A Celebration of Women Writers

"The Decision of Fortune" 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. 51-55.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

The Decision of Fortune.

A FABLE.

Fortune well-Pictur'd on a rolling Globe,
With waving Locks, and thin transparent Robe,
A Man beholding, to his Neighbor cry'd,
Whoe'er would catch this Dame, must swiftly ride.
Mark, how she seems to Fly, and with her bears,
All that is worth a busie Mortal's Cares:

[Page 52]

The gilded Air about her Statue shines,
As if the Earth had lent it all her Mines;
At random Here a Diadem she flings,
And There a scarlet Hat with dangling Strings,
And to ten Thousand Fools ten Thousand glorious Things.
Shall I then stay at Home, Dull and Content
With Quarter-Days, and hard extorted Rent?
No, I'll to Horse, to Sea, to utmost Isles,
But I'll encounter her propitious Smiles:
Whilst you in slothful Ease may chuse to Sleep,
And scarce the few Paternal Acres keep.
Farewel, reply'd his Friend, may you advance,
And grow the Darling of this Lady Chance:
Whilst I indeed, not courting of her Grace,
Shall dwell content, in this my Native Place,
Hoping I still shall for your Friend be known:
But if too big for such Acquaintance grown,

[Page 53]

I shan't be such a fond mistaken Sot,
To think Remembrance should become my Lot;
When you Exalted, have your self Forgot.
Nor me Ambitious ever shall you find,
Or hunting Fortune, who, they say, is Blind:
But if her Want of Sight shou'd make her Stray,
She shou'd be Welcome, if she came this way.
'Tis very like (the Undertaker cry'd)
That she her steps to these lost Paths shou'd guide:
But I lose Time, whilst I such Thoughts deride.
Away he goes, with Expectation chear'd,
But when his Course he round the World had steer'd,
And much had borne, and much had hop'd and fear'd,
Yet cou'd not be inform'd where he might find
This fickle Mistress of all Human-kind:
He quits at length the Chace of flying Game,
And back as to his Neighbor's House he came,
He there encounters the uncertain Dame;

[Page 54]

Who lighting from her gaudy Coach in haste,
To him her eager Speeches thus addrest.
Fortune behold, who has been long pursu'd,
Whilst all the Men, that have my Splendors view'd,
Madly enamour'd, have such Flatt'ries forg'd,
And with such Lies their vain Pretensions urg'd,
That Hither I am fled to shun their Suits,
And by free Choice conclude their vain Disputes;
Whilst I the Owner of this Mansion bless,
And he unseeking Fortune shall possess.
Tho' rightly charg'd as something Dark of Sight,
Yet Merit, when 'tis found, is my Delight;
To Knaves and Fools, when I've some Grace allow'd,
'T has been like scattering Money in a Croud,
To make me Sport, as I beheld them strive,
And some observ'd (thro' Age) but Half-alive;
Scrambling amongst the Vigorous and Young,
One proves his Sword, and One his wheedling Tongue,
All striving to obtain me right or wrong;

[Page 55]

Whilst Crowns, and Crosiers in the Contest hurl'd,
Shew'd me a Farce in the contending World.
Thou wert deluded, whilst with Ship, or Steed,
Thou lately didst attempt to reach my Speed,
And by laborious Toil, and endless Pains,
Didst sell thy Quiet for my doubtful Gains:
Whilst He alone my real Fav'rite rises,
Who every Thing to its just Value prizes,
And neither courts, nor yet my Gifts despises.

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Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom