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Preview: Vintage Maids & Butlers

Vintage Maids & Butlers



Old-fashioned and often quaint advice from the "Book of Etiquette" by Lillian Eichler, 1921, and other sources.



Updated: 2017-02-26T16:16:03.684-08:00

 



The Social Secretary

2013-02-03T07:09:20.335-08:00

The position of social secretary is an entirely clerical one, and never confers any "social privileges" unless the secretary is also "companion."

Her duties are to write all invitations, acceptances, and regrets; keep a record of every invitation received and every one sent out, and to enter in an engagement book every engagement made for her employer, whether to lunch, dinner, to be fitted, or go to the dentist. She also writes all impersonal notes, takes longer letters in shorthand, and writes others herself after being told their purport. She also audits all bills and draws the checks for them, the checks are filled in and then presented to her employer to be signed, after which they are put in their envelopes, sealed and sent. When the receipted bills are returned, the secretary files them according to her own method, where they can at any time be found by her if needed for reference. In many cases it is she (though it is most often the butler) who telephones invitations and other messages.

Occasionally a social secretary is also a social manager; devises entertainments and arranges all details such as the decorations of the house for a dance, or a programme of entertainment following a very large dinner. The social secretary very rarely lives in the house of her employer; more often than not she goes also to one or two other houses—since there is seldom work enough in one to require her whole time.

Miss Brisk, who is Mrs. Gilding's secretary, has little time for any one else. She goes every day for from two to sometimes eight or nine hours in town, and at Golden Hall lives in the house. Usually a secretary can finish all there is to do in an average establishment in about an hour, or at most two, a day, with the addition of five or six hours on two or three other days each month for the paying of bills.

Supposing she takes three positions; she goes to Mrs. A. from 8.30 to 10 every day, and for three extra hours on the 10th and 11th of every month. To Mrs. B. from 10.30 to 1 (her needs being greater) and for six extra hours on the 12th, 13th and 14th of every month. And to Mrs. C. every day at 3 o'clock for an indefinite time of several hours or only a few minutes.

Her dress is that of any business woman. Conspicuous clothes are out of keeping as they would be out of keeping in an office; which, however, is no reason why she should not be well dressed. Well-cut tailor-made suits are the most appropriate with a good-looking but simple hat; as good shoes as she can possibly afford, and good gloves and immaculately clean shirt waists, represent about the most dignified and practical clothes. But why describe clothes! Every woman with good sense enough to qualify as a secretary has undoubtedly sense enough to dress with dignity.



How Many Servants For Correct Service?

2013-02-03T07:10:28.623-08:00

It stands to reason that one may expect more perfect service from a "specialist" than from one whose functions are multiple. But small houses that have a double equipment—meaning an alternate who can go in the kitchen, and two for the dining-room—can be every bit as well run, so far as essentials go, as the palaces of the Gildings and the Worldlys, though of course not with the same impressiveness. But good service is badly handicapped if, when the waitress goes out, there is no one to open the door, or when the cook goes out, there is no one to prepare a meal.

For what one might call "complete" service, (meaning service that is adequate for constant entertaining and can stand comparison with the most luxurious establishments,) three are the minimum—a cook, a butler (or waitress) and a housemaid. The reason why luncheons and dinners can not be "perfectly" given with a waitress alone is because two persons are necessary for the exactions of modern standards of service. Yet one alone can, on occasion, manage very well, if attention is paid to ordering an especial menu for single-handed service. Aside from the convenience of a second person in the dining-room, a house can not be run very comfortably and smoothly without alternating shifts in staying in and going out. The waitress being on "duty" to answer bell and telephone and serve tea one afternoon, and the housemaid taking her place the next. They also alternate in going out every other evening after dinner.

It should be realized that above the number necessary for essentials, each additional chambermaid, parlor-maid, footman, scullery maid or useful man, is made necessary by the size of the house and by the amount of entertaining usual, rather than (as is often supposed) for the mere reason of show. The seemingly superfluous number of footmen at Golden Hall and Great Estates are, aside from standing on parade at formal parties, needed actually to do the immense amount of work that houses of such size entail; whereas a small apartment can be fairly well looked after by one alone.



