A Celebration of Women Writers

"An Epistle from a Gentleman to Madam Deshouliers" 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. 171-173.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

An EPISTLE from a Gentleman to Madam Deshouliers, returning Money she had lent him at Bassette, upon the first Day of their Acquaintance

Translated with Liberty from the French.{1}

URANIA, whom the Town admires,
  Whose Wit and Beauty share our Praise;
This fair URANIA who inspires
  A thousand Joys a thousand ways,
She, who cou'd with a Glance convey
  Favours, that had my Hopes outdone,
Has lent me Money on that Day,
  Which our Acquaintance first begun.

[Page 172]

Nor with the Happiness I taste,
  Let any jealous Doubts contend:
Her Friendship is secure to last,
  Beginning where all others end.

And thou, known Cheat! upheld by Law,
  Thou Disappointer of the craving Mind,
BASSETTE, who thy Original dost draw
  From Venice (by uncertain Seas confin'd);
Author of Murmurs, and of Care,
  Of pleasing Hopes, concluding in Despair:
To thee my strange Felicity I owe,
  From thy Oppression did this Succour flow.
Less had I gained, had'st thou propitious been,
  Who better by my Loss hast taught me how to Win.
Yet tell me, my transported Brain!
  (whose Pride this Benefit awakes)
Know'st thou, what on this Chance depends?
  And are we not exalted thus in vain,

[Page 173]

Whilst we observe the Money which she lends,
  But not, alas! the Heart she takes,
The fond Engagements, and the Ties
  Her fatal Bounty does impose,
Who makes Reprisals, with her Eyes,
  For what her gen'rous Hand bestows?

And tho' I quickly can return
  Those useful Pieces, which she gave;
Can I again, or wou'd I have
  That which her Charms have from me borne?

Yet let us quit th' obliging Score;
And whilst we borrow'd Gold restore,
Whilst readily we own the Debt,
And Gratitude before her set
  In its approved and fairest Light;
Let her effectually be taught
  By that instructive, harmless Slight,
That also in her turn she ought
  (Repaying ev'ry tender Thought)
Kindness with Kindness to requite.

[Page 174]

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom


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] Madame Deshoulières (Antoinette de Ligier de la Garde) was one of the chief female poets of France. Her works were published in 1687-88, and again in 1695, the year after her death, by her daughter. The letter here translated is included in her works and is there entitled Lettre de M. De Senecé, premier valet-de-chambre de la Reine, à Mme Des Houlieres, en lui envoyant de l'argent qu'elle lui avoit prête à la Bassette.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom