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

The History of Dorinda.

You know,Madam, that our narrow Circumstances at St. Germain's taught us a regular Way of living; that our Evening Bottle did not prevent our Morning Breakfast, nor Cynthia encroach upon Phoebus; but an early Couchécaus'd an early Levé; that we had full time enough in the Morning to pay our Duty to God in his Church, and the King in his Chamber. After this, a Walk on the Terras got us a Friend and a Stomach, to repair to the Coffee−house, and over a Dish of Tea hear or make News. My Person and my Pocket being accustomed to this way of living, I lik'd it so well, that I believe, I shall never desire to change, tho' I am now in a Country where another method is practised.

Thus, being got up early one Morning I took a Walk in the Park near Rosamond Pond; after which, I sat down a while, ruminating on divers Occurrences in Europe, which will fill the History of future times with amazing Truths; and casting my Eyes towards the Pond, I saw a fine−shap'd Gentlewoman walking close by the Pond's side, very much dagled with the frosty Dew of the Morning. She seemed very melancholy, sometimes sighing, sometimes weeping, now lifting up her Hands and Eyes to Heaven, then casting them towards the Pond; at last, all on a sudden, she leaped into the Water, and had certainly perished, had not I been there: For depending upon mine ability in swimming, I leap'd in, and truly, not without difficulty and danger, got her out. I then called to some Soldiers I saw at a distance, and by their help brought her to a Seat, where she came to her self; but would not be persuaded to tell who she was, or where she lived, or whither she would go: So I got a Chair, and carried her to my Lodgings; where, with much ado, I prevailed with my Landlady to receive her. She put her into a warm Bed, got a Nurse to rub and chase, and a Surgeon to bleed her, and use all other Applications suitable to her Condition. When the Hurry was a little over, I went into her Room to comfort, and to get out of her the Cause of this desperate Transaction. She being thoroughly come to her self, washed and dressed in clear dry Head−cloaths, I thought I had seen her some where; and at last called to mind where; and asked her if her Name was not Dorinda? yes, yes, said she, it was by that sham Name you formerly picked me up at the Play; and tho' Time and Fatigue has altered you, yet I remember your Features perfectly well; It was such Romantick Whimsies that brought upon me the Ruin and Distress in which you behold me; I had read Plays, Novels, and Romances, till I began to think my self a Heroine of the first rate; and all Men that flatter'd, or ogled, me were Heroes; and that a pretty well−behaved Foot−man or Page must needs be the Son of some Lord or great Gentleman.

I affected to seek Adventures of divers sorts; amongst the rest, I went mask'd and unaccompanied to the Play−house; where you pick'd me up carried me to a Tavern gave me a handsome Treat; and I pleas'd my self to think how you would be baulk'd when you should pretend to any Favour out of the Road of common Honesty; as you know you were. After this I met you again in Convent−Garden Square; then on Tower−hill; And thus I rambled, hoping all the while you would court me for Marriage; which indeed, was great Folly in me to expect, in the midst of such Behaviour; But when it came out that you was a married Man, you may remember that I abandoned all Commerce with you; For amongst all my Freaks and romantick Frolicks, I preserved my self from the great Offence; But that is not enough; one must remember the common Saying,

Those that will no evil do,
Must do nothing tends thereto.

For such conduct as mine, was as dishonourable in the Eyes of the World, as if one was a downright Prostitute; and not only dishonourable, but ridiculous; for it is according to the saying of a Poet,

Dye with the Scandal of a Whore,
And never know the Joy.

