A Celebration of Women Writers

"A Poem for the Birth-Day of the Right Honble The Lady Catharine Tufton" 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. p. 141-145.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

A POEM for the Birth-Day of the Right Honble The Lady CATHARINE TUFTON.

Occasion'd by sight of some Verses upon that Subject for the preceding Year, compos'd by no Eminent Hand.

'Tis fit SERENA shou'd be sung. {1}
High-born SERENA, Fair and Young,
Shou'd be of ev'ry Muse and Voice
The pleasing, and applauded Choice.
But as the Meanest of the Show
Do First in all Processions go:
So, let my Steps pursue that Swain
The humblest of th' inspired Train;
Whose well-meant Verse did just appear,
To lead on the preceding Year:

[Page 142]

So let my Pen, the next in Fame,
Now wait on fair SERENA's Name;
The second Tribute gladly pay,
And hail this blest returning Day.
But let it not attempt to raise
Or rightly speak SERENA's Praise:
Since with more ease we might declare
How Great her Predecessors were;
How Great that more distinguish'd Peer, {2}
To whom she owes her Being here;
In whom our Britain lets us see
What once they were, and still shou'd be;
As, when the earliest Race was drown'd,
Some Patterns, from amongst them found,
Were kept to shew succeeding Times
Their Excellence without their Crimes:
More easily we might express
What Vertues do her Mother dress;
What does her Form and Mind adorn,
Of whom th' engaging Nymph was born;

[Page 143]

What Piety, what generous Love,
Does the enlarged Bosom move
Of {3} Her, whose Fav'rite she appears,
Who more than as a Niece endears.
Such full Perfections obvious lie,
And strike, at first, a Poet's Eye.
Deep Lines of Honour all can hit,
Or mark out a superior Wit;
Consummate Goodness all can show,
And where such Graces shine below:
But the more tender Strokes to trace,
T' express the Promise of a Face,
When but the Dawnings of the Mind
We from the Air unripen'd find;
Which alt'ring, as new Moments rise,
The Pen or Pencil's Art defies;
When Flesh and Blood in Youth appears,
Polish'd like what our Marble wears;
Fresh as that Shade of op'ning Green,
Which first upon our Groves is seen;

[Page 144]

Enliven'd by a harmless Fire,
And brighten'd by each gay Desire;
These nicer Touches wou'd demand
A Cowley's or a Waller's Hand,
T'explain, with undisputed Art,
What 'tis affects th'enlighten'd Heart,
When ev'ry darker Thought gives way,
Whilst blooming Beauty we survey;
To shew how All, that's soft and sweet,
Does in the fair SERENA meet;
To tell us, with a sure Presage,
The Charms of her maturer Age.
When Hothfeild shall (as heretofore {4}
From its far-sought and virtuous Store
It Families of great Renown
Did with illustrious Hymens crown)
When Hothfeild shall such Treasure know,
As fair SERENA to bestow:
Then shou'd some Muse of loftier Wing
The Triumphs of that Season sing;

[Page 145]

Describe the Pains, the Hopes, the Fears
Of noble Youths, th'ambitious Cares
Of Fathers, the long-fram'd Design,
To add such Splendour to their Line,
Whilst all shall strive for such a Bride
So Educated, and Ally'd.

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

Notes:

Notes originally by Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1713) are preceded by the notation [AF]. Notes by Myra Reynolds (1903) are credited with the notation [MR]. Uncredited notes are the addition of the page maintainer.

  1. [MR] ... "Serena" is Catharine Tufton, (born April 24, 1692, daughter of "Arminda", the Countess of Thanet).
  2. [MR] The sixth Earl of Thanet, known as "the good Lord Thomas." "He is a good country gentleman, a great assertor of the prerogatives of the monarchy and the church; a thin, tall, black, red-faced man, turned of sixty years old. Of great piety and charity." Macky, Characters in the Court of Queen Anne (Swift's additional comment in italics).
  3. [AF] The Lady Coventry. [MR] Margaret Tufton, sister of the second Earl of Thanet, married to Lord Coventry in 1653.
  4. [MR] Hothfield, the family seat of the Tuftons in Kent. The five daughters of Thomas, the sixth Earl of Thanet, married early and into noble families, thus maintaining the reputation of the family for "illustrious Hymens."

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom