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allowed to deliver any small thing, not even a card or a letter, except on a waiter; and this custom, independent of its cleanliness, begets respect, and displays a propriety of conduct which is always desirable in a servant.
A good footman, when sent out, will not waste his time, but will execute his errands quickly, and return to his business. Punctuality is an important quality in the footman, who ought never to fail in time when ordered to attend either his master or his mistress.
MRS. L. — I am aware it is impossible for you, my dear madam, to give me a minute account of the duties of the numerous inferior domestics who form a part of large establishments: nor can such detail be necessary, as they are more immediately under the eye and charge of the housekeeper and the steward, and probably are rarely seen by the master and mistress whom they serve.
MRS. B. The details I have now given you will probably be more useful to ladies who are their own housekeepers, than to those whose rank removes them from any very minute superintendence of domestic concerns.
MRS. L. The next subject upon which I wish to converse with you, is respecting the nursery. Will you oblige me by affording me every information in your power? MRS. B. To a person like yourself, totally inexperienced in the affairs of the nursery, I should particularly advise the engaging a steady upper nurse; one who has lived in a family of good habits. I have seen much anxiety arise from the consciousness of the mother, that her own ignorance in the management of children was equalled by that of her nurse-maid; and, thence, upon any varying appearance in her child, or upon the occurrence of any of those petty ailments to which an infant is liable, during the first months of its existence, the young and affectionate mother endures an anxiety and agitation, which would not be exceeded even in cases of the utmost extremity. Here the experience of the nurse may come to her aid, and allay her fears by the assurance, that the indisposition of her child is not more than what all such little frail tenements of clay must undergo upon entering life. Still, every mother should be the entire mistress of her nursery, and direct its
chief concerns. I would not have her, by any means, place herself under the guidance of her servant, nor trust to her judgment beyond the power it may have to allay her own too ready fears. Until her experience shall enable her to administer such gentle medicines as may be sufficient to remove slight indispositions, I would recommend her to apply to her medical attendant, whose advice, if he be a sensible man, will be a useful lesson in giving aid to her judgment, while it diminishes her fears.
The nurse should never be permitted to leave an infant even while sleeping, and, therefore, she ought to have an assistant, or the housemaid should be appointed to bring such things as she may require into the nursery, such as coals and water, her different meals, and the food prepared for the child. When there are two or three young children, an under nurse-maid becomes absolutely necessary; and she, too, should possess a good and willing temper, and cleanly habits: upon her waiting upon the nursery should devolve, and she should also be required to walk out with the children. She should be a sufficient sempstress, to assist in making and repairing the children's clothes.
MRS. L. - Do you not think a nurse-maid should be well aware of the responsibility attached to her situation?
MRS. B. If you are fortunate enough to meet with a sensible woman as a nurse-maid, you may perhaps make her comprehend, without giving her too much self-importance, how very much the future welfare of your children is dependent on the manner in which their first years are spent; and that
all the anxious cares you can bestow upon them will be inefficient if they be not in some measure seconded by hers. She is your deputy; and for the breach of such regulations and restrictions as you may think fit to appoint she is responsible.
MRS. L. Would you allow a servant to correct the children whom she has under her charge?
MRS. B. — I would on no account permit even the most unexceptionable servant to inflict on children personal correction; such can only be allowable in the nursery from the hand of a parent, who it can scarcely be supposed would give pain to her offspring from any angry impulse of the moment, but only from the conviction that such punishment is the best specific for the fault that it may have committed. But the mother, who suffers her children to be punished by her hirelings, of whose judgment she can have had little reason to form a high opinion, yields to them a power more likely to be exercised in wrath, than in the spirit of justice, or with the desire to prevent the repetition of the offence. The power of a nurse ought to extend no further than to enforce by gentle, but decided and firm measures, the wishes and orders of the parent; and, as far as my experience enables me to judge, I can see little reason to apprehend, that the united firmness of the parent and the nurse constantly adhered to, will not generally prove successful, in bringing into due subjection the most powerful rebel in the nursery. Yielding and coaxing are the greatest enemies to obedience; and, when the nurse adopts such means to obtain it, she shows her weakness to those most willing to
avail themselves of it, and she entails upon them punishment of a painful nature, which most probably will be the remedy applied to cure the evil which her want of decision has occasioned. If on the contrary, she had known how to preserve a determined manner without being harsh, obedience would have become a thing of course with her little charges; and I can venture to affirm, that such children would be much less liable to be peevish and passionate than those whose natural wilfulness had received no such check.
MRS. L. You have already mentioned the grievous effects which may arise in a nursery, from the bad principles of those employed in it. I should imagine their habits must also have an important influence, both on the health and the morals of children.
MRS. B. The habits of a nurse-maid have an undisputed effect on the health of an infant, and, in various ways, may be detrimental to future happiness. Indeed, both physical and moral education may be said to commence with the first breath of life.
The habits that an infant's life calls immediately into action from its nurse, are thoughtfulness and cleanliness. A nurse-maid without the former, will not think sufficiently of the comfort of her charge: she will hear it cry without endeavouring to know the cause, in order to administer relief. It may be suffering pain from bandages and strings too tightly drawn, while its apparent uneasiness, if not unheeded, is attempted to be lulled away, rather than the cause removed. It may be subject, by a