Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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Social Changes in Sussex.                  285
him and the serving class. When he lost his first wife, and was looking about for another help-mate, he advisedly selected Molly Hicks, servant to Luke Spence, Esq., of South Mailing, and he so describes her in his diary. " She comes," he further tells us, "of respectable parents, and may, perhaps, one time or other, have some fortune."
In fact, a little further on, he tells us that "her fortune seems to be rather a flowing stream." "As to her education, I own," he adds, "it is not liberal; but she has good sense, and a desire to improve her mind, and has always behaved to me with the strictest honour and good manners." Molly Hicks was, in fact, as the editor of Thomas Turner's Diary (Mr. Blencowe) informs us, the daughter of a substantial yeoman at Chiddingly; and it was frequently from this class that servants were drawn in the last century, and no shame thought of it. Their position was that of one of the family— not mere menials—and, as we see, they often became the wives of men in the middle ranks, and made good wives too. This only lasted for a time. The middle class rose rapidly; the labouring class as rapidly sank; the drawing and dining room received the one; the kitchen was left solely to the other; and a very wide gap grew up, or rather down, between them, which there seems to be no modern Curtius capable of filling up.
It was about this time—the rising period of the tradesman, the declining one of the agricultural labourer—that the general servant, or " maid-of-all-work," came into existence. Like most other classes, she was created by circumstances— adverse to her own peculiar class, that of the farm labourer; flourished for a time—during the struggle upward of the middle classes—and then disappeared—with their initiation into wealth and luxury, and the increasing demand for servants of all kinds. For we ask such of our readers as can look back a few years, Has not the "servant-of-all-work" passed out of existence as one behind the times ? Only such as have arrived at a certain age can recall that patient,
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