Imágenes de páginas

get rid of a bad servant without the uneasiness of a dispute ;. for which nothing can be pleaded, but the most ungenerous of all excuses, that the person whom we deceive is a stranger.

There is a conduct, the reverse of this, but more injurious, because the injury falls where there is no remedy. I mean the obstructing of a fervant's advancement, because you are unwilling to spare his service. To stand in the way of your servant's interest, is a poor return for his fidelity; and affords slender encouragement for good behaviour, in this numerous and therefore important part of the community. It is a piece of injustice, which, if practised towards an equal, the law of honour would lay hold of; as it is, it is neither uncommon nor disreputable.

A master of a family is culpable, if he permit any vices among his domestics, which he might restrain by due discipline and a proper interference. This results from the general obligation to prevent misery when in our power; and the assurance which we have, that vice and misery at the long run go together. Care to maintain in his family a sense of virtue and religion, received the divine approbation in the person of ABRAHAM, Gen. xviii, 19—-" I know him, that “ he will command his children, and his house.« hold after him; and they shall keep the way

i 66 he * Eph. vi. 5.

“ of the LORD, to do justice and judgment.” And indeed no authority seems so well adapted to this purpose, as that of masters of families ; because none operates upon the subjects of it, with an influence so immediate and constant..

What the Christian Scriptures have delivered, concerning the relation and reciprocal duties of masters and servants, breathes a spirit of liberality, very little known in ages when servitude was slavery; and which flowed from a habit of contemplating mankind under the common relation in which they stand to their Creator, and with respect to their interest in another existence. *“ Servants be obedient to them that are “ your masters, according to the flesh, with “ fear and trembling; in singleness of your “ heart, as unto Christ; not with eye service, “ as men pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, “ doing the will of God from the heart; with good will, doing service as to the Lord, and not to men : knowing that whatsoever good thing “ any man doth, the same shall he receive of the “ LORD, whether he be bond or free. And ye “ masters do the same thing unto them, forbear“ ing threatening; knowing that your master also “ is in heaven; neither is there respect of per“ sons with him.” The idea of referring their service to God, of considering him as having appointed them their task, that they were doing his will, and were to look to him for their reward, was new; and affords a greater security to the master than any inferior principle, because it tends to produce a steady and cordial obedience in the place of that constrained service, which can never be trusted out of sight, and which is justly enough called eye-service. The exhortation to masters, to keep in view their own subjection and accountableness, was no less season


66 masters


| C H A P.





HOEVER undertakes another man's

V business, makes it his own, that is, promises to employ upon it the same care, attention, and diligence, that he would do if it were actually his own ; for he knows that the business was committed to him with that expectation. And he promises nothing more than this. Therefore an agent is not obliged to wait, inquire, solicit, ride about the country, toil, or study, whilst there remains a possibility of benefiting his employer. If he exert so much of his activity, and use such caution, as the value of the business, in his judgment, deserves, that is, as he would have thought sufficient, if the same interest of his own had been at stake, he has discharged his duty, although it should after


wards turn out, that by more activity, and longer perseverance, he might have concluded the business with greater advantage.

This rule defines the duty of factors, stewards, attornies, advocates.

One of the chief difficulties of an agent's fituation is, to know how far he may depart from his instructions, when, from some change or discovery in the circumstances of his commisfion, he sees reason to believe that his employer, if he were present, would alter his intention. The latitude allowed to agents in this respect will be different, according as the commission was confidential or ministerial ; and according as the general rule and nature of the service require a prompt and precise obedience to orders, or not. An attorney sent to treat for an estate, if he found out a flaw in the title, would desist from proposing the price he was directed to propose ; and very properly. On the other hand, if the commander in chief of an army detach an officer under him upon a particular service, which service turns out more difficult, or less expedient, than was supposed, in so much that the officer is convinced that his commander, if he were acquainted with the true state in which the affair is found, would recall his orders, yet


« AnteriorContinuar »