Now, though I broke of your Company, yet I could not on a sudden detatch my Heart from the thoughts of you; but the Revolution came on, and your Devoirs calling you to follow the King, Time and Absence help'd me to overcome my Folly and I became more sedate, so as not to ramble alone to Plays, nor to be seen in Places unfit for a young Gentlewoman; nevertheless, a Romantick Humour hung long upon me, that if any worthy Country−Gentleman made his Addresses to me, I set him in the rank of Justice Clod−pate, or Justice Calf in those Comedies, and fancy'd their spruce young Footman some Prince or Hero in disguise, like Dorus in Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia. But notwithstanding my having blotted my Reputation, and render'd my self ridiculous, by these foolish Whims; I say, notwithstanding all this, a neighbouring Gentleman of an Estate made his Addresses to me; to which I consented, and Writings were to be drawn. I told him, that such a Footman of mine must be provided for, by my Father's order at his Death; to which he readily consented, and said, he should be put to some honest Trade whereby to get his Living. But I told him no; for Trades might fail, and therefore I resolved to have an hundred Pounds a Year settled on him. The Gentleman was disgusted at this Proposal (as very well he might) and for the future visited me no more. After this, my Favourite Footman lighting me one Evening up Stairs, in a Freak caught him by the Arm, and said, Jack, I am in love with you; and in a gigling way, said, I will marry you, thinking Jack would have been out of countenance, scratched his Head, grin'd and looked like an Idiot; But truly, quite the contrary; He brisked up, and kissed me, saying, he liked me so well, that I should not need to ask twice. I was shock'd at this Boldness, though my self had been the Cause, and so went into my Dressing−room; a place that excludes all but my Maids, and some few Female Friends; but he had the boldness to follow me thither, and briskly sat him down by my Toilet. My Woman hearing me gone into my Dressing−room, came to me according to Custom, and seeing Jack sit there, began to chide him with rough Words, and bad him get him gone out of the Room, lest a Fire−shovel forc'd him out with Blood about his Ears. I, foolishly, was exasparated against her, as supposing (I believe) that she encroach'd on my Prerogative, in forbidding whom she thought fit; or what other Notion my ill Genius inspir'd, I know not; but so it was, that I espoused Jack's Cause, bidding her be patient, and she should know farther. In short, some Words of dispute passed; I still took Jack's part; at last, she said, if you have made Jack your Companion, or your Master, he shall never be mine; and so forthwith departed I must own, this gave me some Uneasiness, or rather Confusion, and out of which he endeavour'd to recover me, with many fair Words, mix'd with Sighs and Tears the Rhetorick the Sex has always ready wherewith to betray us; kneeling and kissing my Hands, begged me not to abate of that Goodness, which had inspir'd him with a Passion, on which his Life depended; for he having been bred up in my Father's Service, and reading many pretty Books, could speak well enough. However, I oblig'd him to depart for that time; and send my Chamber−maid to me. The poor Girl having been inform'd by my Woman, what had pass'd, entered in Tears, and found me in the same Condition. I bad her look in my Closet, and bring me some little Cordial, that was there, and put me to bed; which accordingly she did; but not to rest: For I slept not that Night; but tossed and touz'd, my thoughts being agitated with the utmost Vexation; not knowing how to undo what my Folly, or rather Whimsie had begun: For 'tis certain he was indifferent to me; but having thus far exposed my self to him, and my Servants, and in them to every body, I knew no what to do; I was like one on horse−back, plung'd in the midst of a violent deep Torrent, fearing to go forward, lest it shou'd be deeper; not daring to turn, lest that Motion should empower the rapid Stream to bear him down.

In this state were my Thoughts; I had no body to consult; shame forbidding me to tell my Story to any body wiser than my self: sometimes I pleas'd my thoughts, that if I married him, I should always be Mistress, and not be under the Government and Correction of an imperious and surly Master; not reflecting that the whole Sex, of what degree soever, will always exert the Authority that God gave their great Grandfather Adam. Then again, my romantick Brain would make me imagine, that he was of an Origin; (if known) above what he appeared: for he had been a Beggar−boy, taken up at my Father's Gate, and was bred up in our House, as I have told you, nor would he ever be persuaded to tell his Name, nor from whence he came.

Then again, I would draw that Curtain from before the Eyes of my Reason, and behold him as the poor Beggar−boy Jack, whose business it had been to clean the Dog−kennels, and at last, for a reward of his well−doing he was advanced to put on a Livery. This Reflection grated my proud Heart: Then it was I wish'd there had been Protestant Nunneries, where I might have shelter'd my Disgrace, under a holy Veil, or at least, a pretended, if not a real Devotion.

Then again my Thoughts would roll the other way, and consider Jack made a Gentleman by me; resolving that if I married him, to buy him a Commission, and let him try to make his Fortune in Flanders. Thus my poor Head turn'd from Thought to Thought, without any Sleep in my Eyes, or Repose in my Heart.

