Now Marsha runs a wondrous needlework site called The Scarlet Letter. She sells books and supplies and museum reproduction kits that she makes herself; she sells wonderful antique samplers.
And that means that she is still involved with words, though in a very different way. I thought of her today because she sent me some fragmentary lines from an English sampler. One set turned out to be from "Enthusiasm," a portion of "Poetical Frenzy, a Venture in Rhyme" (Author unknown, I believe.)
Sweet religion, cheerful, mild,
Pleasure's course, and reason's child,
Come, array'd in heavenly sheen,
Come and cheer the dismal scene;
Hope, bright beaming in thy eye,
Bid despair and horror fly;
The other lines proved not to be a compliment to a particular friend, as the fragments suggested, but the words of Isaac Watts: "thanks to my friends for their care in my breeding, / who taught me betimes to love working and reading."
I thought for today I might offer some of the words from some of Marsha's samplers; they have great charm and come to us from a distance that may appear at first uncrossable (in the ways of both cross-stitches and crosses.) And if you want more of her own words, you might dig up a copy of Ghosts or jump to The Scarlet Letter, where you can also see her lovely farm, many English and American antique samplers, books, reproduction kits, and much more.
Here's the text from the sampler pictured above:
ANN HOW 1794
English sampler worked with silk threads on finely woven tammy (wool) cloth with alphabets and pious verses over a lower register featuring a small flock of sheep, facing stags, and a brick cottage. Stitches used are cross, eyelet and petit point, in shades of green, gold, black, blue, rose, brown and ivory. There is some damage to the background but it does not interfere with the design. The frame is possibly original. The verses read:
Favour is deceitful and Beauty is vain but a
Woman that feareth the Lord she shall be praised.
Virtue the Brightest Gem a maid can Whear nor
can the Indies boast of one so fair all Jewels
far beneath its worth We find they but adorn
the Body not the Mind. Ann How July the 21
Fear God and Keep his Commandments
Love the Lord and he will be a tender Father unto thee. Ann How.
And here is a positively Polonial young lady:
'PROCEED not to speak or to act before
thou hast weigh'd thy words and examin'd
the tendancy of every step thou shalt take.
The thoughtless man bridleth not his tongue
he speaketh at random and is entangled in the
foolishness of his own words.
The first step towards being wise is to
know that thou art Ignorant.
A plain garment beat adorneth a beautifull
woman and a modest behaviour is the great
est ornament of wisdom.
Behold the vain man and observe the aro
gant, he cloatheth himself in rich attire he
walketh in the publick street he casteth round
his eyes and courteth observation.'.
Signed and dated 'Susey Oliver's work finish'd Dec. ye 14th 17?4 Taught by Maryan Robinson of Bradford'
While I hoped to read and post something about the remainder of the books that friends have published this year during the 12 Days, I'm not going to make it--I still have books by Robert Freeman Wexler (who designed Val/Orson) and Philip Lee Williams and a few more to go, but I have college runs and house repairs and much else. I will do them, however, later in the year.