A Patch-Work Screen for the Ladies, by Jane Barker

A Patch-Work SCREEN FOR THE LADIES. LEAF I.

The Continuation of the History of Galesia.

The good Lady and Galesia being thus sate down to their Work, and the Trunks open'd, the first Thing they laid their Hands on, was a Piece of a Farce, which the Lady would have put by, for another Opportunity; and desired Galesia to begin where Lucasia and she broke off in St. Germains-Garden: To which Galesia readily comply'd without Hesitation.

HAVING disingag'd my Thoughts from Bosvil, said she, I had nothing to disturb my Tranquility, or hinder me from being Happy, but the Absence of my dear Brother, who was gone a second Time beyond Sea, to study at the University of Leyden, that being the Third Place where he endeavour'd to inrich his Mind; having before gathered a Treasure of Learning from those Two inexhaustible Fountains, Oxford and Paris: thereby to inable him to perform, what he shortly intended to practise, the Cure of Human Maladies; in which he began already to be known and esteemed.

It would be too tedious to give your Ladyship a Character of this excellent Man, whose Learning grac'd his natural Parts, and his vertuous Life was an Honour to his Learning. His Philosophy and Medicinal Science did not supplant Civility, but cultivated and inrich'd his natural pleasant Humour. He was in every thing a Gentleman and a Christian, so that Envy herself could not find a feeble Side whereon to plant her Batteries, to attack or deface that Esteem his Merits had rais'd in the Hearts of all that knew him; which serv'd to make me more sensible of his Absence.

However, I comforted my self with the Hopes of his Return; and in the mean time, corresponded as often as I cou'd in Writing, passing the rest of my Time in my shady Walks, Fields, and Rural Affairs. The Pleasure of which was greatly improv'd by reading Mrs. Phillips. I began to emulate her Wit, and aspir'd to imitate her Writings; in doing of which, I think, I deserv'd Arachne's Fate, or at least to be transform'd into one of the lowest of Mack-Fleckno's Followers: Her noble Genius being inimitable; especially in Praise of a Country-Life, and Contempt of human Greatness; all which I swallow'd as Draughts of rich Cordial, to enliven the Understanding. Her Poetry I found so interwoven with Vertue and Honour, that each Line was like a Ladder to climb, not only to Parnassus, but to Heaven: which I (poor Puzzle as I was!) had the Boldness to try to imitate, 'till I was dropp'd into a Labyrinth of Poetry, which has ever since interlac'd all the Actions of my Life. Amongst other Fancies, I took into my Head, to draw a Landskip in Verse, beginning with a Grove.

The GROVE.

Well might the Ancients deem a Grove to be

The sacred Mansion of some Deity;

Its pleasing Shades, and gloomy Terrors, move

Our Souls at once to pious Fears and Love:

Betwixt these Passions, rightly understood,

Lies the streight Road to everlasting Good.

Fear frights from Hell, and Love exalts to Heav'n;

Happy the Soul to whom these Two are giv'n!

Beside the Pleasure of the Present Time,

To walk and muse, describe its Sweets in Rhime;

Where nought but Peace and Innocence obtrude,

The worst that can be said of it, 'tis rude.

Yet Nature's Culture is so well express'd,

That Art herself would wish to be so dress'd.

   Lo! here the Sun conspires with ev'ry Tree,

To deck the Earth in Landskip-Tapistry:

Then thro' some Space his brightest Beams appear,

Erecting a bright golden Pillar there.

Here a close Canopy of Boughs is made;

There a soft grassy Cloth of State is spread;

With Gems and gayest Flow'rs imbroider'd o'er,

Fresh as those Beauties honest Swains adore.

Here Nature's Hand, for Health and Pleasure, sets

Cephalick Cowslips, Cordial Violets.

The cooling Diuretick Woodbine grows,

Supported by th' Scorbutick Canker-Rose.

Splenetick Columbines their Heads hang down,

As if displeas'd their Vertue should be known.

Pinks, Lillies, Daisies, Bettony, Eye bright,

To purge the Head, strengthen or clear the Sight.

Some mollify, some draw, some Ulcers clear,

Some purify, and some perfume the Air.

Of which some gentle Nymph the fairest takes,

And for her Coridon a Garland makes:

Whilst on her Lap the happy Youth's Head lies,

Gazing upon the Aspects of her Eyes;

The most unerring, best Astronomy,

Whereby to calculate his Destiny.

Whilst o'er their Heads a Pair of Turtles coo,

Which with less Constancy and Passion wooe.

The Birds around, thro' their extended Throats,

In careless Consort, chant their pleasing Notes;

Than which no sweeter Musick charms the Ear,

Except when Lovers Sighs each other hear;

Which are more soft than austral Breeses bring,

Altho' 'tis said, they're Harbingers o'th' Spring.

   Methinks, I pity much the busy Town,

To whom these Rural Pleasures are not known.

But more I pity those whom Fate inthralls,

Who can't retire when Inclination calls,

By Business, Families, and Fortune ty'd;

Beset, besieg'd, attack'd on ev'ry Side,

By Friends & Foes; Wit, Beauty, Mirth & Wine,

Piques, Parties, Policies, and Flatterers join

To storm one's Quiet, Vertue undermine.

