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

The Story of Mrs. Castoff.

I was Daughter of an honest Country−Gentleman tho' but of a small Estate, who had many Children. Now, there was a good Gentlewoman in our Neighbourhood, whose Husband died, leaving her no Child: She took me from my Mother, I suppose, to provide for me; which was esteemed a very great Kindness.

This Gentlewoman, some time after, mov'd from her Country−Residence, and took me with her to London, where we liv'd happily together, I being then about fourteen Years old: I waited on her in the nature of a Chamber−maid, thereby to initiate me into a religious and dutiful Behaviour: For she being a Widow, valued but little of Dress, except that of her Mind; her Devotions, Retirements and Instructions to me and her Servants, being the greatest part of her Employment; which, I doubt, was not so agreeable to my giddy Youth as it ought to have been; young People, too often having an Opinion of themselves, as if Instructions were needless, and themselves capable of being Teachers, instead of Learners.

How far this was my fault, I know not; but instead of keeping with her in her Chamber, I was perpetually making Errands, and pretences to be in the Shop where we lodged; and here my young Face call'd many young Fellows to cheapen Goods, and many to buy; For our Landlady kept a Millener's Shop. These would often address themselves to me with some Question or other, as is usual among Youth, which had no other consequence, than making me grow pert, and think too well of my self: But my Ruin proceeded from one of my own Sex.

There was a certain comely genteel Woman, who frequented that Shop, and by degrees made an acquaintance with me, asking me if I was a Servant to that Gentlewoman, or related to her? I told her that I was neither; but let her know how it was. Upon which, she told me she could help me to a very good Place, where I should have not only very good Wages, but other considerable Advantages, and be in a Way for Preferment; but advised me to say nothing to any one, especially the Gentlewoman I then liv'd with, till she had spoken with the Lady for whom she intended me.

This pass'd on a while, she still giving me Encouragement and Assurance of her Diligence in this Affair. At last, she bid me dress my self the next Sunday, as if I was going to Church, but come to her, and she would go with me to a Lady, who had spoken to her to get her a pretty Girl to wait in the Nursery; but that it was best not to acquaint any body with it, till she saw how the Lady lik'd me.

In this Prospect I greatly rejoyc'd; and accordingly dress'd my self as if going to Church, and so I went to this Woman's House; which prov'd to me the Den of Deceit, the Devil's Dungeon, which in some Degree I deserved for my Hypocrisie to Heaven, and my Ingratitude to the good Gentlewoman my Patroness, for thus forming an Intrigue of any kind without her Knowledge.

I got to my Deceiver in due time, who readily went with me to present me to the Lady. We came to a large magnificent House, and went up a Noble Stair−Case, into a stately Dining−Room, where, instead of a Lady, was a Gentleman, who immediately stood up; and speaking very friendly, told my Conducter, he suppos'd, that this Young Gentlewoman was the Person she brought to offer to his Wife; and then addressing himself to me, Come, pretty Maid, said he, I will direct you to her: So he took me by the hand, led me into a Back−Room, and lock'd the Door; in the mean time my Betrayer departed.

I will not trouble you with the Repetition of the fine Speeches he made to recover me from my Surprize, and suppress my Tears; for he was a Man of Wit, and an engaging Mien; he promis'd me a thousand Fineries, gave me an handful of Gold, told me I should have a fine House of my own, a Coach and Servants, with all manner of Imbellishments to grace and adorn my Beauty; which Beauty (continu'd he) has chain'd my Heart, ever since the moment I beheld it in the Milliner's Shop, where I was ( incog) buying some things, on purpose to see you; for you were recommended to me by Mrs. Wheedle, the Woman that brought you hither.

In short, my Eyes were not blind to his Noble Person, nor my Ears deaf to his alluring Speeches, nor was my Heart made of a Stick or a Stone; but young and tender, susceptible of the Impressions of Love: For I will do his Lordship that Justice, he used no manner of Violence against my Youth and Innocence: Butwith that she wept, which stopt her proceeding for a while, but she soon recover'd her self.

I was placed (continu'd she) in a sumptuous Lodging, with Servants, and Fineries of all sorts about me; my Lord frequently came, and entertain'd me with his Wit and Gallantry; he carry'd me abroad from time to time in his Coach to take the Air, and treated me at all Places of Diversion and Entertainment; in the Evenings we went to Plays, Balls and Opera's; I perk'd up in the Face of Quality, and was a Companion for my Betters: Thus I liv'd in Lewdness and Profaness.

By this barefac'd Wickedness, my good Patroness found me out: For she was in great Affliction in consideration of what became of me. As soon as she knew, she sent one to me to enquire into the matter; which shew'd it self so foul, that she proceeded no farther in her Enquiry; only sent me word she cast me off for ever; This Menace I very little valued, thinking my self much above her Favour.

