Tuesday, July 3, 1711.
‘AEsopo ingentem statuam posuere Attici,
Servumque collocarunt AEterna in Basi,
Patere honoris scirent ut Cuncti viam.’
The Reception, manner of Attendance, undisturbed Freedom and Quiet, which I meet with here in the Country, has confirm’d me in the Opinion I always had, that the general Corruption of Manners in Servants is owing to the Conduct of Masters. The Aspect of every one in the Family carries so much Satisfaction, that it appears he knows the happy Lot which has befallen him in being a Member of it. There is one Particular which I have seldom seen but at Sir ROGER’S; it is usual in all other Places, that Servants fly from the Parts of the House through which their Master is passing; on the contrary, here they industriously place themselves in his way; and it is on both Sides, as it were, understood as a Visit, when the Servants appear without calling. This proceeds from the humane and equal Temper of the Man of the House, who also perfectly well knows how to enjoy a great Estate, with such Oeconomy as ever to be much beforehand. This makes his own Mind untroubled, and consequently unapt to vent peevish Expressions, or give passionate or inconsistent Orders to those about him. Thus Respect and Love go together; and a certain Chearfulness in Performance of their Duty is the particular Distinction of the lower Part of this Family. When a Servant is called before his Master, he does not come with an Expectation to hear himself rated for some trivial Fault, threatned to be stripped, or used with any other unbecoming Language, which mean Masters often give to worthy Servants; but it is often to know, what Road he took that he came so readily back according to Order; whether he passed by such a Ground, if the old Man who rents it is in good Health: or whether he gave Sir ROGER’S Love to him, or the like.
A Man who preserves a Respect, founded on his Benevolence to his Dependants, lives rather like a Prince than a Master in his Family; his Orders are received as Favours, rather than Duties; and the Distinction of approaching him is Part of the Reward for executing what is commanded by him.
There is another Circumstance in which my Friend excells in his Management, which is the Manner of rewarding his Servants: He has ever been of Opinion, that giving his cast Cloaths to be worn by Valets has a very ill Effect upon little Minds, and creates a Silly Sense of Equality between the Parties, in Persons affected only with outward things. I have heard him often pleasant on this Occasion, and describe a young Gentleman abusing his Man in that Coat, which a Month or two before was the most pleasing Distinction he was conscious of in himself. He would turn his Discourse still more pleasantly upon the Ladies Bounties of this kind; and I have heard him say he knew a fine Woman, who distributed Rewards and punishments in giving becoming or unbecoming Dresses to her Maids.
But my good Friend is above these little Instances of Goodwill, in bestowing only Trifles on his Servants; a good Servant to him is sure of having it in his Choice very soon of being no Servant at all. As I before observed, he is so good an Husband, and knows so thoroughly that the Skill of the Purse is the Cardinal Virtue of this Life; I say, he knows so well that Frugality is the Support of Generosity, that he can often spare a large Fine when a Tenement falls, and give that Settlement to a good Servant who has a Mind to go into the World, or make a Stranger pay the Fine to that Servant, for his more comfortable Maintenance, if he stays in his Service.