With all respect and humble duty


The white mouses petition to Lamira the Right Hon: ble the Lady Ann Tufton now Countess of Salisbury

Primary Text:

MS Wellesley, 92-3.

Secondary Ed:

1988 Ellis d'Alessandro prints Wellesley text, 122-3; McGovern & Hinnant, 62.


This is written very much in the manner of Madame Deshouliers, whose poetry in the last modern edition begins with a series of (coy) poems from a cat to a cat, a dog to a cat, a rooster to a cat; in several of these various mice are discussed; see, e.g, "Epitre de Tata, Chat de Mme de la Marquise de Montglas, a Grissette, Chatte de Mme Deshouliers, in the 1801 Paris Oeuvres (3 vols), I, 58. Mme Deshouliers' poetry was first published in one volume in 1688; a second volume was added in 1695; this pair was reprinted in London 1707-11, and in Paris in 1747. There followed many reprints and expansions until about the middle of the 19th century when interest in Mme Deshouliers waned.


1910 Dowden prints from Wellesley text, 240, lines 5-14; 1992 McGovern 209-10.


Ann Tufton (Lamira) was the second surviving daughter of Thomas and Catherine Cavendish Tufton (Arminda), Lord and Lady Thanet, born August 9, 1693, married at age 15-16 in 1708-9. This poem is meant to be playful and coquettish; but to this reader it seems rather coy and clinging, uncomfortably creeping. There is something uncomfortable going on here. Finch is not yet a Countess, not sure of herself; and she is a much older woman. Yet her status is lower as the young girl has the title. This poem though began a deep friendship which brought forth two of Ann's best poems ("A Nocturnal Reverie" and "On the death of the Queen" [Mary of Modena]). It may also be that the female world of "love and ritual" so famously described by Carroll Smith-Rosenberg does not come out well through the animal metaphor.


Written between 1707 and 1709, as poem supposes a young lady who has not yet captured any man's attention but is expected to do so soon, and by the heading was written before Ann Tufton married.
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