At last, the News of my lewd Life came to the Ears of my Father and Mother in the Country; who, good People, were sorely griev'd; and sent to me, desiring I would abandon the way I was in, and resolve to live vertuously and modestly for the future, and their House should be open for my Reception, and their Arms for my Pardon: But, alas, these Offers were, I thought, much below my acceptance; I scorn'd an old−fashion'd Country Seat, with Bow−windows, low Roofs, long dark Passages, a slight Thread−Sattin Gown, Worsted−Stockins, plain Shoes, and such like Cloathing; or to have Swine and Poultry for my Companions; perhaps, on Sunday in the Afternoon some of the Farmers Wives: So I refus'd this offer'd Favour and Forgiveness.

Hereupon my good pious Parents sent me word, they cast me off for ever, bidding me think of them no more.

This, indeed, was some Grief at first; but the next Visit from my Lord with his courtly Behaviour soon asswaged it.

Thus I walk'd on in the open Path of Pleasure, and ascended the highest Pinacle of Pride; my Vanity being daily soothed with Praises of my Beauty; and the World solliciting me for Places and Preferments by my Lord's Interest. All which gratified my Vanity, and made me believe my self a great Lady; because I was Courted and Visited by my Superiours, and respected by my Equals.

Thus had the Devil raised me upon a high Pinacle, to make my Fall the greater; For all on a sudden, my Lord sent one of his Gentlemen, to bid me not dare to see his Face any more. I was earnest with the Gentleman to tell me the reason of this great Change; but, he could not, or would not; only he inform'd me, that my Lord was not very well. At the same time he told the People of the House, that they must look to me for payment of the Lodgings.

Thus was I cast off by my Keeper; and for an Addition to my Grief, they turn'd me out that very Day, and seiz'd all my Furniture, I not having Money at that time to discharge the Rent; my Profuseness, having always anticipated my Lord's Liberality.

In this Condition I went to Mrs. Wheedle, thinking to borrow a little of her, to release my things; and to have taken a Lodging with her, at least, that Night: But, alas, far from that, she not only refus'd me all Favour, but loaded me with Reproaches; and chiefly, for having so far abus'd my Lord's Bounty, and like an impudent Strumpet, I had depriv'd him of his Health.

Thus was she a perfect Devil, leading People into Damnation, and then becoming their Tormentors. I was amazed to find my self charg'd with being the Cause of my Lord's Illness; of which I knew myself truly innocent; but Words of Justification were to no more purpose, than to fight with the North−Wind. Thus was I Cast off, not only by my Lord, but by this vile Wretch my first Seducer.

In the midst of this great Distress I got into a private poor Lodging, not knowing what to do, nor to whom to address. I was reduced to great Misery, being helpless, friendless, destitute, and abandon'd; and, what was worst of all, I began to find a great Alteration in my Health. I had only one Ring on my Finger when I was driven out of my Lodging. This enhanced my present Necessity.

Sitting in this deplorable Condition, a Gentlewoman came up Stairs; and entring my Room, I soon discover'd she was Waiting Woman to my Lord's Lady; and was come from her to assist me in my Sufferings. She went with me to my former Lodging; from whence we recovered my things, sold 'em as well as we could, therewith paid all my Debts, and had Money left, for my Assistance. I thank'd, and on my Knees pray'd for this kind Lady, who is a Mirrour of Goodness; not only to forgive, but to seek me out, and relieve me.

Thus I pass'd on a while; But finding my Distemper increase, I was forced to put my self under Cure; which so far devour'd the little Substance I had, that by such time as I was thoroughly well, I was in a manner pennyless: However, I having recover'd my Health, and not quite exhausted my youth, (for I was still young) I knew, I was able to go to Service; but the difficulty was, I had led so evil a Life, it was impossible to hope for a Recommendation from any body: This came to the Ears of my Lord's good Lady, who again sent her Woman, to consult with me; who advised me from my Lady to put my self under a Manteau−maker; which I approv'd, and resolv'd to be vertuous and modest, and she promis'd to be at the Charge. This greatly rejoyced me; and accordingly I was placed with a Person of that Employment.

Here I went on very well, learnt my Business in perfection, and in due time set up for my self, and began to have good Encouragement. But my unhappy Beauty was again my Ruin.

There came a glorious young Gentleman of Quality to lodge in the same House where I liv'd; his unhappy Person and Mien were extreamly engaging, and his broken English, (for he was a Foreigner) was with such a pretty Accent, that his Conversation was Charming; at least, it was so to me; he would often condsecend to come and sit with me and my Workwomen, under pretence of improving himself in the English Language. Thus, Deceit on his side, and Weakness on mine, composed an Amour, to destroy my whole Life's Happiness.

