Victorian London - Professions and Trades - Service Industry - Servants - Working Hours

    A great domestic movement is in agitation, which, it is expected, will convulse the social fabric from the area upwards, and shake our house­holds, not only to their centres, but to the very top of our chimney-pots, our weathercocks, and our cowls. The contemplated measure is a demand on the part of our domestic servants for a general early closing of all private houses at eight o’clock, so that after that hour the cooks, housemaids, nurserymaids, and others in our establishments may go forth in search of moral and intellectual recreation in the open air. It is argued, and with a considerable show of justice, that after cooking our dinners, and washing up our tea-things, the female servant has a right to go and get her mind cultivated, and her tastes elevated, or, as it were, put in soak in the fountain of the Muses, to be rinsed, and send forth its gushings when fitting opportunity might offer.
    The Domestic Early Closing Movement will entail on the masters the necessity of limiting their wants, and allowing none to extend beyond eight p.m., which it is contended will be found quite long enough for all reasonable purposes.
    The moral and intellectual training will generally be commenced by the policeman on the beat, but as boldness increases, the domestic servant may venture to improve her mind at some of the harmonic meetings in the neighbourhood of her master’s residence. Adjacent barracks will be particularly sought after for the culture which it is the object of the Female Servants’ Early Closing Movement to obtain.

George Cruikshank, Comic Almanack 2nd Series, 1844-53

see also Charles Manby Smith in The Little World of London (on Sunday leave) - click here