Victorian London - Publications - Social Investigation/Journalism - In the Slums, by the Rev. D. Rice-Jones, 1884 - Chapter 4 - Servants' Opinions of St. Giles

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THE following facts may be interesting as showing what is thought of the district by domestic servants.
    When we informed our servants at Emperor's Gate that we were coming to live here, in the mission house, they at once gave us notice. Then after taking much trouble and losing much time, we engaged other servants to come with us. But these came and informed us that they had been with friends to see the place, and that they must decline to fulfil their engagements, as they had always been used to "respectable" places, and this was the "most haw-fallest" neighbourhood they ever set eyes on, and they could only say they pitied any lady who was obliged to come and live here. As for themselves, they would rather starve than come and live here. And so general was the objection of servants to come to this locality, that we had, after all our trouble, to come without a single servant, or even a nurse-maid for our child. On arriving here, however, we found [-17-] a poor, miserable, half-crazy woman of thirty or thirty- five, who had been sent to us from a servants' home in order to get rid of her. She had brought all her luggage with her, and had it safely stowed in the house before our arrival. She had, in fact, taken possession; and we were fain to let her stay, partly because we were not then acquainted with her eccentricities, and partly because there was no alternative but doing without a servant altogether.
    A few days afterwards, a poor woman was found sitting on our door-step in a most disconsolate state. She was in advanced middle-age, and although very poorly clad, looked as if she had seen better days. On being brought into the mission house she stated, that she was a servant out of place; that she had been in search of a situation, or employment of any other kind, during the last ten months, but had found it impossible to get anything to do, as people objected to her on account of her age; and that she had lately been sleeping at a night-refuge, but was not allowed to stay there during the day.
    Both my wife and I liked the woman's face, and our hearts were touched by the story of her hard lot. So we took her on trust, feeling that, if she proved satisfactory, we should at the same time be [-18-] doing a work of real charity and perhaps gaining a good servant. And I am happy to add that she did prove an excellent servant to us, and is still doing well. Where she lives at the present moment is of no importance.