By Louisa Lane Clarke
The parson's wife with her servants, inasmuch as she has said, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord," has a first care in choosing for her domestics such persons as are pious, or at least of a strictly moral character; and that they belong to no dissenting congregation; not in an uncharitable or intolerant spirit, but because it is expedient and consistent that unity should commence and prevail in the pastor's family, and every member of it be a conscientious child of the church in which he ministers.
The parson's wife receives every servant as one who is committed to her care, both soul and body. She therefore seeks the one thing needful" in ascertaining the spiritual state of each individual, by conversing kindly with them, by giving them books to, read, and directing their prayers; becoming acquainted with their particular temptations and afflictions, in order that she may help them to overcome the one, and may soothe the other by christian sympathy and needful advice. For she looks upon her servants spiritually as brethren in Christ, and is not above ministering to their daily wants, even as her Lord bath set her the example when he cleansed his disciples' feet from the defilements of the day's journey. Thus she is more careful not to try their tempers, and more ready to bear their faults, more watchful over their conduct, more strict in the observance of duties.
Her house is remarkable for its extreme neatness and cleanliness. "Let all things be done decently and in order." Everything has its place, and every place a fit occupant. The servants know this, and expecting their mistress's observation, are in consequence more tidy and careful than most others. On the kitchen walls hang holy precepts to remind the thoughtless, to reprove the guilty, to strengthen the weak; such as the following:
"He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house, and he that speaketh lies shall not tarry in my sight?
"Servants, be obedient to your masters, not with eye-service as men-pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart."
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.'
And others, as she sees them necessary to the different characters.
The parson's wife is never known to scold or worry her servants. At times, if she is tempted to lose patience with their negligence and forgetfulness, or ill performance of 'some duty, she keeps silence until her own spirit is subdued, and then, with much gentleness and proper firmness, she reproves and reminds them of their faults: always making it under stood that if they do not choose to work without scolding, they must seek another place; it being against the rules of their master's house that such disturbances should occur. Thus her dignity is preserved on the one hand, and her gentleness on the other; since nothing so lessens a servant's respect for her mistress, and nothing more surely disturbs all christian peace, than the petty fault-finding, fidgeting, and irritation which good housekeepers sometimes think necessary in the kitchen.
The parson's wife is not above attending to the minutiae of domestic concerns, and is the more willing to enter into them, as by that means she is enabled to do much good in a hundred little ways, otherwise unknown. There are few luxuries in the parson's house: the living is plain though plentiful, and by attention there are little savings from waste, which become of real value to some poor persons, and cost nothing. There may be a cupful of broth, or a little jelly, a few spare bones boiled down, or a loaf-end made into a pudding; or in the dairy a pan of skimmed milk or a little butter; or in the garden a few superabundant vegetables; or in the poultry-yard a fresh laid egg, things which are often thrown away, or made use of unnecessarily, which a poor family or a sick neighhour would be very thankful for.
The linen is kept white and whole; the servants, if they have leisure hours, may be employed with their needle in behalf of the poor: but the parson's wife is careful to give them time for their own work, and is glad to allow an hour for reading, or otherwise improving themselves, if it is possible.
As to her conversation with the servants, it is scarcely necessary to observe, that she never allows anything like tale-bearing or gossip, repeating what was heard in the village, or reporting what was heard at a neighbour's, except for tidings of the sick or the afflicted. She never suffers them to speak of one another, and her own manner is ever gentle, dignified, and reserved. She encourages them in all that is praiseworthy, and checks every, appearance of evil, above all, maintaining truth and peace. The parson's house should be a holy and a happy home.