The Napkin

Book Title: Het leerzaam huisraad : vertoond in vyftig konstige figuuren, met godlyke spreuken en stichtelyke verzen / door Jan Luiken

Author: Luiken, Jan, 1649-1712

Image Title: The Napkin

Scripture Reference:

Description: As the family gathers for dinner, care is given to cover one’s garments with napkins to prevent soiling. A nearby poem expresses a wish that people were so attentive to the care of their souls and avoid staining them through sin (Hebrews 10:22). The Dutch artist and poet Jan Luiken (1649–1712), whose initials are at the lower right, was responsible for drawing and etching this emblem and wrote the accompanying poem.

Motto: Protect the best.

So that the garment remains proper,
And is not stained or soiled,
The linen napkin serves to protect:
O Would that people cared so for the Heart,
So that it would not be stained;
And were it so covered with something good:
And kept itself pure and clean,
How beautiful and admirable that would be!
For as one is daily seated
To Dine, from that which gave life,
There soiling constantly occurs,
While one is occupied with eating.
Would then that the napkin, Attentiveness,
Still be spread over the Heart,
So that it will not be found
Before the open and accurate eye,
With a clarity never deceived by pretense
Stained, soiled, and dirty from sins.

(Translation by Josephine V. Brown, with editorial assistance from William G. Stryker).

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