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

To the Reader.

My Two former Volumes of Novels having met with a favourable Reception, (much beyond their Desert) encourages me to perform my Promise in pursuing The Sequel of Galesia's Story.

But I doubt my Reader will say, Why so long about it? And why a History reduc'd into Patches? especially since Histories at Large are so Fashionable in this Age; viz. Robinson Crusoe, and Moll Flanders; Colonel Jack, and Sally Salisbury; with many other Heroes and Heroines? Why, truly, as to the First, I had lost my Galesia, she being gone from St. Germains, and I retir'd into an obscure Corner of the World. As to the Second, you'll find in the following Pages, by what Steps and Means it was framed into this Method. And now, having given you this Account, I think I ought to say something in Favour of Patch-Work, the better to recommend it to my Female Readers, as well in their Discourse, as their Needle-Work: Which I might do with Justice, if my Genius were capable: But indeed, I am not much of an Historian; but in the little I have read, I do not remember any thing recorded relating to Patch-Work, since the Patriarch Joseph, (whose Garment was of sundry Colours) by which means it has not been common in all Ages; and 'tis certain, the Uncommonness of any Fashion, renders it acceptable to the Ladies.

And I do not know but this may have been the chief Reason why our Ladies, in this latter Age, have pleas'd themselves with this sort of Entertainment; for, whenever one sees a Set of Ladies together, their Sentiments are as differently mix'd as the Patches in their Work: To wit, Whigs and Tories, High-Church and Low-Church, Jacobites and Williamites, and many more Distinctions, which they divide and sub-divide, 'till at last they make this Dis-union meet in an harmonious Tea-Table Entertainment. This puts me in mind of what I have heard some Philosophers assert, about the Clashing of Atoms, which at last united to compose this glorious Fabrick of the Universe.

Forgive me, kind Reader, for carrying the Metaphor too high; by which means I am out of my Sphere, and so can say nothing of the Male Patch-Workers; for my high Flight in Favour of the Ladies, made a mere Icarus of me, melted my Wings, and tumbled me Headlong down, I know not where. Nevertheless my Fall was amongst a joyful Throng of People of all Ages, Sexes, and Conditions! who were rejoycing at a wonderful Piece of Patch-Work they had in Hand; the Nature of which was such, as was to compose (as it were) a New Creation, where all Sorts of People were to be Happy, as if they had never been the Off-spring of fallen Adam.

I was greatly rejoyc'd at this my Fall, when I found my self amongst these happy Undertakers, and hop'd to unite my-self in their Confraternity; but they finding some Manuscript Ballads in my Pocket, rejected me as one of that Race of Mortals who live on a certain barren Mountain 'till they are turn'd into Camelions; so I was forc'd to get away, every one hunching and pushing me, with Scorn and Derision. However, as the Sequel prov'd, I had no small Reason to rejoice at being thus used; for soon after, their Patch-Work Scheme, by carrying the Point too high, was blown up about their Ears, and vanish'd into Smoke and Confusion; to the utter Ruin of many Thousands of the Unhappy Creatures therein concern'd.

When I was got out of this Throng into the open Field, I met with the poor Galesia, walking to stretch her Legs, having been long sitting at her Work. With her I renew'd my Old Acquaintance; and so came to know all this Story of her Patch-Work: Which if you like, I will get the remaining Part of the Screen; for they are still at Work: And, upon my Word, I am glad to find the Ladies of This Age, wiser than Those of the Former; when the working of Point and curious Embroidery, was so troublesome, that they cou'd not take Snuff in Repose, for fear of soiling their Work: But in Patch-Work there is no Harm done; a smear'd Finger does but add a Spot to a Patch, or a Shade to a Light-Colour: Besides, those curious Works were pernicious to the Eyes; they cou'd not see the Danger themselves and their Posterity might be in, a Thousand Years hence, about I know not what — But I will inquire against the next Edition; therefore, be sure to buy these Patches up quickly, if you intend to know the Secret; thereby you'll greatly oblige the Bookseller, and, in some degree, the Author. Who is,

Your humble Servant,
Jane Barker.

RICHMOND,
Candlemas-Day,
1722-23.

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

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