Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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284               Glimpses of Our Ancestors.
even the " servant-of-all-work " was not yet known—the wife did the housework with the help of her daughters or a poor relative or dependent, and the domestic labour-market was rather over than under supplied. It was a good thing then for a young woman from the country to get into a good family even as a servant.
In illustration of this period, when there was little to separate the middle classes of society from that class imme­diately beneath them, which was the nursery of domestic servants—that is, the agricultural labourers—we may turn to the journal of Thomas Turner, general dealer, of East-hoathly. It takes in the middle of the 18th century, from 1754 to 1765 ; and it is evident that at this time not only did all classes below the highest aristocracy mix and mingle much more easily than they do now, but that the trading classes—in country-places, at least—and the serving class approached very closely to each other—so closely, indeed, as to touch and mingle. Such was the case in the household of Thomas Turner himself. He was a man of education and a prosperous tradesman, associating on equal terms with the parson and the doctor of the parish, and yet he and his maid and shop-boys all took their meals together and went to church together, and he tells us of all this as of an ordinary matter-of-course thing. Videlicet: "I and the maid staid the Communion;"—a kind of association which we do not think is common in the present day ! There was, it is obvious, no great social gap between Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Turner and their housemaid or shop-boys. They all dined together in the kitchen, and, doubtless, passed the evening in the same apartment. The trading classes had not yet taken—at least, not in country-places—that bound upwards which has carried them to the very top of the tree, and the labouring classes had not begun that downward march which did not cease until the great mass of them had become paupers. Thomas Turner himself, though with good blood in his veins and a coat of arms in the family, does not seem to have been conscious of any great disparity between
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