- Project Runeberg -  Letters written during a short residence in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark /
30

(1889) [MARC] Author: Mary Wollstonecraft With: Henry Morley
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equality. They are not termed slaves; yet a man may
strike a man with impunity because he pays him wages,
though these wages are so low that necessity must
teach them to pilfer, whilst servility renders them false
and boorish. Still the men stand up for the dignity of
man by oppressing the women. The most menial, and
even laborious offices, are therefore left to these poor
drudges. Much of this I have seen. In the winter, I
am told, they take the linen down to the river to wash
it in the cold water, and though their hands, cut by the
ice, are cracked and bleeding, the men, their fellow-servants,
will not disgrace their manhood by carrying
a tub to lighten their burden.

You will not be surprised to hear that they do not
wear shoes or stockings, when I inform you that their
wages are seldom more than twenty or thirty shillings
per annum. It is the custom, I know, to give them a
new year’s gift and a present at some other period, but
can it all amount to a just indemnity for their labour?
The treatment of servants in most countries, I grant,
is very unjust, and in England, that boasted land of
freedom, it is often extremely tyrannical. I have
frequently, with indignation, heard gentlemen declare
that they would never allow a servant to answer them;
and ladies of the most exquisite sensibility, who were
continually exclaiming against the cruelty of the vulgar
to the brute creation, have in my presence forgot that
their attendants had human feelings as well as forms.
I do not know a more agreeable sight than to see
servants part of a family. By taking an interest, generally
speaking, in their concerns you inspire them with

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