What the Butler Wears

2013-11-27T09:18:08.855-08:00

The following is from "Etiquette in Society", by Emily Post, 1922

The butler never wears the livery of a footman and on no account knee breeches or powder. In the early morning he wears an ordinary sack suit—black or very dark blue—with a dark, inconspicuous tie. For luncheon or earlier, if he is on duty at the door, he wears black trousers, with gray stripes, a double-breasted, high-cut, black waistcoat, and black swallowtail coat without satin on the revers, a white stiff-bosomed shirt with standing collar, and a black four-in-hand tie.

In fashionable houses, the butler does not put on his dress suit until six o'clock. The butler's evening dress differs from that of a gentleman in a few details only: he has no braid on his trousers, and the satin on his lapels (if any) is narrower, but the most distinctive difference is that a butler wears a black waistcoat and a white lawn tie, and a gentleman always wears a white waistcoat with a white tie, or a white waistcoat and a black tie with a dinner coat, but never the reverse.

Unless he is an old-time servant, a butler who wears a "dress suit" in the daytime is either a hired waiter who has come in to serve a meal, or he has never been employed by persons of position; and it is unnecessary to add that none but vulgarians would employ a butler (or any other house servant) who wears a mustache! To have him open the door collarless and in shirt-sleeves is scarcely worse!

A butler never wears gloves, nor a flower in his buttonhole. He sometimes wears a very thin watch chain in the daytime but none at night. He never wears a scarf-pin, or any jewelry that is for ornament alone. His cuff-links should be as plain as possible, and his shirt studs white enamel ones that look like linen.



Why Two Maids?

2009-02-22T18:16:07.006-08:00

In very important houses where mother and daughters go out a great deal there are usually two maids, one for the mother and one for the daughters. But even in moderate households it is seldom practical for a débutante and her mother to share a maid—at least during the height of the season. That a maid who has to go out night after night for weeks and even months on end, and sit in the dressing-rooms at balls until four and five and even six in the morning, is then allowed to go to bed and to sleep until luncheon is merely humane. And it can easily be seen that it is more likely that she will need the help of a seamstress to refurbish dance-frocks, than that she will have any time to devote to her young lady's mother—who in "mid-season," therefore, is forced to have a maid of her own, ridiculous as it sounds, that two maids for two ladies should be necessary! Sometimes this is overcome by engaging an especial maid "by the evening" to go to parties and wait, and bring the débutante home again. And the maid at home can then be "maid for two."



Treating a Good Servant Well

2009-02-11T10:18:10.789-08:00

A good servant--and by "good" we mean a man or woman who goes about duties cheerfully, is respectful and willing, who is neat, well-mannered and well-trained must be treated in the right manner if he or she is to remain such. There are so many blunders the mistress can make, so many mistakes that bring the wrong response from those who are temporarily a part of her household.

For instance, a haughty, arrogant manner towards a servant who is sensitive will by no means encourage that servant to do his or her best work. And on the other hand, a servile manner towards a good servant one is afraid of losing, encourages that servant to take liberties and become unduly familiar.

It is as difficult to be a good mistress as it is to be a good servant. Both duties require a keen understanding and appreciation of human nature, a kindliness of spirit and a desire to be helpful. Both the servant and the mistress have their trials and troubles, but they should remember that it is only through mutual helpfulness and consideration, an exacting attention to duties and responsibilities, a wise supervision and a faithful service, that harmony and happiness can be reached in the home. And both should bear in mind that this harmony and happiness is
something worth-while striving for, something worth-while being patient and persistent for.

There is an old proverb which literally translated means, "By the servant the master is known." It is a good proverb for both the servant and the mistress to remember.



Should a Maid Wear a Cap?

2008-08-28T05:43:48.418-07:00

Sometimes they wear caps and sometimes not, depending upon the waitress' appearance. Twenty years ago, every maid in a lady's house wore a cap except the personal maid, who wore (and still does) a velvet bow, or nothing. But when every little slattern in every sloppy household had a small mat of whitish Swiss pinned somewhere on an untidy head, and was decked out in as many yards of embroidery ruffling on her apron and shoulders as her person could carry, fashionable ladies began taking caps and trimmings off, and exacting instead that clothes be good in cut and hair be neatly arranged.

