A Celebration of Women Writers

"Man's Injustice Towards Providence" 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. 208-211.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

Man's Injustice towards Providence.

A Thriving Merchant, who no Loss sustained,
In little time a mighty Fortune gain'd.
No Pyrate seiz'd his still returning Freight;
Nor foundring Vessel sunk with its own Weight:
No Ruin enter'd through dissever'd Planks;
No Wreck at Sea, nor in the Publick Banks.
Aloft he sails, above the Reach of Chance,
And do's in Pride, as fast as Wealth, advance.
His Wife too, had her Town and Country-Seat,
And rich in Purse, concludes her Person Great.

[Page 209]

A Dutchess wears not so much Gold and Lace;
Then 'tis with Her an undisputed Case,
The finest Petticoat must take the Place.
Her Rooms, anew at ev'ry Christ'ning drest,
Put down the Court, and vex the City-Guest.
Grinning Malottos in true Ermin stare;
The best Japan, and clearest China Ware
Are but as common Delft and English Laquar there.
No Luxury's by either unenjoy'd,
Or cost withheld, tho' awkardly employ'd.
How comes this Wealth? A Country Friend demands,
Who scarce cou'd live on Product of his Lands.
How is it that, when Trading is so bad
That some are Broke, and some with Fears run Mad,
You can in better State yourself maintain,
And your Effects still unimpair'd remain!
My Industry, he cries, is all the Cause;
Sometimes I interlope, and slight the Laws;

[Page 210]

I wiser Measures, than my Neighbors, take,
And better speed, who better Bargains make.
I knew, the SmyrnaFleet wou'd fall a Prey,
And therefore sent no Vessel out that way:
My busy Factors prudently I chuse,
And in streight Bonds their Friends and Kindred noose:
At Home, I to the Publick Sums advance,
Whilst, under-hand in Fee with hostile France,
I care not for your Tourvills, or Du-Barts,
No more than for the Rocks, and Shelves in Charts:
My own sufficiency creates my Gain,
Rais'd, and secur'd by this unfailing Brain.
This idle Vaunt had scarcely past his Lips,
When Tydings came, his ill-provided Ships
Some thro' the want of Skill, and some of Care,
Were lost, or back return'd without their Fare.
From bad to worse, each Day his State declin'd,
'Till leaving Town, and Wife, and Debts behind,

[Page 211]

To his Acquaintance at the Rural Seat
He Sculks, and humbly sues for a Retreat.
Whence comes this Change, has Wisdom left that Head,
(His Friend demands) where such right Schemes were bred?
What Phrenzy, what Delirium mars the Scull,
Which fill'd the Chests, and was it self so full?
Here interrupting, sadly he Reply'd,
In Me's no Change, but Fate must all Things guide;
To Providence I attribute my Loss.

Vain-glorious Man do's thus the Praise engross,
When Prosp'rous Days around him spread their Beams:
But, if revolv'd to opposite Extreams,
Still his own Sence he fondly will prefer,
And Providence, not He, in his Affairs must Err!

[Page 212]

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom