Saturday, August 16, 2008

When the Servant Speaks

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."

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