If the footman be a good cleanly-looking man, and possessed of the usual recommendations of sobriety, etc., he is seldom long out of employ; and in most cases in town, the tall men of this class are the selected. Many delight in seeing the well-dressed footmen, and consider there is a nobleness in the appearance of the carriage driving up with its two footmen in splendid livery; when, one footman descending, knocks at the door of the mansion, whilst the second takes his place by the side of the carriage-door.
The footman has an active kind of duiy. He is chiefly on foot, and cannot know town too well. He ought to be thoroughly acquainted with the residences of the nobility and gentry, and particularly of those visiting his master's house.
He is required to lay breakfast-cloths, and assist waiting at breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and will most likely have a small portion of work allotted to him daily; and in many cases, much of his time wiill necessarily be taken up with carriage-work.
A man in this capacity, who wishes to stand well with his employers, makes himself generally useful, there being many things which can be regulated only by the number of domestics kept.
The footman in a single-handed family, or where he is the only man-servant, is sometimes expected, amongst multifarious duties, to clean knives, boots, shoes, plate, furniture, lamps, brush clothes, attend the door, bear messages, wait at table, and answer bells. When so situated, the necessity of early rising is quite apparent, to give him command over the chief portion of his first work, to finish it before the family rises; but for such duties as those just named, the footman always finds a division made in large families, and then his work is allotted to him by the steward or butler of such establishment.
Never can we think of this valuable class of servant but with pain, when we remember the extremely unwonted attack of one of the most celebrated of the French artists of the kitchen on it. In speaking of the footman, he says: — "I have known balls where, on the next day, in spite of the pillage of a pack of footmen, which was enormous, I have really seen twenty or thirty hams, one hundred and fifty or two hundred carved fowls, and forty or fifty tongues, given away; jellies melted on all the tables; pastry, pates, aspics, and lobster salads — all these heaped up in the kitchen, and strewed about the passages, and completely disfigured, through the manner in which it was necessary to take them from the dishes in which they had been served; and this extravagance had been of no use to any human being, for even the servants would not consider it a legitimate repast, were they obliged to dine on the remains of a former day's banquet. This class of persons assimilate no little to cats — enjoying what they can pilfer, but very difficult to please in what is given to them."
However high the writer stood as a chef de cuisine and much as we respected him during some five-and-twenty years, never were we struck with more grief than when we read the above passage, exhibiting his paltry feeling and utter want of knowledge as to the household, and that exhibition couched in terms of the most maliciously vindictive slander.
Much it is to be lamented that so able a writer on cookery should have defiled his pen by attempting to lower the estimation of the employer for the defenceless footman, and so endeavouring to thrust him down below the rank of even common manhood, placing him in his manners, likes, and dislikes, as only on a level with the feline race.
Where could Mr. Ude have wandered to, to have witnessed the above? Was it under his own management it took place? Had the hiring of such people been his own? Why, surely the establishment where an Ude was kept must have been furnished with men of character for his confreres! We never yet knew of steward, butler, cook, or cook's assistants, who would have permitted this strange kind of havoc; and knowing the footman well in his habits, we, on his part, deny altogether the alleged practice of pilfering attributed to him by Mr. Ude. No servant could possibly be guilty of this; it would be, indeed, like the attack of a band of robbers, and the like could not possibly be in a nobleman's mansion. Such disorder of things being piled together would heap discredit on the steward, on the cook himself, and his assistants — they must all equally participate in the disgrace; and right well we know that the cook's assistants are ever most watchful om such occasions. For our own part, we can say we never witnessed the like, and hope we never may; certain it is, we never before even so much as heard of such occurring in this country.
No class of persons can more tenaciously value their character for honesty than the footmen; that taken or withheld from them, they are thereby virtually robbed of their existence as servants, since it is solely by their character they live.
Look at society throughout, and say what class shall be put forth to declare that honesty alone shall fill it. And thus, in common with society, servants, who are a branch thereof, sometimes have among them those who do wrong; but thoroughly glad they are themselves to find that dishonesty but at times enters into it; and when it does, all the world knows its lurking-place, and there is no one then more severely punished than the servant.
We contend that the footman is as valuable in his capacity as any servant forming part of the domestic establishment; and had the footman nothing beyond the capacity he fills to recommend him, still he is in the condition of having arrived at the centre of that point of distinction to which he is looking forward; and were he to remain in his present position of footman, neither his wages nor his profits could be the object of envy or of malice.
Without the footman, the carriage equipage, however elegant in other respects, would be incomplete; no establishment, great or small, can be well conducted without him; the dinner, ball, and rout testify his willing usefulness; and it is observed that no one is more ready to defend another than is the footman the family whose livery he wears, whose armorial bearings and crest he carries — those marks of the well-won honours of that family's high deeds.