Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter iv: The Duties of Masters and Servants - The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
chapter iv: The Duties of Masters and Servants - Samuel von Pufendorf, The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature 
The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature, trans. Andrew Tooke, ed. Ian Hunter and David Saunders, with Two Discourses and a Commentary by Jean Barbeyrac, trans. David Saunders (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
The Duties of Masters and Servants
I.Servile State how begun. L. N. N. l. 6. c. 3.After Mankind came to be multiplied and it was found how conveniently Domestic Affairs might be managed by the Service of other Men, * it early became a Practice to take Servants into a Family, to do the Offices belonging to the House. These at first probably offer’d themselves, driven thereto by Necessity, or a Consciousness of their own Want of Understanding; but upon being assur’d that they should constantly be supplied with Food and Necessaries, they devoted all their Services for ever to some Master: And then Wars raging up and down the World, * it grew a Custom with most Nations, that those Captives, to whom they granted their Lives, should be made Slaves ever after, together with the Posterity born of them; though in many Countries, no such Servitude is in Use; but all Domestic Offices are perform’d by mercenary Servants hired for a certain Time.
II.A Temporary Servant. L. N. N. l. 6. c. 3. §4.Now as there are several Degrees, as it were, of Servitude, so the Power of the Masters, and the Condition of the Servants do vary. To a Servant hired for a Time, the Duty of the Master is to pay him his Wages; the other making good on his Part the Work as agreed for: And because in this Contract the Condition of the Master is the better, therefore such Servant is also to pay Respect to his Master according to his Dignity; and if he have done his Business knavishly or negligently, he is liable to Punishment from him; provided it go not so far as any grievous Maiming of his Body, much less so far as Infliction of Death.
III.A Voluntary Perpetual Servant.But to such a Servant as voluntarily offers himself to perpetual Servitude, the Master is obliged to allow perpetual Maintenance, and all Necessaries for this Life; it being his Duty on the other hand to give his constant Labour in all Services whereto his Master shall command him, and whatsoever he shall gain thereby, he is to deliver to him. In thus doing, however, the Master is to have a Regard to the Strength and Dexterity of his Servant, not exacting rigorously of him what is above his Power to do. Now this Sort of Servant is not only subject to the Chastisement of his Master for his Negligence, but the same may correct his Manners, which ought to be accommodated to preserve Order and Decency in the Family: But he may not sell him against his Will; because he chose this for his Master of his own Accord, and not another; and it concerns him much with whom he serves. If he have been guilty of any heinous Crime against one not of the same Family, he is subject to the Civil Power, if he live in a Community; but if the Family be independent, he may be expell’d. But if the Crime be against the same Family, it being independent, the Head thereof may inflict even Capital Punishment.
IV.Captive Slaves L. N. N. l. 6. c. 3. §7Captives in War being made Slaves, are frequently treated with greater Severity, something of a hostile Rage remaining towards ’em, and for that they attempted the worst upon us and our Fortunes. But as soon as there intervenes a mutual Trust, in order to Cohabitation in the Family, between the Victor and the vanquish’d Person, all past Hostility is to be accounted as forgiven: And then the Master does Wrong even to a Servant thus acquir’d, if he allow him not Necessaries for Life, or exercise Cruelty to him without Cause, and much more if he take away his Life, when he has commited no Fault to deserve it.
V.AlienableIt is also the Practice to pass away our Property in such Slaves who are taken in War, or bought with our Money, to whom we please, after the same manner as we do our other Goods and Commodities; so that the Body of such Servant is holden to be a Chattel of his Master. And yet here Humanity bids us not to forget that this Servant is a Man, however, and therefore ought not to be treated as we do our Moveables, use ’em or abuse ’em, or destroy ’em as we list. And when we are minded to part with him, we ought not to deliver him into the Hands of such, as we know will abuse him inhumanly and undeservedly.
VI.Offspring of Slaves. L. N. N. l. 6. c. 3. §9.Lastly, ’Tis every where allow’d, That the Progeny of Parents who are Bondmen, are also in a servile State, and belong as Slaves to the Owner of their Mother. Which is justified by this Maxim, That whosoever is Proprietor of the Body, is also Proprietor of whatsoever is the Product thereof, and because such Issue had never been born, if the Master had executed the Rigor of War upon the Parent; and for that the Parent having nothing she can call her own, the Offspring cannot otherwise be brought up but at her Master’s Charge. Whereas, therefore, the Master afforded such Infant Nourishment, long before his Service could be of any Use to him; and whereas all the following Services of his Life could not much exceed the Value of his Maintenance, he is not to leave his Master’s Service without his Consent. But ’tis manifest, That since these Bondmen came into a State of Servitude not by any Fault of their own, there can be no Pretence that they should be otherwise dealt withal, than as if they were in the Condition of perpetual hired Servants.
[*] Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis. lib. 2. cap. 5. §27, &c.
[*] Grotius de Jure Belli & Pacis, lib. 3. cap. 14. §1, &c.