The Lining of the Patch-Work Screen, by Jane Barker

To the Ladies.

You may please to remember, that when we left our Galecia, it was with the good Lady, to partake of the Autumn Diversions in the Country; as Horse−Races, Dancings, Assemblées, Plays, Rafflings, and other Entertainments.

These being over, some Business of consequence call'd her to London, whether Masquerading, or Tossing of Coffee−Grounds, I know not; but probably the latter; it being an Augury very much in vogue and as true, as any by which Sidrofel prognosticated, even when he too the Boy's Kite for a blazing Comet; and as useful too as Scates in Spain, or Fans in Moscovy; whatever was the Motive, our Galecia must needs ramble, like others, to take London−Air, when it is most substantially to be distinguished, in the midst of Winter.

Here it was I found her, and often had her Company, receiving from time to time an account of her Adventures; which I have kept together, in order to make a Lining for your Patch−work Screen. But these Pieces being much larger than the others, I think we must call it Pane−work; which, I hope, will be acceptable to your Ladyships, you having pleas'd your selves with this kind of Composure in your Petticoats; which, methinks, bears some resemblance to Old London, when the Buildings were of Wood and Plaister. I wish, Ladies, you don't condemn this my LINING to the same Fate.

Well, be it so; if it have but the honour to light your Lamps for your Tea−kettles, its Fate will be propitious enough; and if it be thus far useful, I hope, you will not think there is too much of it. For my own part, I fear'd there would hardly be enough to hold out measure with the SCREEN.

This made me once think to have enlarg'd it, by putting in some Pannels of Verse; but, that I heard say, Poetry is not much worn at Court; only some old Ends of Greek and Latin, wherewith they garnish their Dedications, as Cooks do their Dishes with Laurel or other Greens, which are commonly thrown by, as troublesome to the Carver, whatsoever Poetry may be by the Reader.

Wherefore, I hope, your Ladyships will easily excuse the want of this kind of Embellishment in my Dedication; remembring, that

One Tongue is enough for a Woman.

But perhaps, it may be said, that this is an old−fashion'd, out−of−the−way Proverb, used only when Ladies liv'd at their Country−Seats, and had no occasion for the Jargon of Babel; their Cooks, Gardiners, Butlers, Waiting−women, and other Servants all understood, and spoke the same Language, even old English: But now 'tis otherwise; and that which God sent for a Curse on those presumptuous Builders, is now become the distinguishing Mark of good Breeding.

How this Alteration came to pass, or when it began, I do not well know. But some say, it was in the Year when the first Colony of BUGGS planted themselves in England.

Others affirm, it was at the same time that JINN broke down the Banks of our Female Sobriety, and overflow'd the Heads of the whole Populace, so that they have been brain−sick ever since: But I am not Antiquarian enough to enter into this Dispute, much less to determine it; only thus far, if I may speak my simple Thoughts, I believe it was in Oliver's time, when the Saints and the Ungodly spoke a Dialect so different, that one might almost take it for two Languages.

But after all, Ladies, I should be very proud to find something amongst Authors, that might embelish my Dedication so as to make it suitable to your Merits, and my Book worthy your Acceptance.

I would most willingly, rifle Boileau, Racine, and hunt Scaron through all his Mazes, to find out something to deck this my Epistle, till I made it as fine as a May−day Milk−Pail, to divert you with a Dance at your Closet−doors, whilst my Crowdero −Pen, scrapes an old Tune, in fashion about threescore and six years ago; and thereby testifie that I am passionately desirous to oblige you.

Since you have been so kind to my Booksellers in favour of the SCREEN, I hope, this LINING will not meet with a less Favourable Reception from Your Fair Hands: Which will infinitely oblige

Your Devoted Servant,

Jane Barker.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/barker/jane/lining/preface.html

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