Incommensurate Wages

One of the sources that influenced The Frequently Deceased is this essay about the lot of maids and nannies in Victorian households, written by a contemporary reformer. It’s longwinded, in Victorian style, but one of the key bits is this:

Money is assumed to confer more than the mere power to buy the time and labour which others have to sell. It is assumed to buy the whole being–liberty, affection, mind, freewill, and creed.

And this also:

Even in the case of a nurse who stands nearest to the family, and who has to give more than mere time and professional deftness–a loving care that wages cannot buy nor repay–if she is to the mind of her mistress she is kept during the baby years when she is wanted, but no sooner is the nursery empty than she is found superfluous and dismissed… With what conscience then can we demand, as we do, energies, devotion, self-sacrifice beyond the stipulated tale of tasks, when we give on our side absolutely nothing but the bare bones of our enforced obligations?

Loyalty can’t effectively be measured, or bought—or, for that matter, sold, even if one has run out of other things to sell. If you want a servant motivated by something other than money, you’re probably going to have to pay in some other currency, too. But in a place like Fallen London, someone would be very likely to try anyway, using their own perverse metrics.


(The Frequently Deceased is turning out to be a favorite on the Fallen London forums — if you are interested in playing, an Exceptional Friendship subscription for a month is a better deal than buying the story several months from now as a stand-alone unlock.)

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