The first of the eight poems which appear between two poems known to be by Finch, printed in Steele's 1714 Poetical Miscellanies. The eight printed here excludes those where there are other primary sources, i.e., 1) "To Mr Jervas" (This matchless Picture, Jervas hide"), which appears in a group of manuscripts which go under the title MSS Swift, mostly to, from and about Swift, in the Pierpont Morgan Library, unnumbered, and on the backsheets of Pope's drafts for his translation of Homer's Iliad together with a letter from Richard Steele dated July 26, 177 (ff 161v and f 162, the poem has no title); and 2) "The Sigh" ("Gentle Air thou Breath of Lovers"), which is in the Folger, MS 254. The eight poems begin with "To Mr Jervas" and end after "Upon a Company of bad Dancers to Good Musick" ("How ill the Motion with the Musick suits"), when a poem entitled "An Imitation of a French author" ("can you count the Silver Lights") is labelled "By another Hand." The 18th century reader, following the practice of the period and of this book itself, would attribute all intervening poems to "the Countess of W--."
This poem clearly says "by several hands." Finch was part of a group of poets from the 1701 Gilden. It is in the vein of her other prologues, it has her characteristic scanning and non-Popian use of the couplet; it recalls the atmosphere of her work from Gilden's 1701 New Miscellany, where she vied with and within a group of like-minded poets, tone and language recall her attitudes toward "modern wits" in her Epistle to Ephelia and in her fable "A Tale of a Miser and a Poet." She and her group are--less cruelly than the anonymous Sessions of the Poets poem quoted by Sir Walter Scott--mocking Dryden's last play, a pretty bad one, a comedy, Love Triumphant, or Nature Will Prevail, produced in 1694. They do sympathize with and feel the injustice of Dryden's having churned out yet another play from his exhausted vein in order to eat. This is also one of those poems which witness and substantiate Finch's own claim in her preface to the Folger MS and to her Triumphs of Love and Innocence to have seen and strongly responded to much of the drama of her period.
See further my Annotated Chronology No. 58.
The full listing of poems in Steele's Poetical Miscellanies, 1714:
from POETICAL MISCELLANIES, Consisting of ORIGINAL POEMS AND TRANSLATIONS by the best Hands. Published by MR. STEELE. LONDON: Printed for JACOB TONSON at Shakespear's Head over-against Catherine-street inthe Strand. MDDCXIV.
Only the seventh in the series occurs in an MS Text, "A Sigh" in the Folger MS, p 254. There is no MS text for any of the others.
This one after the series comes from Dacier's book as does "Melina on an Insippid Beauty", but it is set off from the others by a couple of hundred pages, and is not marked externally as Ann's in any way. There is a very impersonal style which prevents attribution. It is, however, possibly by Ann, taken from the same book as her other translation from Dacier, it fits all we know about her so I include the title so if anyone else is interested, he or she may investigate further.
Reynolds felt that although Nos 2-5 "cannot be certainly ascribed to Lady Winchilsea," but it does "resemble her work and maybe by her." 1903 Reynolds, p. lxxxviii
GROWN Old in Rhyme, 'twere barbarous to discard
Your persevering, unexhausted Bard;
Damnation follows Death in other Men,
But your damn'd Poet lives and writes again.
Th'adventrous Lover is successful still,
Who strives to please the Fair against her Will:
Be kind, and make him in his Wishes easie,
Who in your own Despite has strove to please ye.
He scorn'd to borrow from the Wits of Yore;
But ever Writ as none e'er Writ before.
You modern Wits, should each Man bring his claim,
Have desperate Debentures on your Fame;
And little would be left you, I'm afraid,
If all your Debts to Greece and Rome were paid.
From his deep Fund our Author largely draws;
Nor sinks his Credit lower than it was.
Tho' Plays for Honour in old Time he made,
'Tis now for better Reasons--to be paid.
Believe him Sirs, h'has known the World too long,
And seen the Death of much Immortal Song.
He says, poor Poets lost, while Players won,
As Pimps grow rich, while Gallants are undone.
Tho' Tom the Poet writ with Ease and Pleasure,
The Comick Tom abounds in other Treasure.
Fame is at best an unperforming Cheat;
But 'tis substantial Happiness to Eat--
Let Ease, his last Request, be of your giving,
Nor force him to be Damn'd to get his Living.
Comment: if this is a collaboration in which Finch took a part, the poem demonstrates that Finch was early on a recognized member of at least one milieu of poets of the period. Nicholas Rowe, William Shippen, Granville and others were all part of one set during these years.
Page Last Updated: 17 May 2004