A few ladies of great taste dress their maids according to individual becomingness; some faces look well under a cap, others look the contrary. A maid whose hair is rather fluffy—especially if it is dark—looks pretty in a cap, particularly of the coronet variety. No one looks well in a doily laid flat, but fluffy fair hair with a small mat tilted up against a knot of hair dressed high can look very smart. A young woman whose hair is straight and rebellious to order, can be made to look tidy and even attractive in a headdress that encircles the whole head. A good one for this purpose has a very narrow ruche from 9 to 18 inches long on either side of a long black velvet ribbon. The ruche goes part way, or all the way, around the head, and the velvet ribbon ties, with streamers hanging down the back. On the other hand, many extremely pretty young women with hair worn flat do not look well in caps of any description—except "Dutch" ones which are, in most houses, too suggestive of fancy dress. If no caps are worn the hair must be faultlessly smooth and neat; and of course where two or more maids are seen together, they must be alike. It would not do to have one wear a cap and the other not.



The House Footmen

2008-08-25T17:29:50.893-07:00

All house servants who assist in waiting on the table come under the direction of the butler, and are known as footmen. One who never comes into the dining-room is known as a useful man. The duties of the footmen (and useful man) include cleaning the dining-room, pantry, lower hall, entrance vestibule, sidewalk, attending to the furnace, carrying coal to the kitchen, wood to all the open fireplaces in the house, cleaning the windows, cleaning brasses, cleaning all boots, carrying everything that is heavy, moving furniture for the parlor-maids to clean behind it, valeting all gentlemen, setting and waiting on table, attending the front door, telephoning and writing down messages, and—incessantly and ceaselessly, cleaning and polishing silver.

In a small house, the butler polishes silver, but in a very big house one of the footmen is silver specialist, and does nothing else. Nothing! If there is to be a party of any sort he puts on his livery and joins the others who line the hall and bring dishes to the table. But he does not assist in setting the table or washing dishes or in cleaning anything whatsoever—except silver.

The butler also usually answers the telephone—if not, it is answered by the first footman. The first footman is deputy butler.

The footmen also take turns in answering the door. In houses of great ceremony like those of the Worldlys' and the Gildings', there are always two footmen at the door if anyone is to be admitted. One to open the door and the other to conduct a guest into the drawing-room. But if formal company is expected, the butler himself is in the front hall with one or two footmen at the door.



Duties of the Housemaid

2008-08-23T08:53:11.288-07:00

The cook, who is always dressed spotlessly in white, does nothing outside the kitchen unless special arrangements have been made to the contrary. She keeps the kitchen tidy and clean, cooks the meals, helps with the dishes and perhaps attends to the furnace.

The waitress opens and airs the living-rooms, dusts the rooms and gets everything in readiness for breakfast. It is customary to excuse her as soon as the principal part of the breakfast has been served, so that she may attend to her chamber-work and be ready to come down to her breakfast by the time the family has finished. However, before she goes to her own breakfast, she is expected to clear the dining-room table and take the dishes into the kitchen.

If the waitress does not help with the chamber-work, this duty falls entirely upon the chamber-maid. She must make the beds, sweep and dust the bedrooms, and keep them immaculate. The mistress should inspect the chamber-work occasionally for servants must not be permitted to feel that carelessness in details will be overlooked And the mistress should also take care of her own linen closet, unless she has a very trustworthy and competent servant; for linens should be worn alike, and not some worn constantly and others allowed to lie forgotten in corner of the closet.



The Maids' Men Friends

2008-08-23T08:54:50.312-07:00

Are maids allowed to receive men friends? Certainly they are! Whoever in remote ages thought it was better to forbid "followers" the house, and have Mary and Selma slip out of doors to meet them in the dark, had very distorted notions to say the least. And any lady who knows so little of human nature as to make the same rule for her maids to-day is acting in ignorant blindness of her own duties to those who are not only in her employ but also under her protection.

A pretty young woman whose men friends come in occasionally and play cards with the others, or dance to a small and not loud phonograph in the kitchen, is merely being treated humanly. Because she wears a uniform makes her no less a young girl, with a young girl's love of amusement, which if not properly provided for her "at home" will be sought for in sinister places.

