[From Manx Soc vol 3 - part 1 Letter of James 7th Earl]


1.—The vanity and prodigality of the Earl's comimissioners. 2.— Observations on servants, 3—whether rich, 4—prodigal, 5— cunning, 6—fawning; the danger of these last. 7.—Stewards, 8—and secrets, how to be trusted. 9.—Comely servants recommended. 10.—Fanatic and Popish servants improper. 11.— Musicians troublesome; 12—and many boys, inconvenient. 13. —all under yeomen to be in livery. 14.—Provision for housekeeping to be made beforehand. 15.—The steward and clerk of the kitchen to be countenanced. 16.—Of rewards. King James the First's great gift to the Earl of Pembroke. 17.—The Earl's thoughts almost giving. 18.—The Duke of Buckingham's odd way; 19—a better. 20.—Not too many servants who are near relations, 21—or married. 22.—The Earl's complaint of bad servants, 23—and of his aforesaid commissioners. 24.—He compares his own way of writing to his son's riding.

THEY came in state, as I was told; which was much more for my honour than for my profit or credit; and to them of no little use, considering their merry times and bad reckonings. And, questionless, those who so willingly would be lavish to spend my moneys, would as readily sometimes husband a part of it for themselves. Nor am I mistaken in this, that (without offence unto the rest) Peter Winn did so; and I am happy to know it. For ill servants are like some diseases, which easily be cured when known, and as dangerous if undiscovered.

2. Some marks of a good servant I have told you, and these

3. First, When he minds himself more than you. That you may discern by his growing over wealthy, and gaining reputation with them he deals with in your behalf; taking unto himself the thanks of the favours which proceed from you. So may you observe men rather make addresses unto him than you. And he is usually well followed by your suitors, who commonly observe him much bare-headed; and he will take it sufficiently upon him, and herewith be so finely puffed up, that shortly he slights your service, and will think it a disparagement to wait as heretofore —at least, he thinks to honour you very much if he give you attendance. For now he is a gentleman of a good estate, professing how much he hath spent of his own purse to do you credit; and, if you respect him, he will honour you; otherwise, can live of his own, which he haply may believe his father left him, though he came to you a beggar.

4. Sometimes a servant will be prodigal and vain, neglecting his own affairs (and then most assuredly yours). This may plainly be known, if you see him needy, that he is a gamester, very vicious, and the like.

5. Another sort there is who desire to keep you in continual law suits and troubles; thereby himself never wants employment, and you cannot want him. For, by some cunning trick or other, when any more honest or sufficient than himself is offered unto you, he either acquaints that party beforehand that you will none of him, or tells you how unworthy he may be of you; and both sides a lie. But in this case a rule of Machiavell is remembered —Fortiter calamniare, aliquid adhaereibit.

6. A more dangerous than all is a flattering servant, who so insinuateth and endeareth himself to you by applauding and approving of all that likes you; as thereby you may think to have one after your own heart, but who shall afterwards gnaw you to the bones. Yet this rule take unto yourself, and there is less danger of deceiving: that, when any praiseth you, to be jealous you deserve it not; or, if you do, that you will think he does not always love you best who praiseth most. An Italian proverb saith, That after eating salt with one seven years, you may then guess how fitly you may trust him.

7. Those whom you trust with moneys bring them often to account.

8. Them to whom you do discover that which nearly may concern your life or honour, let it be to indeed I know not who.

9. It is very handsome to have comely men to serve you.

10. I would neither have any to be any piece of a Puritan or a Jesuit.

11. Next them, your musician is very troublesome.

12. Many boys to wait on your servants be skittish, pilfer, steal, and disgrace a house.

13. I would wish that all who are under the yeomen be in livery, whether they be your own fee'd men, or that they belong to the gentry in your house.

14. It is good to have provision aforehand for housekeeping. Much demesnes is commodious for that purpose. Do not, therefore, lease any that you have already; rather increase the same. If so you set any, let it be from year to year only.

15. Have a good steward of your house and clerk of the kitchen, who may make themselves awed by the servants, even as much as yourself. Wherefore, while they serve you, you must countenance them.

16. It hath been the custom of many princes to reward liberally their servants with such gifts as they thought little; because they have not known them. So did King James; until my uncle, the Earl of Salisbury, Lord Treasurer, once showed him £5,000 at once, which, at one clap, he had given to the Earl of Pembroke. He thought at that time there had not been such store of money in the kingdom; and sware he would give over giving. But he was better than his word.

17. I would the most I could keep my own myself; so shall I certainly better husband what I have. However, before I give I will consider what it is, to whom, why, and when.

18. The Duke of Buckingham was used to reward his worst servants first. And being asked the reason, he said, thereby he was sooner rid of them; and the others would easilier abide in hope.

19. How good a rule this is, I say not. But certainly, when you give to a good man, because he is good, it is like to keep him good, and it may make others good.

20. I am loth to have many of a house too near a kin: for by that means you will sometimes suffer one too much, for another's sake.

21. Nor would I have many married: for so you may happen to keep the children also.

22. Most of these misfortunes I have met with in servants, which have vexed me to the heart. I pray you, by my experience herein, learn you something.

23. I thought to have enlarged myself more in relating many passages in observation of my commissioners' proceedings here, wherein I had matter enough to have given you examples both of their pride and bribery. But I am loth to dwell too long on one subject, not knowing how little time I can dwell here myself, with any leisure, to continue this discourse.

24. I will skip over [then] to some other matter. So shall I not keep order in any even way, but, like as yourself do in your sports abroad, oft wantonly forsake a plain ground to gallop over a rough fallow, and now and then leap hedges; so as, following your own humour herein, I hope you will think my sayings to you to be less tedious.


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