MS Folger, unpaginated i-vi*.
1903 Reynolds prints Folger text, 6-12; rpt of 1903 Reynolds: 1979 Rogers AF, 8-14.
Rpt of 1903: 1991 Uphaus/Foster, 166-70.
Finch's preface strongly recalls Abraham Cowley's Preface to the 1656 edition of his poems. By 1705-6 Finch was seriously considering publishing a book of her poems with a preface as prologue. She changed her mind, perhaps around 1706. From other of her poetry we know that it disturbed her to be accused of writing lampoons or to be ridiculed. Perhaps she and Heneage felt her poems would reveal too much of her personal illness in ways that would provoke mockery. At any rate, despite the success of her Pindarics and her collaboration in 1701 Gilden, she was frightened off. "The Preface" is then yet another revised text which as we have it shows Finch apologizing and asserting her determination never to publish. This Preface is to be placed before a manuscript volume. Finch includes pieces of two poems never fully copied out, and an explanation of the fragmentary state of her translation of Tasso's Aminta. It is essential for understanding her motives, attitudes, early history as a poet, and, unless the editor is determined to arrange the poems in strict chronological order (for which there is an argument), this preface should be placed first.
From Heneage's note to Anne's preface correcting her statement that only "two short pieces of that Pastoral" appear in the Folger MS: "A scene or two more have been translated from the Italian and since added, at the end of the first part of the book," it is clear that this preface was written before the insertion of the three pieces (and the verses on peace, not mentioned in the footnote) and before most of the two earlier original plays and the second section of early and recent poems was copied out. Although it was written after the rest of the poems in this section, it is meant as their preface and is so placed.
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