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

The Lining to the Patch−Work Screen.

Galecia one Evening setting alone in her Chamber by a clear Fire, and a clean Hearth, (two prime Ingredients towards composing the Happiness of a Winter−season) she reflected on the Providence of our All−wise and Gracious Creator, who has mercifully furnish'd every Season with its respective Comforts to sustain and delight us his poor Creatures: The Spring, for example, with its Sweets of Buds and Blossoms; the Musick of the singing Birds, which hold Concert with the whistling Plough man, committing his Seed to the Earth, in hopes of a plentiful Harvest: Next, the Summer−season, season, with its Fields cover'd over with shining Corn, and the Meadows with Hay−cocks; all inviting the industrious Farmer to come and receive the Fruits of his Annual Toil and Sollicitude. This happy Season being past, comes the Autumn, with its laden Branches, to fill the Vats with Wine and Cyder; as also the Hogsheads with well−brew'd October, to gladden the Feast when seated with Friends by good Fires, those benign Champions that defend us from the Inclemencies of Winter's Fury. Thus the Year is brought about; and tho' I have not the Society of Friends by my Fire−side (said she to her self) yet God has given me the Knowledge of Things, so far as to be able to entertain my Thoughts in this Solitude, without regret; when the Coldness of Friends, or rather the want of Riches, deprives me of their Company these long Winter−Evenings.

In these Cogitations, she cast her Eyes towards the Window, where she beheld the Full Moon, whose Brightness seemed a little to extend the extream Shortness of the Days, when Dusk calls for Candles to supply the Sun's Absence, This brought to her mind the Thoughts she had in her Childhood on this Subject: For then she had a Notion (whether taught by her Nurse, or otherwise) that the Old Moons were given to good Children to make them Silver Frocks to wear on Holidays.

As she reflected on this infant Conceit, she began to consider whether she had improv'd in her riper Years. Alas, said she to her self, what have I spoke or acted more consonant to good Morality, than this Conceit in the State of mine Innocence? For after we have pass'd this contemptible Stage of Weakness both of Mind and Body, we enter into a State of Danger and Temptation; and if by chance we escape the Snares laid to catch our heedless Youth, we then walk on in a rough Road of consuming Cares and Crosses, in which we often stumble or fall; and if we rise again, perhaps it is to meet with greater Dangers, in Sickness, Sorrows, or divers Temptations, to which we too often submit, thro' our Rashness or Inadvertency.

When the Blossom of Youth is shed, do we bring forth the Fruits of good Works? Do we relieve the Poor, any way within our Power? Do we instruct the Ignorant, comfort the Afflicted, strengthen the Doubtful, or assist the Feeble, with other Works of Mercy corporal and spiritual?

She was thus ruminating, when a Gentleman enter'd the Room, the Door being a jar. He was tall, and stood upright before her; but not speaking a word, though she look'd earnestly upon him, could not call to mind that she knew him, nor could well determine whether he was a Person or a Spectre. At last she ask'd him, who he was; but he gave her no answer. Pray, said she, tell me; if you are a Mortal, speak; still no Answer. At last, with an amazed Voice, she said, pray, tell me, who, or what you are. I am, said he, your old Friend Captain Manly: At which she was extreamly confused, to think that she had so weak an Idea of so good a Friend, as not to know him, he having been many Years absent not knowing whether it proceeded from a Change of his Person in that time, or Dimness of Sight, between Moon−shine and Fire−light. But calling for a Candle, she beg'd a thousand Pardons, engaged him to sit down, and let her know, what had so long conceal'd him from her Correspondence.

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