"To the Rt Hon ble ye Ld Viscount Hatton &c [original longer title erased and written over in heavy ink in Heneage's hand]; "To the Right Hon: ble the Lord Visount Hatton by way of excuse for my having not in sometime replied to his last copy of verses in which he gives himself the name of Corydon not approved by me who in this Poem offer at an imitation of Madame Deshouliers in her way of Badinage."
Two distinct versions: MS Wellesley: 105-7 [with superscription: "This is again transcribed at p. 115"]; and 115-7 [with subscription: "N. B. This is transcribed from a corrected copy found since the former at page 105 was written."]
1988 Ellis d'Alessandro prints both Wellesley texts, 137-9, 146-9; McGovern & Hinnant, 86-88, 99-102.
The individual addressed is William Seton, 2nd Viscount Hatton, born 1690, died 1760. This William Seton was the eldest son of Christopher, Viscount Hatton, by his third wife, Anne Kingsmill Finch's's cousin, Elizabeth Haselwood Hatton (daughter of her mother's brother), with whom Anne and her sister Bridget, and brother, William, all lived as a children in Northamptonshire. This Elizabeth Haselwood Hatton wed Lord Christopher in 1685 and Anne Finch stayed in them in 1688. Christopher, 1st Viscount Hatton was also connected to Heneage as he was also groom of the bedchamber to James II at the same time as Heneage and received the DCL at Oxford in May 1683.
The 1st version of 94 lines is simpler, more private and sharply criticizes Hatton for calling himself Corydon and playing at phony pastorals. The poem refers to Anne's "safest private drawer" where she keeps her poems and poems others send to her. The second version, 105 lines, has more Thomsonian lines and is much softened so that it ends on a panegyric of Hatton and other members of the Haselwood Hatton and Finch groups, and their homes: Burleigh in Rutlandshire was home to Heneage's cousin, Daniel, and his wife, Ann Hatton Finch (who was a daughter of Christopher by his first wife, Cecilia Tufton). Both versions of the poem refer to happenings in London: verse comes as swiftly to [our] Anne Finch as Hatton's comments about "who went with you to the Park/Or at the Play-House."
In both versions she writes: "Whilst I who've been the Muses drudge/E're since that I cou'd write or judge…" She is much familiar with the poetic countryside of Virgil; this is described in the homiest of terms: "When I the Hampshire downs have trac't/And hear his woodenhutt was plac'd/Which Virgil might have call'd a shed." The problem is the 1st Viscount doesn't make an appropriate shepherd, though the poet admits she prefers lace to "rugg." She describes her drawer as a "cabinet of Indian wood/Which drops the gum call'd Dragons blood" and says she would not have "lent" the "lines" he sent "Its safest drawer."
The Christopher Hatton to whom the poem is address died in 1706. Thus the terminus ad quo for a first version must 1706. It was then much revised and the interest of the poem is in what it reveals about Anne's prosody and methods -- as well as home life and relationships with those around her.
Although Anne Finch can be found using Madame Deshouliers in 1707-9 ("The white mouses petition ..."), this present or extant first version of this poem has to have been written even later, let's say around 1712, because of the reference in it to Anna, William's young full sister. This Anna's mother was also Elizabeth Haselwood Hatton. This Anna was born 1698-9. The poem suggests Heneage was charmed by her when she was 7 and now that she is beginning to show the first signs of womanhood, a "Ripning bloom [which] Foretells what conquests are to come" (11-12). It was also after 1710 that the Earl of Nottingham resided in Burleigh.
The second version of the poem has a very different feel. It is far more "worked up" and uses poetic diction which looks forwardto her later epistle to Lady Hertford on her demanding a poem from Euseden ("To ... Frances countess of Hartford who engaged Mr Eusden to write upon a wood ... ", 1718, Annotated Chronology, No 256).
What we see here is a woman whose family mildly but not very admiringly tolerates her penchant for writing verse -- as long as her teasing remains within the bounds of admiring them. Anne's revision placates. The poem also becomes detached from the initial situation and becomes an object for Anne to play with, work up and revise in its own right. It's never finished properly because she does not imagine it will see the light of day in a public literary marketplace. We can see here that a great deal of her unhappiness came from stress from the people around her, how important Heneage Finch's support must've been, and how significant her getting a title and control of her own space so that she could move out to become a published poet.
Page Last Updated 8 January 2003