A Celebration of Women Writers

"Part of the Fifth Scene in the Second Act of Athalia" by Anne Kingsmill Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1661 - 1720)
From Winchilsea, Anne (Kingsmill) Finch, Countess of. Miscellany Poems, on Several Occasions, London: printed for J[ohn] B[arber] and sold by Benj. Tooke at the Middle-Temple-Gate, William Taylor in Pater-Noster-Row, and James Round, in Exchange-Alley, Cornhil, 1713. pp. 84-87.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 84]

Part of the Fifth Scene in the Second Act of Athalia, a Tragedy, written in French by Monsieur Racine.

Enter, as in the Temple of Jerusalem,

ATHALIA, MATHAN, ABNER.

Mathan.

WHY, to our Wonder, in this Place is seen,
Thus discompos'd, and alter'd, Juda's Queen?
May we demand, what Terrors seize your Breast,
Or, why your Steps are to this House addrest,
Where your unguarded Person stands expos'd
To secret Foes, within its Walls inclos'd?
Can it be thought that you remit that Hate?

Athalia.

No more! but Both observe what I relate:
Not, that I mean (recalling Times of Blood)
To make you Judges of the Paths I trod,
When to the empty'd Throne I boldly rose,
Treating all Intercepters as my Foes.

[Page 85]

'Twas Heav'ns Decree, that I should thus succeed,
Whose following Favour justifies the Deed,
Extending my unlimited Command
From Sea to Sea o'er the obedient Land:
Whilst your Jerusalem all Peace enjoys,
Nor now the' encroaching Philistine destroys,
Nor wandring Arab his Pavilion spreads,
Near Jordan's Banks, nor wastes his flow'ry Meads.
The great Assyrian, Terror of your Kings,
Who bought his Friendship with their holiest Things,
Yields that a Sister, of his pow'rful Race,
Should sway these Realms, and dignify the Place.
Nor need we add the late insulting Foe,
The furious Jehu does this Sceptre know,
And sinks beneath the Load of conscious Fears,
When in Samaria he my Actions hears.
Distrest by Foes, which I've against him rais'd,
He sees me unmolested, fix'd, and pleas'd;

[Page 86]

At least, till now thus glorious was my State;
But something's threatned from relaxing Fate,
And the last Night, which should have brought me Rest,
Has all these great Ideas dispossest.
A Dream, a Vision, an apparent View
Of what, methinks, does still my Steps pursue,
Hangs on my pensive Heart, and bears it down
More than the weight of an objected Crown,
My Mother (be the Name with Rev'rence spoke!)
Ere chearful Day thro' horrid Shades had broke,
Approach'd my Bed, magnificent her Dress,
Her Shape, her Air did Jesabel confess:
Nor seem'd her Face to have refus'd that Art,
Which, in despight of Age, does Youth impart,
And which she practis'd, scorning to decay,
Or to be vanquish'd ev'n in Nature's way.
Thus all array'd, in such defying Pride
As when th' injurious Conqu'ror she descry'd,
And did in height of Pow'r for ill-got Pow'r deride.

[Page 87]

To me she spake, these Accents to me came:
"Thou worthy Daughter of my soaring Fame,
"Tho' with a more transcendent Spirit fill'd,
"Tho' struggling Pow'rs attempt thy Life to shield,
"The Hebrew's God (Oh, tremble at the sound!)
"Shall Thee and Them, and all their Rights confound.
A pitying Groan concludes, no Word of Aid.
My Arms I thought to throw about the Shade
Of that lov'd Parent, but my troubled Sight
No more directed them to aim aright,
Nor ought presented, but a heap of Bones,
For which fierce Dogs contended on the Stones,
With Flakes of mangled Flesh, that quiv'ring still
Proclaim'd the Freshness of the suffer'd Ill;
Distain'd with Blood the Pavement, and the Wall,
Appear'd as in that memorable Fall

Abner.

Oh! just avenging Heaven! [aside.

Mathan.

Sure, Dreams like these are for Prevention given.

[Page 88]

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom