The sixth of ten poems in Steele's 1714 Miscellany which begin and end with poems by her; this one is possibly by Anne Finch. The poet criticizes the fashonable taste for opera and in particular for castrato, Nicolo Grimaldi; she points to the ambiguous frisson involved and calls it erotic debauchery; she is influenced by Steele (partly jealous because his concerts in York Building suffered a loss of audience) and Addison (angry at failure of Rosamund but always fair to Nicolini whom he praised for beauty of voice), and generally patriotic dislike of Italian opera over Shakespeare. She is ever fascinated by the eyes, by sound; opening line of last stanza recalls other of her lines. Many of the lines are formed like hers in other of her poems, the rhythms and vocabulary are closely reminiscent.

See Annotated Chronology No 173 (June 1712).

On Nicolini's leaving the Stage, pp 44-45

Begin, our Nation's Pleasure and Reproach!
Britain no more with idle Trills debauch;
Back to thy own unmanly Venice sail.
Where Luxury and loose Desires prevail;
There thy Emasculating Voice employ,
And raise the Triumphs of the Wanton Boy.

Long, ah! too long the soft Enchantment reign'd,
Seduc'd the Wise, and ev'n the Brave enchain'd;
Hence with thy Curst deluding Song! away!
Shall British Freedom thus become thy Prey?
Freedom, which we so dearly us'd to Prize,
We scorn'd to yield it--But to British Eyes.

Assist, ye Gales; with expeditious Care,
Waft this prepost'rous Idol of the Fair;
Consent, ye Fair, and let the Trifler go,
Nor bribe with Wishes adverse Winds to blow:
Nonsense grew pleasing by his Syren Arts,
And stole from Shakespear's self our easie Hearts.

Comment: Finch seems to like the phrase, "Assist, ye Gales" and uses it repeatedly (a poem to Charles Finch, the Earl of Winchilsea, her Pindaric on the hurricane, her pastorals come to mind).


Page Last Updated: 8 January 2003