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Everybody's Business is Nobody's Business Daniel Defoe

Everybody's Business Is Nobody's Business

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Thirdly, The great height to which women-servants have brought their wages, makes a mutiny among the men-servants, and puts them upon raising their wages too; so that in a little time our servants will become our partners; nay, probably, run away with the better part of our profits, and make servants of us vice versa. But yet with all these inconveniences, we cannot possibly do without these creatures; let us therefore cease to talk of the abuses arising from them, and begin to think of redressing them. I do not set up for a lawgiver, and therefore shall lay down no certain rules, humbly submitting in all things to the wisdom of our legislature. What I offer shall be under correction; and upon conjecture, my utmost ambition being but to give some hints to remedy this growing evil, and leave the prosecution to abler hands.

And first it would be necessary to settle and limit their wages, from forty and fifty shillings to four and five pounds per annum, that is to say, according to their merits and capacities; for example, a young unexperienced servant should have forty shillings per annum, till she qualifies herself for a larger sum; a servant who can do all household work, or, as the good women term it, can take her work and leave her work, should have four pounds per annum; and those who have lived seven years in one service, should ever after demand five pounds per annum, for I would very fain have some particular encouragements and privileges given to such servants who should continue long in a place; it would incite a desire to please, and cause an emulation very beneficial to the public.

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I have heard of an ancient charity in the parish of St. Clement's Danes, where a sum of money, or estate, is left, out of the interest or income of which such maid-servants, who have lived in that parish seven years in one service, receive a reward of ten pounds apiece, if they please to demand it.

This is a noble benefaction, and shows the public spirit of the donor; but everybody's business is nobody's; nor have I heard that such reward has been paid to any servant of late years. A thousand pities a gift of that nature should sink into oblivion, and not be kept up as an example to incite all parishes to do the like.

The Romans had a law called Jus Trium Liberorum, by which every man who had been a father of three children, had particular honours and privileges. This incited the youth to quit a dissolute single life and become fathers of families, to the support and glory of the empire.

In imitation of this most excellent law, I would have such servants, who should continue many years in one service, meet with singular esteem and reward.

The apparel of our women-servants should be next regulated, that we may know the mistress from the maid. I remember I was once put very much to the blush, being at a friend's house, and by him required to salute the ladies, I kissed the chamber-jade into the bargain, for she was as well dressed as the best. But I was soon undeceived by a general titter, which gave me the utmost confusion; nor can I believe myself the only person who has made such a mistake.

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Everybody's Business is Nobody's Business
Daniel Defoe

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