Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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Social Changes in Sussex.                  273
may be sure that there was an accompanying development in the social situation. The merchant's wife and the scrivener's wife — nay, the draper's wife, the clerk's wife, and the yeoman's wife—"looked up" in the world, and called in that help and aid for their increasing family wants and comforts which their more homely mothers had not needed, or managed to do without. Their "good men" wanted their dinners to be more varied and better cooked than they were wont to be, and the fittings-up of the hall and refectory and withdrawing-room required to be looked after with more care and by more skilful hands. So cooks and housemaids, and, as things went on, footmen and coachmen became part and parcel of the more well-to-do middle-class establishments, whilst, at last, scarcely a household above the mechanic or labourer's rank could do without a " general servant."
And for a time all went on well. The supply was equal to the demand. The drain of war had ceased to be felt by the labouring classes; food was cheap, or, in a time of scarcity, there were the Poor-law and out-door relief to fall back upon; no Malthusian doctrines were yet promulgated to check the force of the divine command to " increase and multiply," and so there was a class of labourers increasing in number, and decreasing in means, on which domestic service could draw almost without limit for its supply. It was the golden age of masters and mistresses, to which the present genera­tion looks back with regretful eyes. These were the days of long and faithful servitude, when the relations of man and master, maid and mistress, extending as they did over long periods of time, were of that kind that Shakspeare speaks of, "when service sweats for duty, not for meed"—when there was something like a personal friendship between the served and the server, and when the discovery had not been made that " service was not inheritance," for the servant scarcely thought of closing the service except by death or marriage.
Of these days—which, perhaps, the laudator temporis acti is apt to over-colour—does the late Rev. Edward Turner speak in T
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