half the men are rogues, and half the women something else. If such heads of families knew the inferences drawn from the conduct of their servants, they would be convinced of the very bad taste they exhibit in tolerating the existing insolence of demeanour of their people. Idleness in a servant may be pardoned, because allowed habit may have brought it on; drunkenness may be overlooked, if we have allowed bad example to bring it on: even dishonesty, if it has arisen from improper temptation having been left in the way; but impertinence in a servant to any one admits of no excuse. I am quite sure even the apparent trifling circumstance of permitting a certain style of dress con tributes towards it. I allow that a servant's hand covered while waiting at table may be more congenial to aristocratic eyes than one bare; but surely white kid gloves at 3s. 6d., which can only be worn a very few times; might (with a servant) be replaced by cotton ones : and surely stockings of the same material would answer the purpose of silk! Plaster your servant all over with worsted, silver, or gold lace, if such is the taste of the master, and his wish to show gorgeous and expensive liveries; but what is worn by the guest I cannot but consider improper for the servant. Give him stockings of silk, if you please, at a guinea a pair, but let them be something like those of the livery of the late Duke of St. Alban's (if I remember right), black with yellow clocks. This is the
446 BRINGING THEM OUT IN RIGHT FORM. badge of servitude, and some badge of that sort servants should wear. But then what would become of gentlemen's gentlemen ? why, they would be in the same place where gentlemen-jocks, in racing phrase, should be, nowhere; and a very good place too for them, though a very bad one for a promising Derby colt. But gentlemen's gentlemen are generally cattle of no promise: I wish I had the handicapping them. Though I might seriously diminish the weight of their self-estimation, I promise them they should not carry a feather over the course they have hitherto run, I would bring them out fit to go, but without quite as much " waste and spare” on them. I would attend to their health, I warrant me. I would also attend to all their proper comforts and happiness; but they should not become cal fish and tricky. .
Let us have gentlemen: let us have yeomen, plebeians, or the middle classes (by whichever or whatever name you choose to describe them): let us have jockeys, and servants; but let the line of demarcation between the grades not be done (in stationer's phrase) in faint lines, but in a good honest, broad, black one. The higher grades would not then (as they now are to a certain extent) be compelled to treat the lower with unbecoming hauteur from a fear of a too near approximation; nor the lower grades be perpetually struggling to attain that unattainable (and to them unnecessary) title, “gentleman.” By each adhering to his proper station, each would receive the proper respect due to that station.
Let us therefore still have races to be ridden by gentlemen, races to be ridden by farmers, yeomanry, and of course, as usual, races to be ridden by jockeys; but in lieu of races for gentlemen-jocks,