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ruffles of the Cavalier, and ever and anon adding to their piquancy by some new and dainty device: then you would behold her with smoothly plaited hair, and sad-coloured garment of serge, and looks like a November day, hemming the bands of a Roundhead, and withal adding numerous layers of starch. With grave and sedate aspect she would shape and sew the uncomely raiment of a Genevan divine; with neat-handed alacrity she would prepare the grave and becoming garments of the Anglican Church, though perhaps a gentle sigh would escape, a sigh of regret for the stately and glowing vestments of old : for they did honour to the house of God, not because they were stately and glowing, but because they were offerings of our best.
In all the sweet charities of domestic life she has ever been a participant. Often and again has she fled the splendid court, the glittering ball-room, and taken her station at the quiet hearth of the gentle and home-loving matron. She has lightened the weariness of many a solitary vigil, and she has heightened the enjoyment of many a social gossip.
Nor even while courted and caressed in courts and palaces did Needlework absent herself from the habitations of the poor. Oh no, she was their familiar friend, the daily and hourly companion of their firesides. And when she experienced, as all do experience, the fickleness of court favour, she was cherished and sheltered there. And there she remained, happy in her utility, till again summoned by royal mandate to resume her station near the throne. The illustrious and excellent lady who lately filled the British throne, and who reigned still more
surely in the hearts of Englishwomen, and who has most graciously permitted us to place her honoured name on these pages, allured Needlework from her long seclusion, and reinstated her in her once familiar place among the great and noble.
Fair reader! you see that this gentle dame NeedleWork is of ancient lineage, of high descent, of courtly habits: will you not permit me to make you somewhat better acquainted? Pray travel onward with me to her shrine. The way is not toilsome, nor is the track rugged; but,
"Where the silver fountains wander,
amid the sunny meads and flower-bestrewn paths of fancy and taste—there will she beguile us. Do not then, pray do not, forsake me.
"The use of sewing is exceeding old,
"The rose was in rich bloom on Sharon's plain,
In speaking of the origin of needlework it will be necessary to define accurately what we mean by the term "needlework;" or else, when we assert that Eve was the first sempstress, we may be taken to task by some critical antiquarian, because we may not be able precisely to prove that the frail and beautiful mother of mankind made use of a little weapon of polished steel, finely pointed at one end and bored at the other, and "warranted not to cut in the eye." Assuredly we do not mean to assert that she did use such an instrument; most probably—we would almost venture to say most certainly —she did not. But then again the cynical critic would attack us :—" You say that Eve was the first professor of needlework, and yet you disclaim the use of a needle for her."
No, good sir, we do not. Like other profound investigators and original commentators, we do not annihilate one hypothesis ere we are prepared with another, " ready cut and dried," to rise, like any fabled phoenix, on the ashes of its predecessor. It is not long since we were edified by a conversation which we heard, or rather overheard, between two sexagenarians—both well versed in antiquarian lore, and neither of them deficient in antiquarian tenacity of opinion—respecting some theory which one of them wanted to establish about some aborigines. The concluding remark of the conversation—and we opined that it might as well have formed the commencement—was—
"If you want to lay down facts, you must follow history; if you want to establish a system, it is quite easy to place the people where you like."
So, if I wished to "establish a system," I could easily make Eve work with a "superfine drill-eyed needle:" but this is not my object.
It seems most probable that Eve's first needle was a thorn:
"Before man's fall the rose was born,
Why thorns should spring up at the precise moincnt of the fall is difficult to account for in a world where everything has its use, except we suppose that they were meant for needles: and general analogy leads us to this conclusion; for in almost all existing records of people in what we are pleased to call a "savage" state, we find that women make use of this primitive instrument, or a fish-bone. "Avant ]'invention des aiguilles d'acier, on a du se servir, a leur defaut, d'epines, ou d'aretes de poissons, ou d'os d'animaux." And as Eve's first specimen of needlework was certainly completed before the sacrifice of any living thing, we may safely infer that the latter implements were not familiar to her. The Cimbrian inhabitants of Britain passed their time in weaving baskets, or in sewing together for garments the skins of animals taken in the chase, while they used as needles for uniting these simple habiliments small bones of fish or animals rudely sharpened at one end; and needles just of the same sort were used by the inhabitants of the Sandwich Islands, when the celebrated Captain Cook first visited them.
Proceed we to the material of the first needlework. >"They sewed themselves fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons."
Thus the earliest historical record; and thus the most esteemed poetical commentator.
It is supposed that the leaves alluded to here were