In the Morning I heard a Bustle at my Chamber−door, which prov'd to be between Jack and my Maid; for she coming then to wait on me, according to custom, he follow'd her, and would go in with her; which she refus'd; with that he strugled with her, and at last got the Key; then pushing her away, came in and lock'd the Door fast, and shut her out. I was frighten'd at this; but he approaching the Bed side, on his Knees begged Pardon for this Action, making a thousand Protestations of Duty and Respect; adding the Violence of his Passion, which my Goddness over night had kindled, in his Heart; at the same time he had the cunning to take hold on that Hand next my Bell, under a pretence of kissing it, launching out into many flattering Speeches not worth repeating; but the substance was, to press me to a Speedy Marriage, even that Morning. I suppose, he consider'd me as a kind of Romantick Humourist, (as I really was) and thought it best to make sure work, e'er I chang'd my mind.

Now I being thus shut up with him, knew that my Honour (as to outward appearance) was lost, and that I was more liable to Contempt than in being his Wife; so I e'en permitted him to go fetch a Parson; and was married that fatal Morning. At this the poor Creature (said the Gentleman) fell into a flood of Tears; but after a few Moments, drying her Eyes, she returned to her Story.

We passed this Day and the following Night in Jollity enough; but the next Morning my Steward came to Town, and was soon informed of this my Folly: When he approach'd my Presence, I was struck with Shame and Confusion, he being a Gentleman of a graceful Mien, and much respected in this Country. When he came in, my Husband, (for I must no longer call him Jack) kept his Seat, and without Ceremony call'd him by his Name, and bad him welcome. The good Gentleman, though he knew the Case, pretended Ignorance, and bad Jack get out of his Presence, to prevent a good Kicking. Then with Tears in my Eyes, I told him what was done. At which he seem'd much troubled for my sake; and withal told me, that since I had made my Footman my Master, I must not have him longer for my Servant; and bidding me provide some body to receive his Accounts, turn'd short, and departed.

This Transaction, as well as that of my Woman before, were both very grievous to me; and did, as it were, take me down in my Wedding−shoes; but soon after appear'd a business more mortifying; for my Chamber−maid was found with child and lay'd it to my Husband, and produced a Promise of Marriage.

He opened my Cabinet, and before my Face took out Handfuls of Gold and Jewels, and gave her, without counting, bad her look out a decent House, and therewithal furnish the same, make her self easie, for she should not be abandoned. He kept the Key of my Cabinet, and Scrutore; in short of every thing, that I had not a Pair of Gloves or a Row of Pins but what he gave me out. Imagine now, how I began to see and feel my Indiscretion; but this was nothing to what follows.

He said, he would have me dispose my self to go into the Country, where he had a House of his own, and told me his Name, and the place of his Birth; at which I was a little pleased, hoping my Romantick Notion was come true, and that I should find something a little tolerable and decent, Suitable to his Person, which was truly handsome. But, good Heavens! When we came to the Place, how was I amazed, to find my self brought to a poor thatch'd Cottage! To say the truth, he had taken care to have it made as well as it would bear, against my coming; and had put decent Furniture therein, telling me, he did not intend my Stay should be long there; only till he could get his business done amongst some Friends and Acquaintance he had in that Country; So away he went, leaving me and my Maid, and wherewithal to live in that mean way. But instead of travelling the Country as he pretended, he went directly to London, made off my House, and Goods, Plate, Linnen, and Jewels, &c. in short all. He gam'd, drank, whored, kept the Slut my Chamber−maid Lady−like Thus, he soon ran through my personal Estate I left behind me, though it was of considerable Value. He came to me again e'er I was delivered of my first Child, and did not let me know how near he had spent all; but brought with him a handsom Supply, to sustain the Charges of my approaching Child−bed.

Now it was that he propos'd to me the selling of a Lordship I had lying far distant, and to buy one nearer London,where Rents were better paid, and less Charge and Trouble, in gathering and receiving the said Rents; and withal propos'd to spare something over, (that he had in View being less in Extent than the other) wherewith to buy him a Place in the Army, Court, Custom−house, or the like; all which I approved and so consented to the selling my Lordship.

But alas, I had soon Cause to repent, when I found there was nothing done, no Lordship purchas'd, no Place nor Post bought; but the Money squandered away; I knew not how; but I suppose, in Riot, Gaming, and Lewdness. However, I wanted nothing in that little Station in which he had plac'd me; and I began to be very well pleas'd, being out of the Hurry and Reproaches of the great World, and my Friends in particular. He visited me sometimes; and always pretended great Business, Projects and Undertakings. I became with Child a second time; but it was about two Years after the first.