This responsibility is one that many ladies who are occupied with charitable and good works elsewhere often overlook under their own roof. It does not mean that the kitchen should be a scene of perpetual revelry and mirth that can by any chance disturb the quiet of the neighborhood or even the family. Unseemly noise is checked at once, much as it would be if young people in the drawing-room became disturbing. Continuous company is not suitable either, and those who abuse privileges naturally must have them curtailed, but the really high-class servant who does not appreciate kindness and requite it with considerate and proper behavior is rare.



Appropriate Dress for a Maid-Servant

2008-08-20T05:49:47.592-07:00

The dress of the house-maids is very much alike. The waitress, or parlor maid, wears a plain, light-colored dress in the morning with a rather large apron, and a small white cap. The chambermaid's costume is very much the same. In the afternoon the parlor maid or waitress changes to a black serge dress in winter, or a black poplin in summer, with white linen cuffs and collars and a small white apron. [The costumes for maid-servants change frequently, only in slight details, but enough to warrant specific research at the time the servant is outfitted. A large department store, or a. store devoted exclusively to the liveries of servants, will be able to tell you exactly the correct costumes for maid-servants at the present time. Or you may find the desired information in a current housekeeping magazine.]

The maid-servants never wear jewelry or other finery while they are on duty. One very simple brooch, or perhaps a pair of cuff links, is permissible; but bracelets, rings and neck ornaments are in bad taste. Elaborate dressing of the hair should also be avoided, and careless, untidy dressing should never be countenanced.



The Maid-Servants

2008-08-19T05:34:45.996-07:00

Whether there is only one maid-servant in the house, or many, their duties should be clearly defined and understood. It is the only way to avoid quarreling and misunderstanding among the servants themselves. Let each one understand from the very first day he begins work just what his duties are. In this case as in many another an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If there are quarrels among the servants the mistress should not interfere nor take sides. If possible she should remove the cause of the friction, and for a serious fault she should discharge the one that is causing the disturbance.

The services of the waitress are confined to the drawing-room floor. She serves breakfast, luncheon and dinner, and afternoon tea where it is the custom. This is assuming, however, that there is no butler in the home. In this case she attends to all the other duties that would ordinarily fall upon him. She answers the doorbell, polishes the silver, helps with the washing of the dishes and sees that the table is correctly laid for each meal.

The parlor maid is a luxury enjoyed only by families of great wealth. She is expected to devote her time and attention wholly to the drawing-room and dining-room, assisting the waitress in the pantry and keeping the library and drawing-room in order. But in the average comfortable home of America there are usually only two maids, a housemaid and a waitress (with perhaps the additional services of a cook) and these two maids have the care of the dining, living and bedrooms divided between them.



Appropriate Dress for a Valet

2008-08-23T08:44:09.004-07:00

The valet does not wear livery. Indoors, in the evening and during the day, he wears dark gray or black trousers, white linen, a high-buttoned black waistcoat and a plain black swallow-tailed coat or one cut with short rounded tails. He wears a dark tie and dull leather shoes. He may also wear an inconspicuous pin in his tie and simple cuff-links; but a display of jewelry is not permissible. It may happen that a butler is ill or called away, or that there is a shortage of servants during a large entertainment. In this case the valet may be called upon to serve as a butler, and he then wears complete butler's dress, with the long-tailed coat. When traveling with his employer, the valet wears an inconspicuous morning suit of dark gray, brown or blue tweed in the conventional style. He completes this outfit with a black or brown derby hat and black leather shoes.



Appropriate Dress for Pages

2008-08-23T08:43:58.268-07:00

The livery for the page boy is the same during the day and evening. It is a simple, neat coat and trousers of dark cloth piped with the contrasting livery color of the family in which he serves. The coat fits the body snugly, and ends at the waistline except for a slight point at back and front. Metal buttons set as closely together as possible fasten the coat from top to bottom. The trousers are piped or braided in the contrasting color down the outside of the leg. White linen should show at the wrists and above the high collar of the coat, but there should be no tie. Black
calf skin shoes complete the outfit, and when the page is out of doors, he wears a round cap to match his suit. The bullet-shaped metal buttons down the front of the coat, and three of the same buttons sewed on the outside seam of the cuffs, have earned for the page the rather appropriate name of "Buttons."



