The American Pictorial Home Book
or Housekeeper's Encyclopedia - online book

A reference manual of household management in Victorian times.

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THE MISTRESS.                                      35
compensation for the constant wear and tear of health and the use of clothing, for they are compelled to appear genteel while in service. When these matters are duly considered there will be found useful and attached servants. The sensible master and kind mistress know that if servants depend on them for the means of living, in their turn they are dependent on their servants for many of the comforts of life, and that in using a proper amount of care in choosing servants, and making slight excuses for the short-comings and imperfections ot human nature, they will, except in some cases, be tolerably well served, and in a large majority of cases surround themselves with attached and faithful domestics.
Servants should look forward only to obtain the good will of their employers. By so doing they will be much happier, and find that it is much better for them, and "ye masters give unto your servants that which is just and equal, knowing that ye also have a master in heaven."
Neither in the kitchen nor in any other part of the household should the authority of the mistress be disputed. The mistress, amid all her temptations to use angry or cutting words, should not for a moment yield to them, but remember that she is superior, and that pleasant words and respectful language to an inferior, or to one in a subordinate position, with a polite and dignified bearing, will exert a most happy influence, securing her respect and a guarantee that she will not have to repeat her polite requests often; her lady­hood will be elevated in the eyes of her servants, while a corre­sponding sympathetic refinement will be exerted on them. A mistress should never give her orders in a haughty, chilling manner, which her subordinate cannot return without a loss of her place. Perhaps she may have an aged mother or other dear ones looking to her for the bread which her hard earnings furnish them, for ser­vants are not solely machines, or automatons, without feelings; yet at the same time they should feel and know that they are hired to do work, and should endeavor to perform their tasks to the best of their ability, and as nearly in the manner they are required to do them; and they should never be wasteful in anything, and should always give the mistress a cheerful reception whenever she comes into the kitchen, and be allowed to direct new dishes, and even to share the labors of their preparation.
The time, number and manner of receiving visits by servants had better be decided by arrangements between the employer and em­ployed. The mistress should teach and see that her children are polite and kind in their manner and speech to her servants, and not unreasonable in their demands upon their time and labor, and that they play no tricks upon them, and do nothing to impede their work,