The Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift/Volume 16/The Duty of Servants at Inns

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To the preceding Directions to Servants, the following may be added, as they were both written with the same design, though in a very different manner. It will easily be perceived, that these are to be understood literally, and the others ironically.


BE mounted before your master. When you see him mounted, ride out before him. When he baits at noon, enter the inn gate before him, and call the ostler to hold your master's horse while he alights. Leave your master to the servants of the inn; go you with the horses into the stable; choose a place farthest from the stable door; see the standing be dry; send immediately for fresh straw; see all the old hay out of the rack, and get fresh put in; see your horses girths be loosed and stuffed; take not off the bridles till they are cool, nor saddles in an hour; see their hoofs be well picked; try if the heads of the nails be fast, and whether they be well clinched; if not, send presently for a smith; always stand by while the smith is employed. Give the oats the last thing. Water your horses when you are within a mile or the inn. Never keep above forty yards before or behind your master, unless be commands you. Try the oats by smelling and; weighing them; see you have good measure; stand by while your horses are eating their oats.

When you enter your evening inn, let your horses feet be stuffed with cow-dung every night. Observe the same rules, only be sure if any thing be wanting for a smith, let it be done over night.

Know the time your master will set out in the morning: allow him a full hour to get himself ready. Contrive both at morn and noon to eat, so that your master need not stay for you. Do not let the drawer carry the bill to your master, but examine it first carefully and honestly, and then bring it yourself, and be able to account for every article. If the servants have not been civil, tell your master before their faces, when he is going to give them money.


RIDE forty yards behind your master; but be mounted before him. Observe now and then whether his horse's shoes be right. When you come to an inn at noon, give your horse to the ostler; bestir yourself to get a convenient room for your master; bring all his things into his room, full in his sight; inquire what is in the house, see it yourself, and tell your master how you like it. Step yourself now and then into the kitchen to hasten dinner or supper, and observe whether they be cleanly. Taste the ale, and tell your master whether it be good or bad. If he want wine, go you with the drawer and choose a bottle well filled and stopped: if the wine be in hogsheads, desire to taste and smell it; if it be sour, or not clear, or ill-tasted, let your master know it, that he may not be at the charge of wine not fit to be drunk. See the salt be dry and powdered, the bread new and clean, the knives sharp. At night observe the same rules: but first choose him a warm room, with a lock and key in order; then call immediately for the sheets, see them well aired and at a large fire; feel the blankets, bed, bolster, pillow, whether they be dry, and whether the floor under the bed be damp. Let the chamber be that, which has been last lain in; inquire about it. If the bed itself be damp, let it be brought before a large fire, and air it on both sides. That you may forget nothing in the inn, have a fair list of what you want to take out; and when you put them up, compare them with your list.

You are to step now and then into the stable, to see whether the groom performs his duty.

For packing up your things, have a list of linen, &c. In packing take care that no two hard things be together, and that they be wrapped up in a paper, and other waste paper. Remember to put every thing in their proper places in the portmanteau. Stuff the shoes and slippers at the toes with a small lock of hay; fold up the clothes so as that they may not be rumpled. When your master is in his room at night, put all his things in such a manner as he has them at home. Learn to have some skill in cookery, that at a pinch you may be able to make your master easy.

The Groom. — Carry with you a stirrup-leather, an awl, twelve horse nails, and a horse's fore shoes, pick, and a hammer, for fear of an accident; and some ends, and packthread, a bottlescrew, knife and penknife, needles, pins, thread, silk, worsted, &c. Some plasters and scissars.

Item. The servants to carry their own things. Have a pocket-book, keep all the bills, date the time and place; and endorse the numbers.

Inquire in every town, if there be any thing worth seeing. Observe the country seats, and ask whom they belong to; and enter them, and the counties where they are.

Search under you master's bed when he is gone up, lest a cat or something else may be under it. When your master's bed is made, and his things ready, lock the chamber door, and keep the key till he goes to bed; then keep it in your pocket till morn.

Let the servants of the inn be sure to wake you above an hour before your master is to go, that he may have an hour to prepare himself.

If the ostler has been knavish or negligent, do not let him hold your master's horse. Observe the same rule at a gentleman's house; if the groom has not taken care of your horses, do not let him hold your master's.

Inquire at every inn where you stay, what is the best inn in the next town you are to come to; yet do not rely on that, but likewise as you enter into any town to stay, ask the people which is the best inn, and go to that which most people commend.

See that your master's boots be dried and well liquored over night.