   'Tis hard we must, the World's so vicious grown,

Be complaisant in Crimes, or live alone!

For those who now with Vertue are indu'd,

Do live alone, tho' in a Multitude.

Then fly, all ye whom Fortune don't oblige

To suffer the Distresses of a Siege;

Fly to some calm Retreat, and there retrieve

Your squander'd Time; 'Tis ne'er too late to live.

Free from all Envy, and the tiresome Noise

Of prating Fools, and Wits that ne'er were wise:

Free from Ambition, and from base Design,

Which equally our Vertue undermine,

In Plenty here, without Excess, we dine.

If we in wholsome Exercise delight,

Our Sleep becomes more sound & sweet at Night;

Or if one's Mind to Contemplation leads,

Who has the Book of God and Nature, needs

No other Object to imploy his Thought,

Since in each Leaf such Mysteries are wrought,

That whoso studies most, shall never know

Why the strait Elm's so tall, the Moss so low.

   I farther cou'd inlarge upon this Theme,

But that I'm, unawares, come to the Stream,

Which at the Bottom of this Grove doth glide:

And now I'll rest me by its flow'ry Side.

Thus, Madam, I have given you the first Taste of my Country-Poetry, which to your Ladyship (who is furnish'd with all the fine Pieces that come out) must needs be as insipid as Water-gruel to breakfast, of those that are us'd to Chocolate and rich Jellies.

It will do very well, reply'd the Lady, a Landskip in a Screen, is very agreeable; therefore let me have the rest.

The next Madam (reply'd Galesia) is the Rivulet at the Bottom of the Grove, which I try'd to mould into Pindarick: I suppose, out of Curiosity; for I neither love to read nor hear that kind of Verse. Methinks, it is to the Ear like Virginal Jacks to the Eye; being all of irregular Jumps, and Starts, sudden Disappointments, and long-expected Periods, which deprives the Mind of that Musick, wherewith the good Sense would gratify it, if in other Measures. But since your Ladyship commands, be pleas'd to take it as it is; next to Blank Verse disagreeable: (at least, to my Ear) one sort spoils good Verse, the other good Prose; whereas the regular Chime of other Verse, helps to make amends for indifferent Sense: Wherefore, fit to be courted by me; whose Fingers ought to have been imploy'd rather at the Needle and the Distaff, than to the Pen and Standish, and leave these Enterprizes to the Learned, who know how to compose all Measures, thereby to please all Palates. However, at present, I shall sacrifice this Aversion to the Obedience due to your Ladyship's Commands.

The Rivulet.

I.

Ah! lovely Stream, how fitly may'st thou be,

      By thy Immutability,

Thy gentle Motion and Perennity,

   To us the Emblem of Eternity?

      And, to us, thou dost no less

A kind of Omnipresence, too, express,

      For always at the Ocean, thou

Art ever here, and at thy Fountain too;

Always thou go'st thy proper Course,

Most willingly, and yet by Force,

Each Wave forcing its precursor on;

Yet each one freely runs, with equal haste,

As if each fear'd to be the last;

With mutual Strife, void of Con-ten-ti-on,

In Troops they march, 'till thousand, thousand's past,

   Yet, gentle Stream, art still the same,

   Always going, never gone:

   Yet do'st all Constancy disclaim,

Wildly dancing to thine own murmuring tuneful Song,

   Old as Time, as Love and Beauty young.

II.

But chiefly thou to Unity lay'st claim,

      For though in Thee

Innumerable Drops there be,

      Yet still thou art but One,

Th' Original of which, from Heav'n came;

      Whose purest Transcript we

I'th' Church may wish, but never hope to see,

   Whilst each Pretender thinks himself alone

      To be the True Church Militant:

      Nay, well it is, if such will grant,

That there is one elsewhere Triumphant.

III.

   Ah, gentle Stream! ah, happy we!

      Cou'd we but learn of thee,

As thou dost Nature, we our God obey;

      Gently rolling on our Way:

      And as we pass, like thee do good,

      Benign to all our Neighbourhood;

To God and Man, our Love and Duty pay:

Then at our Ocean we Repose shall find,

The Ocean Grave, which swallows all Mankind!

Thus, Madam, I trifled my Time, 'till the Return of my Brother from Leyden, which was to me like the Return of Spring to Northern Climes. His drooping Presence rais'd my Spirits, and dispers'd those Clouds of Sorrow gather'd in my Heart by Bosvil's Falshood. I began to delight myself in Dressing, Visiting, and other Entertainments, befitting a young Gentlewoman; nevertheless, did not omit my Study, in which my Brother continued to oblige my Fancy, and assisted me in Anatomy and Simpling, in which we took many a pleasing Walk, and gather'd many Patterns of different Plants, in order to make a large natural Herbal. I made such Progress in Anatomy, as to understand Harvey's Circulation of the Blood, and Lower's Motion of the Heart. By these and the like Imployments, I began to forget and scorn Bosvil. If I thought on him at all, it was with Contempt; and I wonder'd how it came to pass that I ever lov'd him, and thought myself secure the rest of my Days from that Weakness.

