Domestic Situations

A couple of items concerning servants: In his Memoirs and Anecdotes, Philip Thicknesse notes that in 1742 the Duke of Somerset had his dinners announced in a sort of diminishing echo:

… a servant entered, holding a silver staff in his right hand, something like a bishop’s crozier, and bare headed, announced the splendid repast three times thus; Forte, — Piano, — Pianissimo. My Lord Duke of Somerset. — My Lord Duke of Somerset. — My Lord Duke of Somerset. Your Grace’s dinner is upon the table.

“I believe my brother was the only undignified clergyman who was ever admitted to such an honor,” writes Thicknesse, “and as he died suddenly, a few days after, he died without knowing why this singular mark of attention was shown him.”

In a 1788 letter, Horace Walpole mentions the very aged Lady Philipps, the wife of a cousin. The family had a favorite African servant, “who has lived with them a great many years, and is remarkably sensible. To amuse Lady Philipps under a long illness, they had read to her the account of the Pelew Islands. Somebody happened to say we were sending a ship thither; the black, who was in the room, exclaimed, ‘Then there is an end of their happiness.'” Walpole writes, “What a satire on Europe!”