At this Juncture he pretended it was extreamly advisable to sell my other Lordship, to which at first I was very averse; but he alledging how great the Taxes on Land were, and like to continue, and that the Banks and Funds made a much better Return; which he pretended to know by Experience, as if he had put the Money of that other Lordship there; with another plausible Pretence he made, that in that Village where he had placed me, there was a good Farm or two to be sold with a handsom House on them, which he would buy, and fit up for my Habitation: All which look'd well; and made me hope, and flatter my self that thing were better than I imagined: Whereupon after many Difficulties and Disputes with my self, and him, I consented; thinking that his Pretences, of the Funds, and Bank might be in some degree true.

Moreover, I thought, that he, as we as others, lov'd to have things in their own Name. And thro' several other such Fancies, together with his Protestation I deluded my self thoroughly to my undoing.

However, he was so far just to his Word in buying the said Farms, made the House very handsome both within and without, and there plac'd me, brought me very handsome Chariot from London, and in it young Gentlewoman, for my Companion, and Waiting−woman; all this look kind, and the Child was pleas'd with its Bauble.

But alas, the Scale soon turn'd; and my waiting Gentlewoman became Mother of a brave Boy, which the false Wretch my Husband endeavour'd to shuffle off, telling me she was a Kinswoman of his unhappily married, and desired me to be kind to her; but she soon found the way to be kind to her self, and cruel to me; and as her Children grew up, (for she had more) she grew insolent to me and mine; and the Tables turn'd: For instead of her being my Waiting−woman, I was partly hers; for she ruled and governed my House and Servants; and I suppose, they had Orders under−hand to obey her rather than me; and my Husband when at home, abetted the same, shewing more respect to her than me; so that I plainly saw that all this House, handsome Furniture, and Chariot was all provided upon her account, not mine; and she commanded all as if really her own.

By this time my Son began to grow up fit for some sort of Education beyond that of a Country−School, and for which I press'd his Father to provide: At last he adher'd to my Importunities, and bought a little Horse on purpose to carry him to London with him: But I could never get him to tell me where, or about what Business he had placed him: For whenever I asked, I receiv'd nothing but a churlish Answer: And if I complain'd of the Insolence of his insulting Mistress he had placed with me, I had no Redress; but all her Words and Actions approv'd, and misdisdain'd.

This Usage at last tired me out, together with an Ardent Desire of seeing my Son, or endeavouring to find him out. I all this a good neighbouring Lady assisted me, and lent me Money to convey me to London, advising me to go to my Friends, and humble my self to them, and thus endeavour to extricate my self out of these Vexations. This good Lady took my Daughter into her care, which was my second Child; and thus to London I came, I address'd my self to my Friends, from whom I found few Comforts, but many Reproaches.

Thus, having neither Friends nor Money, nor being able to find out my Son or Husband, nor knowing how to get my Living in the midst of these Afflictions, I did that wicked Action, of throwing my self into the Pond, from which you have been my Deliverer, and are a Witness of this last Act of Despair, as you was of my first Act of Folly. And, I think, the whole Sequel of my Husband's Behaviour, does most exactly fulfil the Proverb,

Set a Beggar on Horse−back,
And he'll ride to the Devil.

Dorinda had just finish'd her Story (said the Gentleman) when my Foot−Boy came to know whether I would dine at the Tavern, or have my Dinner brought home; but hoping she might eat a Bit, I order'd it to be brought to my Lodging. The Landlady accommodated Dorinda with all Necessaries: For she had so well recover'd her self, that she came into the Dining−Room with a good Appetite: But whilst we sate attending the coming of Dinner, Dorinda fell a sighing, as if troubled with the Vapours, which I took to be the effect of her deep reflecting on things past, and in which I endeavour'd to consolate her, bidding her forget what was past, and hope for better to come. But she said, it was not Reflection that caus'd her Sighs, but the Sight of Boy put her in mind of that Child her Husband had carried away. At which the Boy fell a crying, and said, Mamma, Mamma, Indeed, you are my Mamma. This was a surprizing Discovery; wherefore we made the Boy tell us all he could remember since he left his Mother, which is as follows.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:51