Who e'er of Satyre does my pen accuse
On my being charged with writing a lampoon at Tunbridge
Primary Text: MS Wellesley, 100-2*.
Secondary Ed: 1988 Ellis d'Alessandro prints Wellesley text, 131-3; McGovern & Hinnant, 75-6.
Comment: Finch defends herself from the charge on the grounds she had attacked no particular individual. Perhaps that's so, but as we can see from what has survived from this era, she did indeed write hard satire, e.g., "The Prodigy" and Epilogue to the Tragedy of Jane Shore. She first implied in the fragment "FOR He, that made, must new create us", and now explicitly argues that, given human nature, to write satire is useless. She identifies a line of serious satire (not lampoons which are unworthy anyone) from Juvenal to Donne, and then says such poems changed no one. She proceeds to praise five women whose strengths lead her to discuss her inadequacies; by end the poem's close she identifies with a "lonely shepherd" who when, "Failing day/Compells to borrow Vulcan's lightsome ray" and finds "some rude flint has kindled up the flame/Returns it to the heap from whence it came." Her conclusion: Tunbridge satires ought to be dumped into an eternal "oblivion." Deep sad note at end with characteristic imagery of hidden light (fire) gleaming in a cave, yet she has defended herself vigorously in a good poem.
Date: In the poem Anne Finch praises four Tunbridge "belles" (Effingham, according to a letter by Lady Hertford, dead by June 1718, Hern, Warner, and Hornby) and one young Finch girl, someone recently grown-up and for the first time receiving male attentions; there are only two candidates: the two daughters of Elizabeth Ayres Finch (the dowager Countess of Winchilsea) by Heneage Finch, the 2nd Earl (Anne's Heneage's father), a Cecilly and and another Ann (Anne/Ann was a frequent name in the Finch family from the later 16th through the 18th century). Since Heneage's father died in 1689, and courting began around 16 to 18, this poem too was written in 1706, during the same stay as the above "Tunbridge" satires.
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