Lady Arthur’s lady’s-maid………


Lady Arthur’s lady’s-maid was Miss Henrietta Dovehouse, a native of Dawlish in Devon. Although in the works of French farce – and in Mr Sheridan’s The Rivals – lady’s-maids were portrayed as vain, twittering, immoral, tongue-poking baggages, it is unlikely that Henrietta Dovehouse fitted easily into this mould. She may not have been popular at Passford House. Lower servants generally disliked the lady’s-maid, partly because of her affectations, partly because she stood too close to her mistress’s ear.

Henrietta would have needed to be young [she was twenty-five in 1891] reasonably tall, discreet, cheerful and submissive. She had also to be healthy enough to withstand long hours, considerate enough never to fall asleep on her mistress’s shoulder in the carriage, virtuous enough to withstand the blandishments of footmen and butlers, honest enough to look after jewels, tolerant enough not to resent any male time-wasting incursions into feminine territory and sufficiently well educated that, when sent to fetch Corfe’s edition of Handel, not to return – as one girl did – with ‘a coarse dish with a handle’.

Would you qualify?………..

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