As I thus betook myself to an Amusement different from my Sex and Years, my other young Companions, began to look grave upon me; or I, perhaps, look'd so upon them. Our little Follies of telling our Dreams; laying Things under each other's Heads to dream of our Amours; counting Specks on our Nails, who should have the most Presents from Friends or Lovers; tying Knots in the Grass; pinning Flowers on our Breasts, to know the Constancy of our Pretenders; drawing Husbands in the Ashes; St. Agnes's Fast; and all such childish Auguries, were now no more any Diversion to me; so that I became an useless Member in our Rural Assemblies. My Time and Thoughts were taken up in Harvey, Willis, and such-like Authors, which my Brother help'd me to understand and relish, which otherwise might have seemed harsh or insipid: And these serv'd to make me unfit Company for every body; for the Unlearned fear'd, and the Learned scorn'd my Conversation; at least, I fancy'd so: A Learned Woman, being at best but like a Forc'd-Plant, that never has its due or proper Relish, but is wither'd by the first Blast that Envy or Tribulation blows over her Endeavours. Whereas every Thing, in its proper Place and Season, is graceful, beneficial, and pleasant. However, my dear Brother humouring my Fancy, I pass'd my Time in great Satisfaction. His Company was my Recreation, and his wise Documents my Instruction; even his Reproofs were but as a poignant Sauce, to render his good Morals the more savoury, and easier digested. Thus we walk'd and talk'd; we laugh'd and delighted our-selves; we dress'd and visited; we received our Friends kindly, and by them were generously treated in their turn: all which was to the Satisfaction of our endearing tender Parents. But, alas! short was the Continuance of this Happiness; for my dear Brother died. And now, Madam, forgive these flowing Tears, which interrupt my Discourse.

Galesia having discharg'd a Torrent of Tears, the usual Effect of any Discourse for so great a Loss, she endeavoured to compose her self, dry'd her Eyes, and return'd to her Story.

This, Madam, was such a Grief as I had never felt; for though I had suffer'd much in the Transactions of Bosvil; yet those Sorrows were allay'd, in some degree, by the Mixture of other Passions, as Hope, Fear, Anger, Scorn, Revenge, & c. But this was Grief in Abstract, Sorrow in pure Element. I griev'd without ceasing; my Sighs alternatively blew up my Tears, and my Tears allay'd my Sighs, 'till fresh Reflections rais'd new Gusts of Sorrow. My Solitude was fill'd with perpetual Thoughts of Him; and Company was entertain'd with nothing but Discourses of this my irreparable Loss. My sleeping, as well as waking Hours, were fill'd with Ideas of him! Sometimes I dream'd I saw his Ghost, come to visit me from the other World; sometimes I thought I assisted him in his Sickness; sometimes attending at his Funeral; then awake in a Flood of Tears; when, waking, I cou'd form no Thought or Idea, but what Grief suggested. In my Walks and Studies, it was still the same, the Remembrance of some wise Documents, or witty Entertainment, roused up my Grief, by reflecting on my great Loss. No Book or Paper cou'd I turn over, but I found Memorandums of his Wisdom and Learning, which served to continue and augment my Grief; and so far transported me sometimes, that I even wish'd for that which is the Horror of Nature, that I might see his Ghost. I experienced what the Philosophers assert, That much reflecting on Death, is the way to make it less terrible; and 'tis certain, I reflected so much on his, that I wish'd for nothing more; wish'd to be with him; wish'd to be in that happy State, in which I assur'd my self his Vertues had plac'd him. But in vain I wish'd for Death; I was ordain'd to struggle with the Difficulties of Life; which were to be many, as I have since experienced; Heaven having taken away from me, Him, who seem'd by Nature ordain'd to conduct me through the Labyrinth of this World, when the Course of Nature should take my dear indulgent Parents from me, to their Repose in Elysium. And now, instead of being a Comfort to them in this their great Affliction, my Griefs added Weight to theirs, such as they could hardly sustain.

I read those Books he had most studied, where I often found his Hand-writing, by way of Remarks, which always caus'd a new Flux of Tears. I often call'd upon Death; but Death was deaf, or his Malice otherwise imploy'd on more worthy Prey; leaving me a useless Wretch; useless to the World; useless to my Friends, and a Burden to myself: Whilst he that was necessary to his Friends, an Honour to his Profession, and beneficial to Mankind, (but chiefly to me) the Tyrant Death had seiz'd and convey'd away for ever! — O that Word Ever! that Thought Ever! The Reflection of Ever and Never, devour'd all that cou'd be agreeable or pleasing to me: Ever to want his wise Instructions! Never to injoy his flowing Wit! Ever to regret this my irreparable Loss! Never to have his dear Company in my shady Walks! This Ever and Never, star'd in my Thoughts like Things with Saucer-Eyes in the Dark, serving to fright me from all Hopes of Happiness in this World.

