Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A gentleman's servants

From Lord Chesterfield's letters to his son, which are an excellent insight into the life of
a gentleman in the mid 18th century, just a little earlier than the Malloren novels. 
"I would neither have that man, nor him whom you 
have already, put out of livery, which makes them both 
impertinent and useless. 
I am sure that, as soon as you 
shall have taken the other servant, your present man will 
press extremely to be out of livery, and (become) valet de chambre ; 
which is as much as to say, that he will curl your hair, and 
shave you, but not condescend to do anything else. 
I therefore advise you never to have a servant out of livery ; 
and though you may not always think proper to carry the 
servant who dresses you abroad in the rain and dirt, behind 
a coach or before a chair, yet keep it in your power to do 
so, if you please, by keeping him in livery."
Interesting distinctions that they take for granted. The valet de chambre was a high-ranking
servant and almost a companion. He would dress in style, and if he accompanied his employer
he would travel in the coach, or have a sedan chair of his own. Livery placed him closer to a footman. 
Not Georgian, but Regency -- RITA winning An Unwilling Bride is newly available now.