Protect the State and let old England thrive


The prodigy. A poem written at Tunbridge Wells Anno 1706 on the admiration that many expressed at a Gentleman's being in Love, & their Endeavours to disswade him from it, with some Advice to the Young Ladies how to maintain their natural preprogative. By Lady W--

Primary Text:

MS Additional 4457, 54r-55r.

Secondary Eds:

1741 Birch, X, 179; rpt of 1741: 1903 Reynolds, 142- 4; rpt of 1903 Reynolds: 1930 Fausset, 68-9; 1979 Rogers AF, 101-3.


1706 "The Tunbridge Prodigy" on a broadsheet, the other side of which contains "To the author of the Tunbridge prodigy."


How different for women when "Spencer, Sydney" and "Waller lov'd"! now ladies must be cunning and not sell too quickly for too little. The poem is addressed to women and manifests the same wary, distrustful and competitive view of sexual relationships as Finch's "Epilogue" to the Tragedy of Jane Shore: "The audience seems to night so very kind . . . " Finch assumes courting and sexual behavior is amoral. In the epilogue, false piety destroys what joy women can get; here being friendly and kind only leads to contempt and lowering one's value. The "prodigy" is a man who respects women, but he too comes in for some sneering. Very uncomfortable stuff. Anne was writing lampoons and making socially subversive comments here; thus these poems survive in fragments or in manuscripts.


MS copied out after August 1712 (close to the time of Jane Shore?), so this text may represent a revision of the original poem of 1706.
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