From Harleian 7316, pp f82-5, also in 1741 Prior's Miscellaneous Works, together with Finch's other poem to Matthew Prior. This is the fourteenth and last of fourteen poems in a series of poems by, to and describing the intimate circle of people surrounding Heneage and Anne Finch. I place it here for the reader's perusal as possibly by Finch. For full listing of series, see 'To Coleshill Seat of Noble Pen'.

See my Annotated Chronology No. 261 (after March 1719). Here is the thinking behind my possibile attribution: as in Finch's early poem to Prior, Finch talks as someone far away from the person she is writing to; in her poem to Richard Thornhill, she again speaks of how she exists apart from other poets she admires. As in Finch's poems to Catherine Fleming that precede this one, Finch is very serious about verse; she attributes depth of inspiration to it; she admires Prior's Solomon. Much of this seems very much in Finch's vein and consistent with her attitudes in her other poems; there is much prosody, imagery and tonal nuance which recalls her other serious or grave poetry. It is a highly polished piece; reading it and considering it as Finch's makes one wonder how many of her poems which we read as finished are really in a draft stage. She never really believed a given poem would come out into the public and was always ambivalent about publication. She followed her gift, wrote, and then, I suggest, would often leaves the lines in some semi-finished state, satisfied with at least the self-expression. That much life had given her. However, that it is so polished, is a strong argument against the attribution. Also, would not she have been proud to have written such a poem? It should appear elsewhere. However, that the reader may at least have this text, here it is. It shows in what high estimation Prior was held by Finch's circle.

An Epistle to Mr Prior on the New Edition of His Works, pp. 81v-85r.

Whilst H--ley with more near approaches blest
Enjoys thy Genius as he shares thy Breast
Can View thy Soul when freely breaking forth
In all the Changes of it's Native Worth,
Can hear thy Wit as from thy Self it flows,
And see the Poet Live whose Works he knows,
So that when e'er he reads thy Publick Song,
His thoughts with Pleasure dwell upon thy Tongue
For as thy Lines do various Passions raise
Thy Vital Image in his Fancy Plays
He feels a Warmth Peculiarly confin'd
To those who have Access to read thy Mind
When Generous Friendship does with Mirth conspire
To animate they Sense, and Light thy fire.

I at a distance do thy Labours scan
And only in the Muse conceive the Man
I trace the Author in his matchless Lays
Those Monuments of everlasting Praise
Cast his bright Image in a fainter Mould
And darkly in that Glass his Face behold
Pardon great Prior if my Artless draught
Preach not Perfection it is only thought,
A Painter oft attempts a Face unseen
And Strickes the Canvas with a fancy'd mien
The Fame of Beauty makes his Colours flow
And I wou'd faine describe that worth methinks I know,

