A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Eagle, the Sow, and the Cat" 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. 212-215.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

[Page 212]

The Eagle, the Sow, and the Cat.

THE Queen of Birds, t'encrease the Regal Stock,
Had hatch'd her young Ones in a stately Oak,
Whose Middle-part was by a Cat possest,
And near the Root with Litter warmly drest,
A teeming Sow had made her peaceful Nest.
(Thus Palaces are cramm'd from Roof to Ground,
And Animals, as various, in them found.)
When to the Sow, who no Misfortune fear'd,
Puss with her fawning Compliments appear'd,
Rejoicing much at her Deliv'ry past,
And that she 'scap'd so well, who bred so fast.
Then every little Piglin she commends,
And likens them to all their swinish Friends;
Bestows good Wishes, but with Sighs implies,
That some dark Fears do in her Bosom rise.
Such Tempting Flesh, she cries, will Eagles spare?
Methinks, good Neighbour, you should live in Care:

[Page 213]

Since I, who bring not forth such dainty Bits,
Tremble for my unpalatable Chits;
And had I but foreseen, the Eagle's Bed
Was in this fatal Tree to have been spread;
I sooner wou'd have kitten'd in the Road,
Than made this Place of Danger my abode.
I heard her young Ones lately cry for Pig,
And pity'd you, that were so near, and big.
In Friendship this I secretly reveal,
Lest Pettitoes shou'd make th' ensuing Meal; {1}
Or else, perhaps, Yourself may be their aim,
For a Sow's Paps has been a Dish of Fame.
No more the sad, affrighted Mother hears,
But overturning all with boist'rous Fears,
She from her helpless Young in haste departs,
Whilst Puss ascends, to practice farther Arts.
The Anti-chamber pass'd, she scratch'd the Door;
The Eagle, ne'er alarum'd so before,
Bids her come in, and look the Cause be great,
That makes her thus disturb the Royal Seat;

[Page 214]

Nor think, of Mice and Rats some pest'ring Tale
Shall, in excuse of Insolence, prevail.
Alas! my Gracious Lady, quoth the Cat,
I think not of such Vermin; Mouse, or Rat
To me are tasteless grown; nor dare I stir
To use my Phangs, or to expose my Fur.
A Foe intestine threatens all around,
And ev'n this lofty Structure will confound;
A Pestilential Sow, a meazel'd Pork {2}
On the Foundation has been long at work,
Help'd by a Rabble, issu'd from her Womb,
Which she has foster'd in that lower Room;
Who now for Acorns are so madly bent,
That soon this Tree must fall, for their Content.
I wou'd have fetch'd some for th' unruly Elves;
But 'tis the Mob's delight to help Themselves:
Whilst your high Brood must with the meanest drop,
And steeper be their Fall, as next the Top;
Unless you soon to Jupiter repair,
And let him know, the Case demands his Care.

[Page 215]

Oh! May the Trunk but stand, 'till you come back!
But hark! already sure, I hear it crack.
Away, away---The Eagle, all agast,
Soars to the Sky, nor falters in her haste:
Whilst crafty Puss, now o'er the Eyry reigns,
Replenishing her Maw with treach'rous Gains.
The Sow she plunders next, and lives alone;
The Pigs, the Eaglets, and the House her own.

Curs'd Sycophants! How wretched is the Fate
Of those, who know you not, till 'tis too late!

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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] William King in Art of Cookery, chap. 9, in his pretended excerpts from a great work by Caelius Apicius, puts emphasis on the sumptuous dishes prepared by the ancients from "hog-meat" in various forms. Apicius is represented as lauding the "liver, lights, brains and pettitoes" of a black China pig, and as speaking of a dish much in favor with certain Roman emperors, one of the elements of this dish being "a wild sow's hock and udder."
  2. [MR] "Measles" was a name for several diseases of swine or sheep. Butler (Hudibras, Part I, Canto II, l. 688) has: "As e'er in measled pork was hatched." Tusser (Good Husbandry, chap. 17) has:
    Hog measled kill
    For Fleming who will,
    With evident derogatory estimate of the discrimination of the "Flemings".

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom