Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Word to the Mistress

In the home where guests are frequently entertained and where the hostess holds many formal social functions, servants are essential.

Every family that can afford to do so, should have one, or two, or more servants according to social requirements and the appointments of the house. They should be well instructed in their duties and they should be expected to carry them out faultlessly. Untidy, noisy, ill-trained servants reflect upon the manners and conduct of the mistress herself.

The most common method of engaging a servant is through an agency. Here different types of men and women can be found, and the mistress of the household may be fortunate enough to find one suited to her requirements. Sometimes she secures a maid or butler by the recommendation of some other housekeeper. This method is usually more satisfactory than any other because it puts things on a rather friendly basis from the start.

But whether the maid or butler be engaged by recommendation or through an agency, it is important that it be clearly understood from the beginning just what his or her duties will be. And the mistress should not engage a servant unless she feels sure that he will be able to fill the position satisfactorily, for it is both an expensive and provoking process to change servants frequently.

The first few days in a new home are always difficult for the servant. The mistress should be patient and considerate and do all she can to make the newcomer feel at ease in her new surroundings. Her directions should be requests, not commands, and she should overlook blunders for they may be the result of the servant's unfamiliarity with the household and its customs.

After the servant has been in the household three weeks or a month, the mistress has every right to expect him to carry out his duties correctly. But we are all human, and we all make mistakes. When a servant blunders through carelessness a reprimand may be necessary, but to scold in loud, angry tones is most ill-mannered. The well-bred woman will never forget that there is as much demand for courtesy and kindliness in her relations with her servants as in any other relation in which she is placed. There is absolutely no reason why "please" and "thank you" should be omitted when we speak to the people who live in our homes and labor for our comfort and happiness.

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