Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Here's a Victorian sampler that I found today on the wall of the White House pub near Oakwood, where I was having lunch:

Samplers were embroidered by small girls to practise and show off their skills in different embroidery stitches - they usually gave the girl's name and the date too. I think that this one used to but they have worn away. You can still read the verse, though. This is what it says:

Virtue is the chiefest beauty of the mind

The noblest ornament of humankind

Virtue is our safeguard and our guiding star

That stirs up reason when our senses err

Imagine the joy little Emmeline must have felt when presented with this trite pomposity to embroider. The idea was that somehow the noble sentiment would permeate the person doing the embroidery.

Now, for those who like that kind of thing - as Miss Brodie was heard to remark - that is the kind of thing that they like. But I'm not one of them.

No wonder child mortality in Victorian times was so high: I expect they died of boredom. I live in hopes of one day coming across a sampler that reads:

This tedious sampler that I have to sew

Is my life wasted. Will I do it? No.


Anonymous Emily said...

Ah, the virtuous nature of the Victorian age (ask Gareth for full explanation) :)

2:44 pm  

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