I am strongly persuaded this poem is by Anne Finch. It comes from MS Harleian 7316, 69v: Untitled, "We did attempt to travell all Last night". This is the ninth in a series of fourteen poems by, to and describing the intimate circle of people surrounding Heneage and Ann Finch. For full listing of series, see 'To Coleshill Seat of Noble Pen'.
See Annotated Chronology No. 253 (1718-20). The poem is in Finch's vein and takes the form of her early self-communing fragments, "The Losse" and "The Consolation" or, as separated out from "By neer resemblance see that Bird betray'd," "So here confin'd, and but of female Clay," mood now content, joyous to see good friend. What is most strikingly persuasive is internal and therefore hard to demonstrate except on the reader's impulses: tone, prosody, phrases. The poem fits into what Carol Barash calls the poetry of abjection that we find in Finch's earliest autobiographical as well as later verse (e.g., the host's cottage though humble is the best of places to come to because safest". This recalls the close of The Shepherd and the Calm and other fables; the rejection of ambition and determination "to reign here alone." There is also a reference to "Nance" who the writer looks forward to seeing; I suggest this is Ann Fleming, and the visit is to Colehill, Warwickshire. The reader might laugh, but I see a reference to Heneage's gout, age, and obesity in the last line. The man could not travel as far as was needed to reach his wife's friend, although he tried to.
Untitled Lines, from MS Harleian 7316, p. 69v.
We did attempt to travell all Last night,
The Moon was perish [sic] but the Stars gave Light
And Steer'd us to your Cottage fair & Bright.
We have brought you foreign Wine, Your friends to Grace
Wine that will Bask & Sparkle in their face
As also purest Nance,* the Flower of France
Will make a Parson & a Butcher Dance
We have likewise brought a Flash of Rumm
I dare to Say the best in Christendom
But best of all because it's Safe come home.
I have Viewed your Cotage, could I call it my own
I'd Scorn a Spanish, nay a Brittish Throne,
And Sway my Scepter, & here reign alone.
*Ann Fleming is called "Nanny" in the ballad "Sullen Green or Wully's farewell Tune Moggy Lauder" ("Ah! fare thee weel dear Sutton Toon"), there (and whereever else mentioned) associated with her musical abilities.
One last comment: the last line of the poem has Ann's typical rhythms; the thoughts typical of her; the mood of subdued happiness hers too.
Page Last Updated: 8 January 2003.