The Page

2008-08-23T08:44:21.869-07:00

The page is a very convenient servant to have when there is no second-man or when there are no men-servants at all. His duties are many and varied. He runs errands for everyone in the house, assists the parlor-maid, looks after the open fire places and opens the door to callers. Sometimes he even serves as a sort of miniature footman, sitting next to the chauffeur in complete footman livery.



The Valet

2013-02-03T06:58:41.495-08:00

The business of the valet is to attend to all the comforts and desires of the master of the house. He takes no part in the general housework, except in an emergency. He brushes, presses, cleans, packs or lays out the clothes of his employer, draws the water for his bath, and assists him to dress. He keeps his wardrobe in order and packs and un-packs his trunks whenever he is traveling. He does all his errands, buys his railway and steamship tickets, pays his bills, and carries his hand-luggage when they are traveling together.

Sometimes he shaves him, orders his clothes, and writes his business letters. But these duties are expected only of accomplished valets. He does not, however, make the bed or sweep or dust his employer's room.



The Chauffer

2013-02-03T07:02:03.154-08:00

The gallant coachman of a decade ago has given way to the chauffeur of to-day. But we find that his livery is no less important. It is governed by a very definite convention. In winter, for instance, the chauffeur wears long trousers of melton or kersey or similar material and a double-breasted greatcoat of the same material.

The collar and cuffs may be of a contrasting color or of the same color as the rest of the material. He wears a flat cap with a stiff visor and a band of the same contrasting color that appears on the collar and cuffs of the coat. Dark gloves and shoes are worn. Sometimes, instead of long trousers, the chauffeur wears knee-trousers with leather leggings.

If desired, a double row of brass, silver or polished horn buttons may decorate the front of the greatcoat, but this must be determined by the prevailing custom. If the weather is extremely cold, the chauffeur should be provided with a long coat of goat or wolf-skin, or some other suitable protection against the cold and wind.

 During the summer months, the chauffeur usually wears gray or brown cords, developed in the conventional style. His cap and gloves match.



Proper Dress for a Second Man

2008-08-19T05:38:21.790-07:00

The livery of the second man is the same indoors all day; he does not change for the evening. It consists of coat and trousers of one solid color determined by the heads of the house. It is usually a very dark green, brown, gray or blue, and the outside edge of the trouser leg is piped in some contrasting color. The coat is usually swallowtail in cut, and is ornamented with brass or silver buttons on the tails, on the cuffs and down the front. Lately this vogue of the brass and silver button is disappearing. The color worn by the second man should be the predominating color worn by all the other liveried servants in the household. It is certainly not good form to have the chauffeur wear one color of livery, and the footman next to him wear livery of an entirely different color and cut. With his livery described above, the second man wears a waistcoat of Valencia, striped in the two colors that appear on the coat and trousers. It is usually cut V shape, disclosing white linen in which are fastened two plain white studs, a standing collar, and a white lawn tie. When he serves as footman, the second man may either be requested to don complete car livery, or he may wear a long footman's overcoat; top hat and gloves over his house livery.



The Second Man

2008-08-19T05:38:35.425-07:00

The second man may be employed exclusively for the house, or he may be employed solely to serve as footman, sitting next to the chauffeur when the mistress is motoring. In the latter case he wears the regular livery matching that worn by the chauffeur. But usually a second man is expected to help in the house besides serving as footman. He assists the butler by answering the door bell whenever the other is busy or occupied elsewhere. He washes dishes and windows and polishes the silver. He tends to the open fireplace in winter, and to the arranging of the flowers in the summer. The veranda, front steps and courtyard are also in his care. And when there are guests for dinner, or at a large entertainment, he helps serve at the table.


A clean shaven face and well-brushed, close-clipped hair are pleasing characteristics of the second man. Untidiness, ill-kept hands and nails, and the use of jewelry or perfume should not be tolerated in the second man, whether be serves only as footman, or in the house. When he helps the butler at the dinner table, he should be especially immaculate in appearance.