In these and the like anxious and melancholy Amusements, I pass'd my woeful Days, 'till Length of Time, which changes and devours all Things, began a little to abate my Grief, and the Muses began to steal again into my Breast; and having, as I said before, affected to study those Books, on which I had seen my Brother most intent, I at last resolv'd to begin with a Body of Anatomy, and between whiles, to reduce it into Verse: Perhaps, reflecting on what is said of Ovid, that he writ Law in Verse: And Physick being as little reducible to that Softness as Law, I know not what Emulation or Fancy excited me; but thus I began:

An Invocation of her Muse.

Come, gentle Muse! assist me now,

A double Wreath plait for my Brow,

Of Poetry and Physick too. Teach me in Numbers to rehearse

Hard Terms of Art, in smooth, soft Verse,

And how we grow, and how decrease. Teach me to sing Apollo's Sons,

The Ancient and the Modern-ones,

And sing their Praise in gentle Tones. But chiefly sing those Sons of Art,

Which teach the Motion of the Heart,

Nerves, Spirits, Brains, and every Part.

ANATOMY.

Now Bartholine, the first of all this Row,

Does to me Nature's Architecture show;

How the Foundation, first, of Earth is laid;

Then, how the Pillars of Strong-Bones are made.

The Walls consist of Carneous-Parts within,

The Out-side pinguid, overlay'd with Skin;

The Fret-work, Muscles, Arteries and Veins,

With their Implexures; and how from the Brains

The Nerves descend; and how 'tis they dispense

To every Member Motive-Power, and Sense.

He shews the Windows in this Structure fix'd,

How trebly glaz'd, and Curtains drawn betwixt

Them & Earth's Objects: All which prove in vain

To keep out Lust, or Innocence retain.

For 'twas the Eye, that first discern'd the Food,

As pleasing to itself, for eating good,

Then was persuaded, that it wou'd refine

The half-wise Soul, and make it all Divine.

But O how dearly Wisdom's bought with Sin,

Which shuts out Grace; lets Death & Darkness in.

And 'cause our Sex precipitated first,

To Pains, and Ignorance we since are curs'd.

Desire of Knowledge, cost us very dear;

For Ignorance, e'er since, became our Share.

   But as I was inlarging on this Theme,

Willis and Harvey bid me follow them.

   They brought me to the a first & largest Court

Of all this Building, where, as to a Port,

All Necessaries are brought from afar,

For Susentation, both in Peace and War.

For War b this Common-wealth, doth oft insest,

Which pillages one Part, and storms the rest.

   We view'd the Kitchen call'd Ventriculus;

Then pass'd we through the Space call'd Pylorus;

And to the Dining-Room we came at last,

Where the Lacteals take their sweet Repast.

From thence we thro' a Drawing-room did pass,

And came where Jecur very busie was:

c Sanguificating the whole Mass of Chyle,

And severing the Crural Parts from Bile:

And when she's made it tolerably good,

She pours it forth to mix with other Blood.

This & much more we saw; from thence we went

Into the d next Court by a small Ascent.

Bless me! said I; what Rarities are here!

A e Fountain like a Furnace did appear,

Still boiling o'er, and running out so fast,

That one wou'd think its Eflux, cou'd not last:

Yet it sustain'd no Loss, as I cou'd see,

Which made me think it a strange Prodigy.

Come on, says Harvey, don't stand gazing here,

But follow me, and I thy Doubts will clear.

   Then we began our Journey with the Blood,

Trac'd the Meanders of its Purple Flood.

Thus we thro' many Labyrinths did pass,

In such, I am sure, old Dædalus ne'er was.

Sometimes ith' Out-works, sometimes the First-Court,

Sometimes i'th' Third these winding Streams would sport.

Such Rarities we found in this Third Place,

As put ev'n Comprehension to disgrace.

Here's Cavities, said one; And here, says He,

Is th' Seat of Fancy, Judgment, Memory.

Here, says another, is the fertile Womb,

From whence the Spirits-Animal do come:

Which are mysteriously ingender'd here,

Of Spirits, from arterial Blood and Air.

Here, says a third, Life made her first approach,

Moving the Wheels of her triumphant Coach.

But Harvey that Hypothesis deny'd,

Say'ng 'twas the Deaf-Ear on the Dexter-side.

Then there arose a trivial small Dispute,

Which he by Fact and Reason did confute.

This being ended, we began again

Our former Progress, and forsook the Brain;

And after some small Traverses about,

Came to the Place where we before set out:

Then I perceiv'd, how Harvey all made good,

By th' Circles of the Circulating Blood,

As Fountains have their Water from the Sea,

To which again they do themselves convey.

And here we found great Lower, with much Art,

Surveying the whole Structure of the Heart.

Welcome said he, dear Cousin! Are you here?

Sister to Him, whose Worth we all revere:

But ah, alas! So short was his Life's Date,

As makes us since, almost, our Practice hate;

Since we cou'd find out nought in all our Art,

That cou'd prolong the Motion of his Heart.

