A strict mistress is not necessarily a harsh one, and for the sake of others as well as herself she should insist upon the daily duties of each servant being faithfully and punctually performed. Every mistress should know for herself how long it takes for each household task, and it is then easy to see whether or no time has been wasted.
Work hurried is pretty nearly sure to be work ill done; and it is a fact that cannot be too firmly impressed upon all, that time must be proportionate to labour, and that a fair amount of rest should be regular and certain. In large households with a full staff of servants it is comparatively easy to have order, regularity and comfort, but where there are but few, or it may be only one woman servant, then the mistress has much to think of and to do. There are not only so many ways in which we may assist our servants, there are twice as many in which we can save them labour, and in which we can show them how to save themselves.
They for their own part having chosen their own way of earning their livelihood should be only too ready and willing to learn to rise in an honourable calling such as service is, and where their comfort and welfare is made the care of their mistress, it should surely be their pleasure as well as their duty to serve her to the best of their ability.
The number of men-servants in a family varies according to the wealth and position of the master, from the owner of the ducal mansion, with a retinue of attendants, at the head of which is the chamberlain and house-steward, to the occupier of the house, where a single footman is the only male retainer.
To a certain extent the number of men-servants kept is regulated by the number of women-servants, this statement, of course, not applying to such out-door servants as coachman, groom, or gardener. Occasionally a parlour-maid is kept instead of a second footman, or a kitchen or scullery-maid does the work in the way of boot-cleaning, etc., that would fall to a third footman or page. A man cook is now more rarely to be found in private service than formerly, women having found it expedient to bring their knowledge of the culinary art more to the level of the chef; while in many cases those who have graduated at one of the schools for cookery have risen superior to him both in the way they flavour and serve the various dishes that call for skill and taste.
The butler is the head of the male house-servants, and his duties are the most responsible, not the least amongst them being the superintending of the men under him if there be several. To him is confided the charge of all the most valuable articles in daily use, and under his sole charge is the cellar. It is needless to say, therefore, that he should be a man whose conduct is above suspicion, as his influence for good or bad will materially affect the other male domestics,