Neatness

2008-08-19T05:39:30.286-07:00

Neatness of attire is extremely important. The butler should be clean-shaven, and he should not fail to be fresh-shaven every day. His hair should not be closely cropped, but cut loosely, and it should be well-brushed at all times. Well-kept nails are, of course, very important not only for the butler but for anyone who serves at the table or has anything to do with the food.



Correct Dress for a Butler

2008-08-23T08:53:22.071-07:00

As nearly as possible, the butler's costume should parallel the following description, but each passing season finds some minor detail slightly changed, and each new season finds a slight variation from the costume of the season before. So the best thing to do is to find out definitely from a reliable clothier or from the men's furnishing department of a large department store, just what the butler's costume of the present time consists of. Ordinarily, the butler wears white linen in the morning, with black or dark gray trousers, a black waistcoast that buttons high, and a swallow-tail coat. It is also permissible for him to wear a short roundtail coat in the morning hours; it is similar to the gentleman's tailless evening coat, but it is not faced with silk. A black or dark tie and black shoes complete the outfit, which is worn until after the midday meal. If guests are to be entertained at luncheon, the butler wears his afternoon and evening livery. Otherwise he dons it only after luncheon or about three o'clock in the afternoon. It consists of complete black evening dress similar in cut and style to that worn by gentlemen. There are no braidings or facings, though the material of the suit may be every whit as excellent in quality as that worn by the master of the house. The butler does not wear a white waistcoat, a watch chain, or jeweled studs with his after noon or evening livery. Nor may he wear a boutonniere or an assertive tie or patent leather shoes. And it is extremely bad taste for him to use perfume of any kind. He wears white linen with plain white studs in the shirt front, a standing collar, white lawn tie and plain black shoes. His watch is slipped into his waistcoast pocket without chain or fob. White gloves are no longer the custom for men servants in the private home. When acting as footman to his mistress in the afternoon, the butler wears the livery described for the second man.

In cold weather he is supplied with a long footman's coat; and he is also supplied with a top hat and gloves, all matching in color and style those worn by the chauffeur.



The Basic Duties of a Butler

2008-08-23T08:53:34.502-07:00

The duties of the butler confine him to the drawing-room and dining-room. The dining-room, however, is his particular domain; he sees that everything is in order, that the table is laid correctly, the lighting effect satisfactory, the flowers arranged, and in short that the room and appointments are in perfect readiness for a punctual meal. In this work a parlor maid assists him by sweeping and dusting, and a pantry-maid helps him by keeping everything immaculate and in readiness in the pantry. The butler serves at breakfast, luncheon and dinner.

Where there is a second-man, he may assist the butler with the serving at dinner; and at large entertainments the maid who assists in the pantry may also be requested to serve. The butler also is in charge of the afternoon-tea duties, in homes where this custom prevails. He brings in the tray, arranges it for the hostess and sees that everyone is served. Where there are only a few servants, the butler may be expected to help with the dishes, polish the silver and assist in the pantry. But if there are maid servants, and a second-man to do the heavier work, then he is expected to serve in a small measure as the valet for the master of the house. He lays out his evening clothes, brushes and presses the garments worn in the morning, and draws his bath. Sometimes, when his domestic duties are very light, the butler is requested to serve as footman to the mistress when she goes riding in the afternoon. An important duty of the butler is to answer the door bell whenever it rings. He must see that the front door and the hall is in order and well-swept, and that the drawing-room door is locked every night after the family has retired. A great deal of the comfort and pleasure of the family depends upon the manner in which the butler attends to his duties.



The Servants of a Big House

2008-08-23T08:53:51.729-07:00

The small household must choose servants according to convenience and requirements. Where there are three or four grown-up daughters and the home is a small one, one maid and one butler are sufficient. But in a very large house with numerous rooms, where many social functions are held and many house parties are given by the hostess a full corps of servants is required. Each one should have certain, definite tasks to perform every day. In the luxurious American home, seven servants are usually employed. They are a butler, a chauffeur, a parlor maid, a cook, a laundress, a nurse-maid and a chambermaid. A lady's maid and a valet are sometimes added. A footman, laundry-maid and scullery-maid are also added, sometimes, to the corps of servants. But this list may be increased or diminished according to the requirements of the individual family. For instance, a second-man may be placed under the direction of the butler; a gardener and his assistants may be charged with the care of the environs; while grooms may be employed to care for the horses in the stables. But usually these additional servants are the luxuries of the extremely wealthy and should hot be indulged in by those who cannot afford them. In the home where there are several men servants and several women servants, it is the best plan for the wife to supervise the duties and responsibilities of the women, leaving the men to be directed by her husband. It is important, though, for the mistress of the house not to give counter commands to servants who are under her husband's supervision, for this may cause a friction that is not conducive to the best service on the part of the help.



