From MS Harleian 7316, originally p 118 (no new number). The seventh in a series of poems by, to and describing the intimate circle of people surrounding Heneage and Anne Finch. This is a poem which may or may not be by Anne Finch; only a couple in this vein (her Tunbridge satires) survive. For full listing of series, see 'To Coleshill Seat of Noble Pen'.
See also Annotated Chronology No. 269. This poem is another offered for the reader's perusal as possibly by Anne Finch. This raw invective and density of contemporary reference is unusual for Finch, but not unique. It occurs in the Tunbridge poems, and the blunt harsh disdain of a society where accurate lampoons of the corrupt and powerful only leads to people crowding near that person all the more (the theme of the piece) is very like her; so too the ironic inference the poet derives: therefore "Still may my theme be praise, nor e'er agen/Let keen invective edge my Stabbing Pen." In Finch's "Fragment at Tunbridge Wells" she also says satire is useless; there too we find harsh invective and many specific references of the kind we find in these lines (e.g., "Old Brown! with thy Chalybeats,/Which keep us from becoming Idiots"). The poem shows a knowledge of religious controversies and writers which may be inferred from Anne's many arguments against the "varieties" of "atheism" or "free-thinking" in her period. The poem can also be seen as a Jacobite-Tory poem which finds "Whig diligence" just another aspect of the absurdity of the world. "Delia" could be any powerful woman of the period; some references go back to 1691 (John Dunton) and 1703 ("till De Foe no more deserves the Pillory"); Tindal's earliest publication was his 1706 Rights of the Christian Christian Church; Sarah Churchill, Richard Steele, Mrs Manley ("Till Secret Histories from Lies are free"), Harley, Argyle (John Campbell, the 2nd Duke who crushed the Jacobite uprising in 1715), Wharton (whether Thomas, the ruthless Whig leader or his son, Philip) do not delimit the poem to a specific year in the 1710's; I opt for late in Ann's life because of the appearance of this poem among other poems by Ann which all dated from 1718; the poem is a harsh summary of another age of hypocrisy, deceit, and stupidity; the kind of poem Dryden more lightly and famously wrote at the end of his career (e.g. the last lyric in The Secular Masque, "All, all of a piece throughout ...").
Untitled lines, MS Harleian, p 118
Call Delia Whore, Friends guard & Foes infest
In Verse & Prose, in earnest & in jest.
The same in every Mask & every State
Alike ingenuous, & alike ingrate.
Still may my theme be praise, nor e'er agen
Let keen invective edge my Stabbing Pen.
Til Parties cease, till Dunton scribbles Sense,
Till Tories match the Whigs in Diligence
Till low Church Harley love, & Cowper scorn,
Till bold Sacheverall shall a Coward turn,
Till Tindall shall the Christian Faith embrace
Till Commonwealth Men praise the Stuarts Race
Till Secret Histories from Lies are free
Till Perkin shall in Scotland hated be
And till De Foe no more deserves the Pillory
Till Sarah lavish grow, Argyle content,
Till Steel shall learn to blush, & Wharton to repent.
Comment: She was criticized even for the mild satire she wrote; this invective with its names a defiance? The old number suggests the poem was put back into series later; another instance of her ambivalent censoring her poetry.