29 JUNE 1918, Page 10


[To THE EDITOR OF THE " SFECTATOR."3 S112,—.As an earliest seeker after truth, I read with eagerness in Last Saturday's Spectator the simple recipe for a happy Lome as given by the Olympian signed " Satisfied Mistress." It dashed my spirits considerably. It read to me like a pudding recipe demand- ing butter and eggs and a pound of sugar as chief ingredients. Surely for such fortunately placed people as "Satisfied Mistress" the servant problem does not exist—she is in Heaven, all's right with her world, until indeed some equally attractive neighbour hits on the wicked plan of offering high wages to begin with and an increase of ..t2 a year. Let me compare cases. I am the wife of a " G.F. minister " in Scotland, and have been delicately brought up, am not physically strong, and cannot do without servants. I feel dismally that " Satisfied "—in my dejection I say self-satisfied —"Mistress " would suggest " do without " as the only way out of the problem for such as I. My establishment is not Orientally opulent in servants as hers. It is after the order of "one and one, and a shadowy third "; that " shadowy third " after whom I stalk, day by day, faint yet pursuing. She is very elusive. She is probably bicycling about in that miniature British Empire—that servants' paradise, eight miles from a town.

Supply.—My servants love me dearly. I proclaim that with a flourish of trumpets to keep my spirits up. Yet despite the great love they bear me, the sister-and-friend-supply runs dry. I live in a town where the queue is at the Labour Bureau and tramcar office, not at my doorstep. They do not compete to come to me. Thus the abhorred- Registry Office must, if possible, be brought if:to action. It is not satisfactory; it frequently runs short of ammunition and frequently fires " duds." Wages.—It is very depressing. The lure of low wages is no magic -bait here at all—there is just no jostling for it. I am no Pied Piper, and there is no sound of scurrying feet towards my music, perhaps because I may not play on my pipes to the tune of bicycles and !bonuses, servants' halls and wrappers.

Accommodation.—It would be very delightful to give one's maids a large, airy hall, but such rooms are not built in a £90 rental house or in a Scotch manse. I feebly comfort myself in thinking that the class from which servants are drawn are accustomed to sitting in a kitchen. They reserve their clammy " sitting-room " for funerals and other gloomy festivals. The kitchen is their living-room, and, as a rule, a very comfortable place it is—a place of concentrated cosiness. In my house my maids continue their home-habit of sitting in the kitchen as I continue mine of sitting in the drawing-room. We both play the part we were born to, with an occasional reversal when the maids go out and I stay in.

Liberty.—'My house is their home." It is also mine and my husband's, so we too desire a little liberty. In those circumstances the staff may not depart for bicycle runs without my permission, nor " arrange amongst themselves" who may go out. I wonder if perhaps behind that baize door of " Satisfied Mistress" Mary Ann is crying her eyes out because of an unjust Kate who has been out three times to Mary Ann's once, and the Final Court of Appeal, having given good conditions and no interference, does not wish to be appealed to. The little world behind that door may be a happy little commonwealth; it is just as likely to be an anarchy.

"Satisfied Mistress" is quite clearly, however, an excellent mistress with excellent servants, but I venture to say that she has offered no solution of the real problem, which does not touch