What dogs can do & what they'd say


the puggs. a dialogue between an old & young dutch Mastiff.

Primary Text:

MS Wellesley, 50-4.

Secondary Ed:

1988 Ellis d'Alessandro prints Wellesley text, 83-6; McGovern & Hinnant, 5-9.


Derives from an Aesopic type of dog fable (second line is "The Fable writers do convey"), in which one dog asks the other, "how can you fawn over a master who strikes you," and is told "I am nonetheless the gainer," e.g., L'Estrange, "A Spaniel and a Sow," Pt 1, No. 293,; also his 1699 Fables and Storyes Moralized, "Two Old Dogs and Two Young," No. 79; and 1727 John Gay, Fables, "The two Monkeys," No. 40.


1910 Dowden prints from Wellesley text, 236-7, lines 5-16, 237, lines 106-13; 1993 McGovern prints Wellesley text, 194-8.


This Aesopic goes on for much too long, and the focus is unclear. On the one hand, Finch laughs at her sadness (the younger dog has a "face ... too melancholy for your years") and at any moral stances or ideals ("Fondness dear pug is all a jest ..."). On the other, this is a moral and probably late Jacobite fable. The old dog talks about how his "race but [recently] traded./'Till we our neighbors' rights invaded."

This old Dutch favorite probably forms a half-allusion to the 1697 scandal in which William Bentinck, Duke of Portland, saw himself openly replaced in William III's "affections" by Arnold Joost van Keppel, made Earl of Albemarle (who himself was later threatened by the King's mistress, Elizabeth Villiers). The dog also represents the poet herself: he tells the young one how he "came to the town but young," "lived on the other side of the water" (the Thames), and is now come back to his "old quarters" (back to behind St James Palace, this time in Cleveland Row): "My age these changes oft has try'd/Now hugg'd & priz'd shut up & hamper'd/Then lash'd & spurn'd & gladly scamper'd/Or cring'd ..." The tone and style is sometimes that of "The Misanthrope," again Anne Finch is genial and writing gentle domestic comedy about herself, her varied life, and her servants.


This has to have been written after 1697. However, those who are invading their neighbors' rights could be the Hanovers (or those replacing the Scots Jacobite Tories). McGovern finds an allusion to Sir Andrew Fountain in the poem which she does not specify (I can find none) and says he moved from Leicester Fields in May 1711, and so she dates the poem before 5/1711. Yet the style and tone that of Anne Finch's later work, e.g., "The Misanthope". The rate books for Westminster are missing from the years 1708-18 when Heneage does appear. The poem occurs early in the Wellesley MS, and my guess is 1714-5 soon the 1713 Miscellany and its reprint. Like many of Finch's poems, this one simply includes references to events which occurred years before it was written.
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