The "mysterious Turnings of human Cogitations" compose "Labyrinths for Reason to lose her Way, unless conducted by the Line of Vertue"

— Barker, Jane (1675-1743)

Place of Publication
Printed for A. Bettesworth and E. Curll
1712, 1715, 1719
The "mysterious Turnings of human Cogitations" compose "Labyrinths for Reason to lose her Way, unless conducted by the Line of Vertue"
Metaphor in Context
But, oh! how inscruitable are the mysterious Turnings of human Cogitations, and how inevitable the Vicissitudes of exteriour Events! Both compose Labyrinths for Reason to lose her Way, unless conducted by the Line of Vertue: This I experienc'd, when the King sent me his Commands to dispose my self for a speedy Marriage. Then did all those Resentments I had conceiv'd against Exilius vanish, and his Worth appear'd more bright than ever. All his Services and vertuous Affection, his modest long conceal'd Passion, his tender Declaration, seem'd now to enlarge themselves as Shadows at the Sun's declining. Methought his Sufferings drew that Knot strait which our mutual Vows had ty'd; and that seeming Willingness (in his Letter) to loosen it, serv'd only to tie it faster, and render it impossible to be undone, till cut together with the Thread of our Lives. His Dungeon was much more charming to my Thoughts than that Dignity which courted me. I hated my self, the King, and all that conduc'd to this my glorious Undoing. I accus'd the Gods that had made me fair, my Parents and European Education that had render'd me agreeable. Unhappy Maid, (said I to myself) that cannot be in Love with Riches, dote upon Honour, and idolize Grandeur, which carry with them such Charms as inchant and intoxicate the greatest Part of Mankind, and chiefly our Sex, who are said to be their most exact Votaries. Why was I born? Or, why was I born a Female? Or, why did I not die in my Infancy? Or, why did not some foul Disease seize my Youth, to disfigure this unhappy Form, that it might have been Love's Antidote to all Beholders? Or why, O ye immortal Powers! did you not give me a Soul unjust, treacherous, or unfaithful, thereby to render me the Odium of all vertuous People? But why, oh! why have you given me an Interior, bearing so great a Resemblance to your own divine Purities, and not given me the Power to act accordingly; but have fix'd me in such a State, that my Actions must combat my Conscience, and my Conscience oppose my Reason, and all make a civil War in my Affections. Happiness courts me, Misery flies me: I, like a Creature quite irrational, avoid the former, and pursue the latter, which I am bound to do by Inclination and Religion, and forbid by Reason and Necessity. Vertue and Wisdom, which are generally Friends and Allies, in me are utter Enemies; I cannot adhere to the one, nor dare not incline to the other. I am made up of Antipathies and Contradictions, which compose a Chaos of Madness, Misery, and Despair. O ye divine Powers, assist me! O Vertue, be my Guide thro' this Wilderness, into which my cruel Stars have misled me! O all ye immortal Beings, that contributed to raise the Scipio's to their Grandeur, and each good Genius of my Ancestors, suffer not a Daughter of this noble House, which has been your peculiar Care so many Ages, to fall into Dishonour! Whilst I was thus confusedly entertaining my distracted Thoughts, the King came to make me a Visit. He treated me with a chearful Discourse of Things indifferent, which I receiv'd with all the agreeable Complaisance I could, thereby to screw him up to a good Humour, the better to repeat my Request to him touching Exilius. But before any happy Moment gave me Occasion to speak, the Captain of the Guard came in, telling the King, he was come according to his Majesty's Command, to know his Orders about Exilius. At which, his Majesty turning towards me, said, Madam, I suppose you have by this Time fix'd your Resolution touching Exilius. You know the Conditions of his Life and Death, therefore be pleas'd to give your Sentence. To which I reply'd, all transported with Grief and Anger, saying, Let him die rather than live, to upbraid me with Falshood and Inconstancy. Since 'tis your Will (said the King) it shall be so: Then, turning to the Captain, gave Order for his Execution that very Night. This very Night! (reply'd I, all distracted) Can nothing purchase his Life one Night? Yes, (said the King) give me your Hand, and you shall have his Life to Night. Alas! (said I) I will give my Hand, my Life, or anything, to purchase his Life but for a Moment. So giving my Hand, begg'd that Exilius might live; to which the King accorded, and forthwith dispatch'd the Captain. Now, you must know, that, in that Country, a Woman never gives her Hand on any Occasion, but gives withal the Assurance of her Person. This I did not well know then, but thought it was as with us, that it might be done on divers Occasions, without Consequence.
Searching in HDIS (Prose)
At least 5 entries in ESTC (1712, 1715, 1719, 1736, 1743). [Final three dates for The Entertaining Novels].

See Exilius: or, the Banish'd Roman. A New Romance. In Two Parts: Written After the Manner of Telemachus, for the Instruction of some Young Ladies of Quality. By Mrs. Jane Barker (London: [1712?]). Copy at Princeton University.

Text from The Entertaining Novels of Mrs. Jane Barker, 2nd edition, 2 vols. (London: Printed for A. Bettesworth and E. Curll, 1719). <Link to ECCO>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.