I will not repeat to you, his Sighs, Tears, Vows, Presents, Treats, and divers sorts of Gallantries, and lastly, his Promise of Marriage, if I should be with Child; and this on his Knees he swore; in these very Words, If you prove with Child, I swear to marry you: But for my sake, may no young Woman take Mens Words, nor believe the Oaths till the Parson puts the Hoop on their Finger, that Circle which conjures the most notorious Rover into some decent Limits; if not of Constancy, at least, of Formality. I proving with Child, charged him with his Promise, which he answer'd in his broken English; Yes, Madam, Me will marry you to my Foot−man; if He be willing. But the Gentlemen in my Country do not marry vid de Whores; for dat is no good fashion; but go you gone Mistress; dere is Money for you; and so left me, and forthwith his Lodging likewise.

Thus was I cast off by this wicked Foreigner. But this was but one part of my Misfortune; for that most excelling of her Sex, my Lord's Lady, hearing of this my Misbehaviour, sent and took away those Cloaths I had of her's in making, and withal acquainted me, she cast me off for ever, and, by her Example, all other Ladies and Gentlewomen did the like. Thus I lost my Livelyhood; and with the Grief hereof, I had like to have miscarried; and having nothing, to do at my Manteau−making nor Strength, nor Credit to put my self into any other Business, I spent all I had, both Money and Cloaths; that when I was out of my Child−bed, I was like to starve; but the good Woman of the House, pittying me, and not knowing the whole of my Story (for I made her believe my Husband was an Officer, and gone into Flanders;) I say, this good Woman, got me to be a Wet−Nurse in a Lady's House. Here I was very happy for a while; but by some means or other my Lady heard of my Character, and so cast me off, getting another Nurse in my place.

Now was I reduced to greater Necessity than ever, having sold, pawn'd, and spent All, my Credit lost every where; and having my self and a Child to keep, Time and Poverty began to prey upon my Beauty; so that was not much to be depended upon; I had not Cloaths to grace me, nor Linen to keep me clean; that now I was forced to betake my self to the most scandalous and meanest sort of Lewdness, and became a Night−walker in Fleet−street. Should I tell you all the Affronts, and Indignities I suffer'd here, 'twould make your Ears glow, being often beat, and made to expose my self stark−naked, for the brutal Diversion of those who pick'd up such distressed Creatures. By this time my Daughter began to grow up, and was very beautiful; and likely enough to fall into the same wicked Way; but that a good Gentlewoman, a Lawyer's Wife, taking pity of her Youth, took her into her House, giving her a vertuous honest Education; but upon condition that I should never come near her, nor she me.

Thus was I a Cast off from my own dear and only Child, which was very grievous to me; but was forced to bear it for her good; and the better to secure, and accomplish this Prohibition, I resolv'd to remove my self to the Hundreds of Drury; for I began to be too well known, to be acceptable any where else.

Thither I came, and there I lived in great Misery and Contempt; such as I would not wish to the greatest Enemy that ever was. However, it has so far opened the Eyes of my Understanding, as to know that nothing but a sincere Repentance will attone for my Transgressions. Hereupon she lookt into the Factor's Box, and took a large Parcel of these Vertues, wherewith she adorn'd her self, and according to the proverb,

Cast off Vice, when Vice cast off her.

The rest of the Company ask'd our Factor, if she had no good Books to put them also into a State of Repentance; so she produced a Book call'd the Imitation of Christ, bidding them strictly peruse the Contents of that invaluable Treatise, and therein they would find Rest for their Souls.

The Factor, seeing she was like to dispose of no more of her Vertues at that time, put up her Goods, and went home.

Galecia perceiving, she made no better return of her Merchandize in London, resolved to try the Country, in hopes the Women of all Ranks and Stations would be better Customers. As she was busie in putting up her things for this Journey, she heard a Chariot stop at the Door, and a Gentlewoman come up her Stairs; at whose Appearance she was ravished with Joy, it proving to be the good Lady's Waiting−Woman; who by her Lady's Order, came to see if Galecia had done her business in Town; and if she was dispos'd to go into the Country: For, said she, my Lady very very earnestly desires your Company, now the Spring comes on. Therefore, dear Galecia,dispose your self to go with me.

This Invitation was an inexpressible Joy to our Galecia; so she hastned to put up every thing; the Gentlewoman lending her helping hand; soon finished and took her away in the Chariot to her Inn that night, in order to prosecute their Journey early the next Morning.


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The University of Adelaide Library
University of Adelaide
South Australia 5005

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