This latter Line, Madam, was, and is, and ever will be, my great Affliction. So dear a Friend, shining with such Brightness of Parts, cut off in his Bloom! Ah Me! I cannot think or speak of him without weeping; which if I did not in abundance, I shou'd not be just to his Memory; I shou'd be unworthy of that Fraternal Love he express'd to me on all Occasions; so that it is fit I should weep on all Occasions; especially when I reflect how much I want him in every Circumstance of Life. The only Comfort I have, is, when I think on the Happiness he enjoys by Divine Vision; All Learning and Science, All Arts, and Depths of Philosophy, without Search or Study; whilst we in this World, with much Labour, are gropeing, as it were, in the Dark, and make Discoveries of our own Ignorance. Which Thoughts wou'd sometimes fold themselves in these or the like Words.

I.

Thou know'st, my Dear, now, more than Art can!

Thou know'st the Essence of the Soul of Man!

And of its Maker too, whose powerful Breath

Gave Immortality to sordid Earth!

   What Joys, my Dear, do Thee surround,

   As no where else are to be found?

   Love, Musick, Physick, Poetry,

   Mechanicks, grave Philosophy;

And in each Art, each Artist does abound;

Whilst All's converted to Divinity.

   No drooping Autumn there,

   Nor chilling Winter, does appear;

   Nor scorching Heat, nor budding Spring,

   Nor Sun does Seasons there divide;

Yet all Things do transcend their native Pride;

   Which fills, but does not nauseate;

   No Change nor Want of any Thing,

Which Time to Periods, or Perfections, bring.

   But yet Diversity of State,

And Soul's Felicity There has no Date.

II.

Shou'dst Thou, my Dear, look down on us below,

   To see how busie we

   Are in Anatomy,

Thou woud'st despise our Ignorance,

Who most Things miss, and others hit by chance,

For we, at best, do but in Twilight go:

Whilst Thou see'st all by most transcendant Light;

Compar'd to which, the Sun's bright Rays are Night.

   Yet so Celestial are thine Eyes,

That Light can neither dazle nor surprize;

   For all Things There

   Most perfect are,

And freely their bless'd Quality dispense,

Without the Mixture of Terrestrial Dross,

   Or without Hazard, Harm or Loss.

   O Joys eternal, satiating Sense!

And yet the Sense, the smallest Part ingross!

Thus, Madam, my worthless Muse help'd me to discharge my Griefs. The writing them in this my lonely State, was like discoursing, or disburthening one's Heart to a Friend. Whether your Ladyship will like to have them plac'd in your Screen, you yourself must determine.

By all means, reply'd the Lady, these melancholy dark Patches, set off the light Colours; making the Mixture the more agreeable. I like them all so well, I will not have One lay'd aside. Therefore, pray, go on with your Story.

Madam, said Galesia, It was at this Time, that I had a Kinsman a Student at the University; who at certain Times, frequented our House; and now and then brought some of his young Companions with him; whose youthful and witty Conversation, greatly help'd to divert my Chagrin. Amongst these vertuous young Gentlemen, there was one, whose Merit ingaged my particular Esteem, and the Compassion he had for my Griefs, planted a Friendship, which I have ever since cultivated with my best Endeavours. When he was thus become my Friend, I unbosom'd my self to him, acquainted him with the Story of Bosvil, not concealing the least Weakness in all that Transaction, which was an Indiscretion I can hardly forgive my self; and I doubt not, but I shall stand condemn'd in your Ladyship's Judgment: For a young Gentleman is certainly a very unfit Confidant of a young Gentlewoman's Amours: The best she can expect from such a Discovery, is his Pity, which is one Step towards Contempt; and that is but a poor sort of Consolation, or Return of that Confidence she reposes. However, his generous Soul, gave it another Turn; and instead of despising my Foible, valued my Frankness, and abhorr'd Bosvil's Unworthiness, continuing to divert me with his Wit, whist my Kinsman and he joyn'd to consolate me with repeated Proofs of their Friendship; all which my dear Parents approv'd; and promoted their Visits to our House by a generous and kind Reception at our Country Retreat; where they came now and then, a little to relax their College Discipline, and unbend the Streightness of their Study; bringing with them little Books, new Pamphlets, and Songs; and in their Absence, convers'd with me by Writing; sometimes Verse, sometimes Prose, which ingaged my Replies in the same manner. And here, amongst these Papers, appear several of them; out of which, perhaps, your Ladyship may chuse some Patches for your Screen.

An Invitation to my Learned Friends at Cambridge.

If, Friends, you wou'd but now this Place accost,

E'er the Young Spring that Epithet has lost,

And of my Rural Joys participate,

You'd change your learn'd Harangues for Country Chat,

And thus with me salute this lonely State:

Hail Solitude! where Peace and Vertue shroud

Their unvail'd Beauties, from the censuring Croud;

Let us but have their Company, and we

Shall never envy this World's Gallantry.

Tho' to few Objects here we are confin'd,

Yet we have full Inlargement of the Mind.

From varying Modes, which oft our Minds inslave,

Lo! here, a full Immunity we have:

For here's no Pride, but in the Sun's bright Beams,

Nor murmuring, but in the Crystal-Streams.

No Avarice, but in the hoarding Bees,

Nor is Ambition found, but in the Trees.

No Emulations ever interpose,

Except betwixt the Tulip and the Rose.