When the Servant Speaks

2008-08-19T05:44:18.581-07:00

In answering the mistress or master of the household, it is customary for the servant to say, "Yes, madam," or, "Yes, Sir." Old servants, who have been for many years in the employ of the same people, may omit the "madam" and use the name, in this manner--"Yes, Mrs. Brown." Such slovenly expressions as "No'm" or "Yessir" show lack of good training on the part of the servant, and poor judgment on the part of the mistress.

Brevity and civility are the two most important virtues of the speech of the man or maid servant who answers inquiries at the door, admits guests and takes messages. In the latter case, when a servant takes a message for one of the members of the household, a polite "Thank you, madam" is essential. If there is a doubt as to whether or not the hostess is at home, the well-trained servant admits the visitor, asks her to have a seat, and says, "I will inquire." He returns to say either that Madam is not at home, or that she will be down directly. When announcing
guests, the butler should ask, "What name, please?" not in the indifferent, sing-song manner so characteristic of butlers, but in a cordial, polite tone of voice, and with a genial smile. Having been given the names of the visitors, he announces them in clear, distinct tones. These announcements are made while the guests are entering the drawing room. A mother and two daughters are announced as: "Mrs. Smith, the Misses Smith." If the given names of the young ladies are called, the form of announcement is: "Mrs. Smith, Miss Smith, Miss Alice Smith," the eldest daughter of a family being given the privilege to use the title "Miss Smith." In announcing a gentleman and his son, the butler says: "Mr. Blank, Mr. Francis Blank."



The Invisible Barrier

2008-08-19T05:39:56.815-07:00

In the sixteenth century French women servants were arrested and placed in prison for wearing clothes similar to those worn by their "superiors". It developed that they had made the garments themselves, copying them from the original models, sometimes sitting up all night to finish the garment. But the court ruled that it made no difference whether they had made them themselves or not; they had worn clothes like their mistresses', and they must be punished! We very much wiser people of the twentieth century smile when we read of these ridiculous edicts of a long-ago court, but we placidly continue to condemn the shop-girl and the working-girl if she dares to imitate Parisienne importations.

It is very often the same in the household. We ridicule the "class systems" of other countries, yet we deliberately build up a barrier between ourselves and those who work for us. Perhaps there must be some such barrier to keep the social equilibrium; but is there any reason why it should be unkind and discourteous?

The mistress should not, of course, confide in her servants, gossip with them, discuss her affairs with them, enter their quarrels and take sides with them. But she can be cheerful, polite, considerate; and invariably she will find that this kind of treatment will bring an immediate response even from the most sullen servant.



The Child and the Servant

2008-08-23T08:45:00.286-07:00

Insolence to servants on the part of children is as much a reflection on the manners of the parents, as it is upon the breeding of the children. The child that hears the servants addressed in rude, haughty manner will quite naturally adopt the same manner towards them. And no one, child or adult, can be considered well-bred unless he or she is courteous and kind to everyone, especially to those whose social position is inferior.

In the park, recently, a little tot of six years or thereabouts had a bag of peanuts which she offered to two little playmates and also to their mother who was sitting near by. Seeing that she did not offer her governess some peanuts, the woman inquired, "Why don't you offer Miss Taylor some?" To which the youngster immediately replied, "Oh, she's only my governess."

This is the result of wrong principle in the home. No child is born a snob. No child is born haughty and arrogant. It is the home environment and the precedent of the parents that makes such vain, unkind little children as the one mentioned above. It is actually unfair to the young children in the home to set the wrong example by being discourteous to the servants. They will only have to fight, later, to conquer the petty snobbishness that stands between them and their entrance into good society.