Exilius, by Jane Barker

To the Right Honourable the Countess of Exeter.

Madam,
As I was extreamly confus'd to find my little Novel presenting itself to your Ladyship without your Leave or Knowledge, so I am as much delighted in having Permission to lay this large Composure at your Ladyship's Feet, by which Means I have the Opportunity to beg Pardon for the Offences committed by the other (which I do with all Humility) tho' I was not guilty, nor can conceive by what Concurrence of Mistakes it so happen'd, unless design'd by Fate to render your Ladyship's Goodness the more conspicuous, in pardoning those Indecorums and Breaches of Respect, always due to Persons of your Quality and Merit, but especially on such Occasions.

Madam, it was this profound Respect which has long oppos'd my addressing to you in this Kind; and which, I believe, would have wholly suppress'd all such Thoughts in me as too arrogant, but that I was encourag'd by casting an Eye on that great Wit, worthy of his Time, Sir Philip Sidney, whose Steps, with awful Distance, I now take Leave to trace; and beg this may find the same Acceptance thro' your Goodness, as his found thro' its own Merit; and then I am sure my Roman Heroes will be as safe in the Protection of the Countess of Exeter, as his Arcadians were in that of the Countess of Pembroke. Your Ladyship's Virtue and Prudence having gain'd so absolute an Empire over the Hearts of the World, that none can reject what you are pleas'd to approve, nor slight what you are pleas'd to encourage: So that one gracious Look from your Ladyship will raise my Exilius from his Dust, and make him live; live in the Hearts of all the Fair, and in the Esteem of all his own Sex, 'till they make his unfashionable Constancy become the newest Mode, by their wearing it, in practising what they have so long exploded and ridiculed.

Thus it is in your Ladyship's Power to reform the World, and restore heroic Love to its ancient Jurisdiction. It is in your Power, Madam, to dissipate all those Clouds of Tribulation which encircled these my Roman Lovers, from the Time of their Separation at Rome, 'till their Return to their Father's House in the Country.

And now, Madam, give me Leave to pause a littleWas it not Burleigh house, with its Park, Shades, and Walks, that form'd in me the first Idea of my Scipio's Country Retreat? Most sure it was; for when I compos'd my Romance, I knew nothing farther from Home than Burleigh and Worthorp. And 'tis as true, that those bright Heroines I have endeavour'd to characterize, are but some faint Resemblances of the noble Ladies, who inhabited those stately Palaces; amongst whom none has been a greater Ornament to this noble Family than your Ladyship. I dare not enter upon the Particulars of those Perfections which charm all that know you, lest I should lessen what I most desire to commend, they being above my Capacity; and tho' this be the common Excuse of all defective Writers, yet, I rather chuse that beaten Tract, than deviate into Complements, which my Education renders me uncapable to perform; therefore shall conclude with the Words of that great Sage; Many Daughters have done virtuously, But thou excellest them all: Chiefly in Humility and Condescention, in raising me from my Obscurity, to the Honour of subscribing my self, with profound Respect,

Madam,
Your Ladyship's most humble,
And most obedient Servant,

Jane Barker.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/barker/jane/exilius/preface1.html

Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31