No Wantonness, but in the frisking Lambs;

Nor Luxury, but when they suck their Dams.

No politick Contrivances of State,

Only each Bird contrives to please its Mate.

No Shepherd here of scornful Nymph complains,

Nor are the Nymphs undone by faithless Swains.

Narcissus only, is that sullen He,

That can despise his amorous, talking She.

But all Things here, conspire to make us bless'd;

Whilst true Content is Musick to the Feast.

   Then hail sweet Solitude! all hail again,

All hail to every Field, and Wood, and Plain;

To every beauteous Nymph, and faithful Swain.

Then join with me; come, join with me, and give

This Salutation; or at least believe,

'Tis such a kind of Solitude, as yet

Romance ne'er found where happy Lovers met.

Yea, such a kind of Solitude it is,

Not much unlike to that of Paradise;

Where Nature does her choicest Goods dispense,

And I, too, here, am plac'd in Innocence.

I should conclude that such it really were,

But that the Tree of Knowledge won't grow here.

Though in its Culture I have spent some Time,

Yet it disdains to grow in our cold Clime,

Where it can neither Fruit nor Leaves produce,

Good for its Owner, or the publick Use.

Whilst God and Nature for You constitute,

Luxurious Banquets of this dainty Fruit.

Whose Tree most fresh and flourishing is found,

E'er since 'twas planted in your fertile Ground.

Whilst you in Wit, grow, as its Branches, high,

Deep as its Root, too, in Philosophy.

Large as its spreading Arms, your Reasons show;

Close as its Shade, your well-knit Judgments grow;

Fresh as its Leaves, your sprouting Fancies are;

Your Vertues like its Fruit, are bright and fair.

This my Invitation they all accepted, plain and innocent as it was, like those Cates, wherewith they were treated; for we search'd not Air, Earth, and Water to gratify our Palates with Dainties, nor ravag'd Spain, France, and the Indies, for Diversity of Liquors: Our own Product, in a cleanly wholsome manner, contented our Appetites; such as serv'd the Conveniency of Life, not superfluous Luxury. Our Correspondence was of the same Piece, vertuous and innocent: No Flear or Grimace tending to Lewdness, or cunning Artifice, out of the Way of Rural Simplicity: But pure and candid, such as might be amongst the Celestial Inhabitants. In this manner it was, that these vertuous Youths relieved my Solitude, and, in some Degree, dissipated that Melancholy wherewith I was oppress'd: And in their Absence (as I said before) visited me with Letters, and little Presents of the newest Pieces of Diversion that came to their Hands. And some of them having complimented me with an Epistle, I wrote the following Answer.

To my Young Lover.

In cautious Youth! why dost thou so misplace

Thy fine Encomiums, on an o'er-blown Face?

Which after all the Varnish of thy Quill,

Defects and Wrinkles shew conspicuous still;

Nor is it in the Power of Youth, to move

An age-chill'd Heart, to any Strokes of Love.

Then chuse some budding Beauty, which in Time,

May crown thy Wishes, in thy blooming Prime.

For nought can make a more prepost'rous Show,

Than April Flow'rs, stuck on St. Michael's Bough

To consecrate thy first-born Sighs to me,

A super-annuated Deity,

Makes that Idolatry and deadly Sin,

Which otherwise had only venial been.

This, and some other such, obtain'd of them a friendly Rebuke, for making my self Old, when I was but little more than Twenty. The Truth is, I believe Grief made me think the Time tedious, every Day of Sorrow seeming a Year; insomuch that, according to that Account, I was as old as the Patriarchs before the Flood. I believe it is in this as in other things; we judge according to our Passions, and imagine others should do the same. The fearful Man thinks he sees Spirits, Thieves, and Murderers: The angry Man, if he sees a Straw lie in his Way, believes his Enemy laid it to affront him: The jealous Man mistrusts, and misconstrues even his Wife's Kindness and Caresses: And so it is on all Occasions of Passion and Fancy. So that when I was out of my Teens, I thought all the Days of Youth were past, and those that could write Twenty, ought to lay all Things youthful and gay aside. But it seems these my young Friends were not of the same Sentiment; but treated me in their eloquent Letters and poetical Epistles, like a very young and beautiful Lady, equal in Years to themselves. Which caus'd me to make this following Reply to one of their Epistles.

To praise, sweet Youth, do thou forbear,

   Where there is no Desert;

For, alas! Encomiums here,

   Are Jewels thrown i'th' Dirt. For I no more deserve Applause,

   Now Youth and Beauty's fled,

Than does a Tulip or a Rose,

   When its fair Leaves are shed. Howe'er, I wish thy Praises may,

   Like Prayers to Heaven borne,

When holy Souls, for Sinners pray,

   Upon Thy-self return.

These, Madam, were the little Adventures of my Country Life; not fit Entertainments for your Ladyship, but that your Commands stamp the Character, and make current the meanest Metal, and render that acceptable, which otherwise would hardly be excusable. The Compassion your Ladyship seem'd to have for my Griefs, encourag'd me to let you know by what Steps I climbed out of the deepest Gulph of Sorrow; and how this my mournful Tragedy was chang'd into a kind of innocent Pastoral; as appears by the Ballad I sent to these my young Friends to Sturbridge-Fair.

