A Celebration of Women Writers

"To Mr. F. Now Earl of W." 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. 272-277.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

To Mr. F. Now Earl of W.

Who going abroad, had desired ARDELIA {1} to write some Verses upon whatever Subject she thought fit, against his Return in the Evening.

Written in the Year 1689.

No sooner, FLAVIO, was you gone, {2}
But, your Injunction thought upon,
  ARDELIA took the Pen;
Designing to perform the Task,
Her FLAVIO did so kindly ask,
  Ere he returned agen.

[Page 273]

Unto Parnassus strait she sent, {3}
And bid the Messenger, that went
  Unto the Muses Court, {4}
Assure them, she their Aid did need,
And begg'd they'd use their utmost Speed,
  Because the Time was short.

The hasty Summons was allow'd;
And being well-bred, they rose and bow'd,
  And said, they'd poste away;
That well they did ARDELIA know,
And that no Female's Voice below
  They sooner wou'd obey:

That many of that rhiming Train,
On like Occasions, sought in vain
  Their Industry t'excite;
But for ARDELIA all they'd leave:
Thus flatt'ring can the Muse deceive,
  And wheedle us to write.

[Page 274]

Yet, since there was such haste requir'd;
To know the Subject 'twas desir'd,
  On which they must infuse;
That they might temper Words and Rules,
And with their Counsel carry Tools,
  As Country-Doctors use.

Wherefore to cut off all Delays,
'Twas soon reply'd, a Husband's Praise
  (Tho' in these looser Times)
ARDELIA gladly wou'd rehearse
A Husband's, who indulg'd her Verse,
  And now requir'd her Rimes.

A Husband! eccho'd all around:
And to Parnassus sure that Sound
  Had never yet been sent;
Amazement in each Face was read,
In haste th'affrighted {5} Sisters fled,
  And unto Council went.

[Page 275]

Erato cry'd, {6}since Grizel's Days, {7}
Since Troy-Town pleas'd,{8} and Chivey-chace,{9}
  No such Design was known;
And 'twas their Bus'ness to take care,
It reach'd not to the publick Ear,
  Or got about the Town:

Nor came where Evening Beaux were met
O'er Billet-doux and Chocolate,
  Lest it destroy'd the House;
For in that Place, who cou'd dispence
(That wore his Cloaths with common Sense)
  With mention of a Spouse?

'Twas put unto the Vote at last,
And in the Negative it past,
  None to her Aid shou'd move;
Yet since ARDELIA was a Friend,
Excuses 'twas agreed to send,
  Which plausible might prove:

[Page 276

That Pegasus of late had been {10}
So often rid thro' thick and thin,
  With neither Fear nor Wit;
In Panegyrick been so spurr'd {11}
He cou'd not from the Stall be stirr'd,
  Nor wou'd endure the Bit.

Melpomene had given a Bond, {12}
By the new House alone to stand,
  And write of War and Strife;
Thalia, she had taken Fees, {13}
And Stipends from the Patentees,
  And durst not for her Life.

Urania {14} only lik'd the Choice;
Yet not to thwart the publick Voice,
  She whisp'ring did impart:
They need no Foreign Aid invoke,
No help to draw a moving Stroke,
  Who dictate from the Heart.

[Page 277]

Enough! the pleas'd ARDELIA cry'd;
And slighting ev'ry Muse beside,
  Consulting now her Breast,
Perceiv'd that ev'ry tender Thought,
Which from abroad she'd vainly sought,
  Did there in Silence rest:

And shou'd unmov'd that Post maintain,
Till in his quick Return again,
  Met in some neighb'ring Grove,
(Where Vice nor Vanity appear)
Her FLAVIO them alone might hear,
  In all the Sounds of Love.

For since the World do's so despise
Hymen's Endearments and its Ties, {15}
  They shou'd mysterious be;
Till We that Pleasure too possess
(Which makes their fancy'd Happiness)
  Of stollen Secrecy.

[Page 278]

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. ARDELIA was the poetic name of Anne Finch.
  2. FLAVIO was one of the poetic names for Heneage Finch, Anne Finch's husband (also Daphnis or Dafnis.)
  3. Parnassus was a Mountain in Greece sacred to Apollo and the Muses.
  4. The muses were nine sister goddesses of Greek mythology who presided over song, poetry, and other arts and sciences.
  5. [AF] The MusesErato, Melpomene, Thalia, Urania, &c.
  6. Erato was the Greek muse of lyric and love poetry.
  7. Grizel was a model wife referred to in medieval literature.
  8. Troy: Ancient city of Homer's Iliad.
  9. Chivey-chace likely refers to "Chevy Chase", a popular medieval ballad.
  10. Pegasus is a winged horse of Greek mythology, associated with poetic inspiration.
  11. Panegyrick is a eulogistic oration.
  12. Melpomene is the Greek Muse of tragedy.
  13. Thalia is the Greek Muse of comedy and pastoral poetry.
  14. [AF] Urania is the Heavenly Muse, and suppos'd to inspire Thoughts of Virtue.
  15. Hymen is the Greek God of marriage.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom