Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

taking up their time with occupations foreign to their business, is to defraud them of their wages.

The master is responsible for what a servant does in the ordinary course of his employment ; for it is done under a general authority committed to hir, which is in justice equivalent to a specific direction. Thus, if I pay money to a banker's clerk, the banker is accountable ; but not if I had paid it to his butler or his footman, whore business it is not to receive money. Upon the fame principle, if I once fend a servant to take up goods upon credit, what. ever goods he afterwards takes up at the same for, so long as he continues in my service, are jantly chargeable to my account.

The law of this country goes great lengths in in. tending a kind of concurrence in the master, so as to charge him with the consequences of his serva'.t's conduct. If an inn-keeper's fervant rob lis gueil, the inn-keeper must make restitution ; it a farner's servant lame a horie, the farrier must answer for the damage ; and fill farther, if your coachmai or carter drive over a paflerger in the road, the paile nger may recover from you a satisfaction for the hurt he suffers. But these determinations stand, Ithuk, jather upon the authority of the law, than any prin. ciple of natural justice.

There is a carel II els and facility in “ gising “ characters," as it is called, of servants, especially when given in wrilig, or accordirg to fome eftablithed form, which, to speak pamily of it, is a cheat upon those who accept them. They are given with fo little reserve ard veraciiy, “ that I Nould as “ foon dcpenu," savs the author of the Rinaber, “ upon an acquittal at the Old Bailey, by way of “ recommendation of a forvart's honesty, as upon “ one of these characters." It is sometimes care. Jellies; and sometimes also to get rid of a baj ter. vast without the uncalineis of a dispute ; for which norbing can be pleaded, but the moit ungenerous ct 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 obstruction of a servant's advancement, because you are unwilling to spare his service. To stand in the way of your servant's intereft, is a poor return for his fidelity ; and affords Nender 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 aud 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. 194" I know “ him, that he will command his children, and his 6 household after him; and they shall keep the way " 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 fo 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 . Eph. vi. 5.- 9.

sc Aeth

66 flesh, with fear and trembling; in fingleness of " your heart, as unto Christ ; not with eye service, es as men pleasers, but as the servants of Christ, “ doing the will of God from the heart; with good 66 will, doing service as to the Lord, and not to men : “ knowing that whatsoever good thing any man s doth, the same shall he receive of the LORD, “ whether he be bond or free. And ye masters, do “ the same thing unto them, forbearing threaten« ing; knowing that your master also is in heaven; “ neither is there respect of persons with him.” The idea of referring their service to God, of con. sidering him as having appointed them their talk, 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 ser. vice, which is justly enough called eye-service. The exhortation to masters, to keep in their view their own subjection and accountableness, was no less seasonable,

СНАР.

CH A P. XII.

CONTRACTS OF LABOUR.

COMMISSIONS.

HOEVER underssown, that is, prailigence,

UITHOEVER undertakes another man's busi.

V nels, makes it his own, that is, promises to employ the same care, attention, and diligence, that he would do if ot 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 einployer. 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 inte. rest of his own had been at stake, he has discharged his duty, although it should afterwards turn out, that by more activity, and longer perseverance, he might have concluded the business with greater ad. vantage.

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

One of the chief difficulties of an agent's situation is, to know how far he may depart from his instructions, when, from some change or discovery in the circumstances of his commission, 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 fer

vice

I 2

vice require a prompt and precise obedience to or. ders, or not. An attorney sent to treat for an eltare, if he found out a flaw in the tiile, would delift from proposing the price he was directed to propose ; and very properly. On the other hand, if the commander in chief of an army durach 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 uncer is convinced that his commander, if he were ac. quainted wiih the true face in which the atlair is tound, would recall his orders, yet must this othcer, it he cannot wait for freth directions, without pre. judice to the expedition he i. sent upon, purlue, at all hazards, those which he brought out with him.

What is trusted to an agent may be lost or da. maged in his hands by misfortune. An agent who acls without pay is clearly not answerable for ile lofs ; for, if he gives his labour for nothing, it cannot be presumed, that he gave allo fecurity for the success of it. If the agent be hired to the bu. fies, the question will depend upon the apprehenfion of the parties at the time of making the contract; which apprehension of theirs must be collected chiefly froin custom, by which probably it was guided. Whether a public carrier ought to account for goods fent by him; the on'.er or master of a fhip for the cargo; the poll.otice is letters, or bills inclosed ia leiters, where the loss is not inputed to any fault or neglect of thicirs; arc questions of this fort. Any expresion, which by i.rplication ainounts to a promile, will be binding uzun the ageni, without cultom; as where the pr -prictors of a Aage coach advertise, that they wil not be accountable for money, plate, or jewe's, thus rakes then accountable for everything che ; or where the price is too much for ile labour, pa't of it may be considered as a premium for iniur. ance. On the other bar'd, ary caution on the part

« AnteriorContinuar »