A BALLAD.
By Way of Dialogue between Two Shepherd-Boys.

FIRST BOY.

I Wonder what Alexis ails,

   To sigh and talk of Darts;

Of Charms which o'er his Soul prevails,

   Of Flames and bleeding Hearts.

I saw him Yesterday alone,

   Walk crossing of his Arms;

And Cuckow-like, was in a Tone,

   Ah, Celia! ah, thy Charms!

SECOND BOY.

Why, sure thou'rt not so ignorant,

   As thou wou'd'st seem to be:

Alas! the Cause of his Complaint,

   Is all our Destiny.

'Tis mighty Love's all-pow'rful Bow,

   Which has Alexis hit;

A powerful Shaft will hit us too,

   E'er we're aware of it.

FIRST BOY.

Why, Love! — Alas! I little thought

   There had been such a Thing;

But that for Rhime it had been brought,

   When Shepherds us'd to sing.

And, sure, whate'er they talk of Love,

   'Tis but Conceit at most;

As Fear i'th' Dark our Fancies move

   To think we see a Ghost.

SECOND BOY.

I know not; but the other Day,

   A wanton Girl there were,

Which took my Stock-Dove's Eggs away,

   And Black-bird's Nest did tear.

Had it been Thee, my dearest Boy,

   Revenge I should have took;

But She my Anger did destroy,

   By the Sweetness of her Look.

FIRST BOY.

So t'other Day, a wanton Slut,

   As I slept on the Ground,

A Frog into my Bosom put,

   My Hands and Feet she bound:

She hung my Hook upon a Tree;

   Then, laughing bid me wake;

And though she thus abused me,

   Revenge I cannot take.

CHORUS.

Let's wish these Overtures of Fate,

   Don't luckless Omens prove;

For those who lose the Power to Hate,

   Are soon made Slaves to Love.

The young Gentlemen receiv'd it kindly, and return'd me Thanks in these Words.

Dear Galesia,
We all return you Thanks for your Ballad; to which our Friend Sam Setwell, put a Tune, and we sung it in a Booth merrily, 'till the Proctor had like to have spoil'd the Harmony. But he finding no Female amongst us, drank the innocent Author's Health, and departed. The whole Chorus salute you, with the Assurance of being

Your Humble Servants.

This Conversation, and Correspondence, Madam, infused into me some Thoughts, befitting my Sex and Years, rendering me fit for Company, and to live like the rest of my Fellow-Creatures; so that being one Day where there was a young Gentleman, who did not think me so much a Stoick as I thought myself, he so far lik'd my Person and Humour, that altho' he had been a very loose Liver, he began to think he could endure to put on Shackles, and be confin'd to one: But being perfectly a Stranger, and knowing not well how to introduce himself into my farther Acquaintance, he took this odd Method.

There was a certain Gossip in those Parts, that used to go between the Ladies and Gentlewomen, with Services, and How-d'ye's; always carrying with her the little prattling News of Transactions where she frequented. This Woman coming to our House, was receiv'd with a good Mien, and the best Chear our Larder would afford, which was my Office to perform. She took the Opportunity to tell me, that her coming at that Time was particularly to Me, from Mr. Bellair, who had seen me the other Day at such a Place, since which time he had had no Repose, nor none could have, 'till I gave him Leave to make me a Visit, which he begg'd most earnestly. To which I reply'd, That though Mr. Bellair had seen me, he was perfectly a Stranger to me, otherwise he had not sent such a Message; he knowing that I lived in my Father's House, not in my own; therefore had no right to invite or receive any-body unknown to my Parents, much less young Gentlemen; that being an Irregularity misbecoming my Sex and Station, and the Character of a dutiful Daughter: This I desir'd her to tell him, with my Service; which Answer I utter'd with a little Sharpness, that the Woman could not but see her Errand was disobliging, as it was, and ought to be; such a Message looking more like a dishonourable Intrigue, than an Address to a vertuous Maiden-Gentlewoman. The Truth is, I always had an Aversion to those secret Addresses, as all vertuous Maids ought, and was resolved as carefully to avoid them as Mariners do Rocks; for 'tis certain, that Parents are naturally willing to promote their Childrens Happiness; and therefore, that Lover who desires to keep the Parents in the Dark, is conscious to himself of something that has need to shun the Light; for his Concealing his Pretentions from the Mother, looks as if he meant an unworthy Conquest on the Daughter; and especially those of Mr. Bellair's Character.

