No. 137 Tuesday, August 7, 1711.
At haec etiam Servis semper libera fuerunt, timerent, gauderent, dolerent, suo potius quam alterius arbitrio.
It is no small Concern to me, that I find so many Complaints from that Part of Mankind whose Portion it is to live in Servitude, that those whom they depend upon will not allow them to be even as happy as their Condition will admit of. There are, as these unhappy Correspondents inform me, Masters who are offended at a chearful Countenance, and think a Servant is broke loose from them, if he does not preserve the utmost Awe in their Presence. There is one who says, if he looks satisfied, his Master asks him what makes him so pert this Morning; if a little sour, Hark ye, Sirrah, are not you paid your Wages? The poor Creatures live in the most extreme Misery together: The Master knows not how to preserve Respect, nor the Servant how to give it. It seems this Person is of so sullen a Nature, that he knows but little Satisfaction in the midst of a plentiful Fortune, and secretly frets to see any Appearance of Content, in one that lives upon the hundredth Part of his Income, who is unhappy in the Possession of the Whole. Uneasy Persons, who cannot possess their own Minds, vent their Spleen upon all who depend upon them: which, I think, is expressed in a lively manner in the following Letters.
August 2, 1711.
I have read your Spectator of the third of the last Month, and wish I had the Happiness of being preferred to serve so good a Master as Sir ROGER. The Character of my Master is the very Reverse of that good and gentle Knight’s. All his Directions are given, and his Mind revealed, by way of Contraries: As when any thing is to be remembered, with a peculiar Cast of Face he cries, Be sure to forget now. If I am to make haste back, Don’t come these two Hours; be sure to call by the Way upon some of your Companions. Then another excellent Way of his is, if he sets me any thing to do, which he knows must necessarily take up half a Day, he calls ten times in a Quarter of an Hour to know whether I have done yet. This is his Manner; and the same Perverseness runs through all his Actions, according as the Circumstances vary. Besides all this, he is so suspicious, that he submits himself to the Drudgery of a Spy. He is as unhappy himself as he makes his Servants: He is constantly watching us, and we differ no more in Pleasure and Liberty than as a Gaoler and a Prisoner. He lays Traps for Faults, and no sooner makes a Discovery, but falls into such Language, as I am more ashamed of for coming from him, than for being directed to me. This, Sir, is a short Sketch of a Master I have served upwards of nine Years; and tho’ I have never wronged him, I confess my Despair of pleasing him has very much abated my Endeavour to do it. If you will give me leave to steal a Sentence out of my Master’s Clarendon, I shall tell you my Case in a Word, Being used worse than I deserved, I cared less to deserve well than I had done.
I am, SIR, Your Humble Servant, RALPH VALET.
Dear Mr. SPECTER, I am the next thing to a Lady’s Woman, and am under both my Lady and her Woman. I am so used by them both, that I should be very glad to see them in the SPECTER. My Lady her self is of no Mind in the World, and for that Reason her Woman is of twenty Minds in a Moment. My Lady is one that never knows what to do with her self; she pulls on and puts off every thing she wears twenty times before she resolves upon it for that Day. I stand at one end of the Room, and reach things to her Woman. When my Lady asks for a thing, I hear and have half brought it, when the Woman meets me in the middle of the Room to receive it, and at that Instant she says No she will not have it. Then I go back, and her Woman comes up to her, and by this time she will have that and two or three things more in an Instant: The Woman and I run to each other; I am loaded and delivering the things to her, when my Lady says she wants none of all these things, and we are the dullest Creatures in the World, and she the unhappiest Woman living, for she shan’t be dress’d in any time. Thus we stand not knowing what to do, when our good Lady with all the Patience in the World tells us as plain as she can speak, that she will have Temper because we have no manner of Understanding; and begins again to dress, and see if we can find out of our selves what we are to do. When she is Dressed she goes to Dinner, and after she has disliked every thing there, she calls for the Coach, then commands it in again, and then she will not go out at all, and then will go too, and orders the Chariot. Now, good Mr. SPECTER, I desire you would in the Behalf of all who serve froward Ladies, give out in your Paper, that nothing can be done without allowing Time for it, and that one cannot be back again with what one was sent for, if one is called back before one can go a Step for that they want. And if you please let them know that all Mistresses are as like as all Servants.