First then thy easy flowing Measures Prove
A Temper smooth and Sweetly fram'd for Love
They shew a tender heart and gentle Mind
Fill'd with good Nature Generous and kind,
Soft as a Feather Plucked from VENUS Dove,
Soft as the Wings that bear the GOD of Love
So well you write Your Wounds from Cupids Dart,
In Eloquence of Love so void of Art
Your Lines beguile me and I Lose my heart.
A Silent Passion Glides into my Breast,
I make Your Case my Own and think I'm blest
And wo'd the unkind Fair consent to read
Wo'd She Submit to hear her Lover Plead
In Spite of all her Pride and al her Charmes
She'd bend her Stubborn Neck into thy Armes
Chloe wo'd soon relent and tamely chuse
To be a Captive to thy Powerfull Muse
Thy Verse a Subtile Poison wo'd instill
By Art Unseen, and Unsuspected Skill
Such Soft Attacks her Weakness wo'd betray
And force a heart of Flint to melt away
We read how Orpheus rouz'd the sleeping Stone
Did soften Sullen Rocks and melt them down
How Wildest Woods did forme a Comely Train,
Obey his Pipe and Dance upon the Plain,
How Savage Beast by Magick Numbers harm'd,
Of all their Native fierceness were disarm'd
The Lyon and the Bear at Once became
Forgetfull of their Rage and Gentle as the Lamb
And what is Musick but the Poets Rhime
Waked into Tune and Managed into Time
Verse is but Harmony in Silence bound
And Poetry is known to speak in Sound.
Next when I read what you inscribe a Tale
There I find pleasing Mirth and Wit Prevaile
The Story runs in such familiar Strains,
With so much humour and so little Pains,
That I am inclined to think 'tis only Prose
And that in tunefull Rhime thy Language flows,
Poems like these disclose a Chearfull Mind
And mark out One whom Nature has designed,
A fine Companion and delightfull Friend.
The Noblest Lord with Fortunes smiles caress'd,
That Shines in State, and is with Plenty bless'd
Wo'd he improve his Wit his Taste refine
Sweeten his Life with Pleasure drink his Wine,
And Vacant hours agreably beguile
And in the misery of Grandeur Smile,
He'd take thee to his Breast and gladly joyn,
In closest Amity his Soul to thine,
What neither Pomp, nor Wealth, nor Power, can give
For what is Luxury and what is Pow'r,
What are the Blessings of a Golden Show'r,
Without those purer blessings which we find
Rise form Discourse and entertain the mind,
The great Maecaenas who had all the State
That Rome & princely Favour co'd create,
Yet often to his Horace wou'd retire,
Quit Caesars Court to hear the Poets Lyre,
And if the Sage Pythagorus Spoke true
The Soul of Flaccus is alive in you
Horace and Prior distant Ages know
Yet both One Spirit & one genius shew
The Muses sure did o'er their birth preside
And Natures Hand in their Production guide
Did their first Rudiments of Life inspire
With equal Sweetness mixed with Equal Fire
Now I so'd rise to a more lofty Theme.
From Love and mirth ascent to the Sublime
Did not thy Paulo still retard my Flight,
And make me hover there with fond delight,
Paulo a peice inimitably fine,
Just is the thought and easy is the Line
Humour and Wit in purest form appear
At once to mend the Heart and Charm ye Ear
Wives are there taught, what Does a Wife become
Not to be chast abroad and Lewd at Home
For Publick Vertue is an empty Name,
Unless the private Conduct is the same,
An outward Form is but a shame disguise
To cover hidden Vice from mortal Eyes,
True modesty is that which is unsen,
A Secret Spring of Purity within,
So a false Coiner when his Matal's base
Does on its Surface Stamp the Royal Face,
Borrowed the Image of the Current Coin
To Cheat the World and Cover his designe,
A Gilded out'Side makes the Fraud to pass,
And what we take for Gold is only Brass,
Well hast thou sung our Wise Creator Praise,
And told his mighty Works in Lofty Lays
There we are taught to tremble at his Name,
And to approach with Awe so great a Theme,
Surely thy Muse has something of Divine,
That durst so soon set bounds to Reasons Line,
That doth the Proud Philospher controul,
And check the Schemes of his Aspiring Soul
That Cou'd describe with such a Master Skill
How all things rose from the Almightys Will
How Various Worlds may fill the boundless Space,
Tho man cannot define their form or Place,
How all Our Thoughts are Impotent and Lame
When we presume to guess at Natures Frame,
And the Same Youth with more consumate Art,
Is Afterwards Pursu'd in every Part,
When Solomon from Holy Writ you bring,
A Great Philosoper [sic] and Potent King,
One who had all that Nature could bestow,
And all that could from fortunes bounty flow,
Of Beauty Knowledge, and of Empire too,
One Who (We read) was eminently Wise
And saw beyond the reach of Mortal Eyes,
Whose Wisdom did not from instruction grow,
Nor did it move as human Learning flow,
But was at Once infused into his Soul
By Beames of Heavenly Light that filled the Whoole
And yet when Natures Garden you display
And the bast Compass of the World Survey
How Short is all that Knowledge and how Blind
The Vain Ambition of a feeble Mind
Nor Let the daring Libertine Confide
In what his boasted Pleasure can Provide
For Solomon can tell that this is vain
And the highest Pleasure is a Gilded Pain,
If Abra whom the Strongest Pasison Warm'd
Who was with all the Power of Beauty Arm'd
Who knew to make address wiht Softest Art,
And with most Subtile Skill to touch the Heart
If this fair Concubine and Hundreds more
Whom that great Monarche had laid up in Store,
Could not give quiet to his restlesse Mind,
Where can the Libertine that Quiet find,
False is that Happiness which springs from Lust
Various as Wind, and Volatile as Dust,
Call now the Monarchs who divide the Globe
And are distinguished by the Purple Robe
Bid them behold thy Solomon and own
That Happiness is not the Jewell of A Crown
Shew them an Instance there of Soveraign Sway
Whom great and mighty Nations did Obey
Who could the Wildest Luxury Suplly
By Pillaging the Earth the Sea the Sky
Who shone in all the Glittering Pomp and Pride,
Of those who o'er these Necks of Subjects ride
Saw Millions Trembling with a Servile Awe
And Tamely from his Will receives the Law,
And let them see how Importent was Pow'r
To shed pure Blessing on a Single Hour,
How Richest Crowns with a false Lustre Glare
And do no yield Us Glory but a Snare,
How for the Surface only they are design'd
To Grace the Body not compose ye mind,
But I forbear for why shou'd I Abuse
The Noble Genius and Deform thy Muse,
A Partial Transcript is a Public Fraud,
It Robs true Worth and Sends it Poor abroad,
It does thy Sense imperfectly convey
And only Stammers what it means to say,
So a fine face no Painter can designe
By the Rude traces of a Naked Line,
The Colours only can Perfection give,
Express the Aire and make the Canvas Live
Go on (Great Prior) the same Steps pursue
Much to thy self and to the World is Due
Resume thy Pen and hang not up thy Lyre
Since thou hst still the same Poetick Fire,
For many Subjects still remain unSung,
Among the great the Wise the Fair the Young,
Which to thy Muse peculiarly belong,
Apollo freely will thy Harp restore,
Write while Love lasts and we will Ask no more.

Final thought: so many of the rhyme words are those Finch uses in other poems; the earnest morality is hers, the image words and tone.

Page Last Updated: 8 January 2003.