However, I mistook my young Gentleman, his Intentions being more sincere than I expected: For upon that Answer to my Gossip, he took the first Occasion to discover his Sentiments to his Father; who did not only approve, but rejoyced there at, hoping that he was in a Disposition to reclaim himself from his loose Way of Living; and that the Company of a Wife, and Care of a Family, wou'd totally wean him from those wild Companions, in whom he too much delighted: Not but that his Father had divers times offered, and earnestly persuaded him, to dispose himself for a Married Life, having no Son but him, to inherit his Riches, and continue his Family. To which the young Man was ever averse; counting Marriage as Fetters and Shackles, a Confinement not to be borne by the Young and the Witty; a Wife being suppos'd to be the Destruction of all Pleasure and good Humour, and a Death to all the Felicities of Life; only good in the Declension of Years, when Coughs and Aches oblige a Man to his own Fire-side: then a Nurse is a most necessary Utensil in a House. These and the like, us'd to be the wild Notions, wherewith he oppos'd his Father's indulgent Care, whenever he went about to provide for his happy Establishment: So the good old Gentleman was overjoy'd at his Son's own Proposal, and took the first Opportunity with my Father, over a Bottle, to deliver his Son's Errand. To which my Father answer'd, like a plain Country Gentleman, as he was (who never gilded his Actions with fraudulent Words, nor painted his Words with deceitful or double Meanings;) and told him, "That he was very sensible of the Honour he did him in this Proposal; but that he cou'd not make his Daughter a Fortune suitable to his Estate: For, continued he, that becoming Way in which we live, is more the Effect of prudent Management, than any real Existence of Riches." To which the old Gentleman reply'd, "That Riches were not what he sought in a Wife for his Son; Fortune having been so propitious to him, that he needed not to make that his greatest Care: A prudent, vertuous Woman, was what he most aim'd at, in his Son's Espousals, hoping that such an one, would reclaim and wean him from all those wild Excursions to which Youth and Ill-Company had drawn him, to his great Affliction. But, methinks, continu'd he, I spy a Dawn of Reformation in the Choice he has made of your Daughter; who, amongst all the young Gentlewomen of these Parts, I value, she having a distinguishing Character for Prudence and Vertue, capable to command Respect and Esteem from all the World; as well as does her amiable Person ingage my Son's Affections. Wherefore, said he, I hope you will not refuse your Concurrence, thereby to make my Son happy." My Father making him a grateful Acknowledgment, told him, "He wou'd propose it to my Mother and me; and added, That his Daughter having been always dutiful and tenderly observant, he resolv'd to be indulgent, and impose nothing contrary to her Inclinations. Her Mother also, continu'd he, has been a Person of that Prudence and Vertue, that I should not render the Justice due to her Merit, if I did any thing of this kind, without her Approbation."

This my Father related to me, with an Air full of Kindness, telling me, That he wou'd leave the Affair wholly to my Determination; adding, That there was an Estate, full Coffers, and a brisk young Gentleman; So that I think (said he) I need say no more to a Person of common Sense, to comply with what is so advantageous.

To which I reply'd, "That these or any of these, were above my Desert; and your Recommendations, Sir, redouble the Value; upon whose Wisdom and paternal Care I ought wholly to depend: But his particular loose Way of Living, I hope will justify me, when I lay that before you, as a Cause of Hesitation." To which my Mother reply'd, "That it must be my Part, with Mildness and Sweetness, to reclaim him: That he having now sow'd his wild Oats, (according to the Proverb) wou'd see his Folly; and finding there is nothing to be reap'd but Noise, Vanity, and Disgrace, in all Probability, wou'd apply himself to another Way of Living; especially having made the Proposal to his Father of settling with a Person of his own choosing, where no Interest nor Family-Necessity had any Hand in the Election."

These and the like Discourses and Considerations, pass'd among us; we having his Father's serious Proposal for our Foundation; which, join'd with the Message he himself had sent me by the Gossip, we had Reason to believe the Superstructure would not be defective.

Nevertheless, though I was but an innocent Country Girl, yet I was not so ignorant of the World, but to know or believe, that often those Beau Rakes, have the Cunning and Assurance to make Parents on both sides, Steps to their Childrens Disgrace, if not Ruin: For very often, good Country Ladies, who reflect not on the Vileness of the World, permit their Daughters to give private Audiences, to their Lovers, in some obscure Arbour or distant Drawing-room; where the Spark has Opportunity to misbehave himself to the Lady; which, if she resent, there is a ready Conveniency for him to bespatter her with Scandal. And I did not know but Bellair might have some such thing in his Thoughts, out of Malice for my having rejected his Intrigue by the Gossip. For I could not fancy my-self endow'd with Charms sufficient to hold fast such a Volage; however, I knew my self safe under my Mother's Prudence, and my own Resolution.

And thus I expected my pretended Lover some Days; But instead of his personal Appearance, News came, That he was taken in a Robbery on the High-way, and committed to the County-Gaol: And all this out of a Frolick; for tho' he had all Things necessary, both for Conveniency and Diversion, nevertheless, this detestable Frolick must needs be put in Practice, with some of his lewd Companions; for which at the next Assizes, he receiv'd the Reward of his Crimes at the Place of publick Execution.

I have told you this Transaction, that your Ladyship may not be ignorant of any thing that appertains to me, though this was an Affair utterly unknown to all the World; I mean his Proposal of Marriage; nor does any of my Poems take the least Notice, or give any Hint of it; for there was no Progress made by any personal Correspondence, nor can I persuade my-self he meant any thing but Mischief.

I cou'd recount to your Ladyship another Story or two of odd Disappointments; but, they will take up too great a Place in your Screen, and render the View disagreeable.

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