How plain dear Madam was the want of sight


After drawing a twelf cake at the Hon ble Mrs Thynne's (in Additional 4457: "To the Hon ble Mrs Thynne after twelfth Day 1715 By Lady Winchilsea")

Primary Texts:

MS's: Wellesley, 91-2; Additional 4457, 60* (with change in penultimate line 42: "Is blind as Fortune that has wrong'd us all").
"How plain dear Madam was the Want of Sight
On Fortune Charged seen at your House last Night
Where all our Lots were govern'd by Mistake
And nothing well proportioned but the Cake

First for the Crown on which the rest depend
On Higgins shou'd that glorious wreath descend
Were she to govern in a Kingly sort
'Twould quite reverse the Nature of a Court
Her generous Heart the Treasury wou'd drain
And none by her shou'd live or die in pain
Good Humour, Wit and pleasure she'd promote
And leave the merry Land not worth a Groat

Were I a Queen as Fortune has design'd
'Twould suite as ill with my retiring mind
Who after all aspiring Iffs & Ands
Shou'd leave the Cliffs and sink into the Sands

If Winchillsea's a Knave where's his Estate?
His larger House? his Equipage? his plate?
His Mastery in Law & over Delay
Which sweeps his patience & his pence away?
A Knave without all these is poorly made
And wou'd Disgrace the beneficial Trade

But farther She has err'd beyond all Rule
In Giving Thynne what I'll not name the ---
In all her List of patents and Decrees
Where some grow vain on Names and some on fees
She cou'd have found no Title so unfit
Or such a Foil to her establish'd wit

To fair Maria in her blunder'd scene
She gave the Slut tho' Ermin's not so clean
O'er all her Charms a youthfull Lustre spreads
Which on her Dress reflected Brightness Sheds
As phoebus gilds whatever's in his sight
And makes (like her) all cheerful by his Light.

This Simile I hope you'll think is fine
For verse where neither Sun or Stars do Shine
Is blind as Fortune that has wrong'd us all
Whose Gifts on real Fools and Knaves will fall."

Secondary Ed:

1988 Ellis d'Alessandro reprints Wellesley text, 121- 2; McGovern & Hinnant, 60.


Playful yet biting. Fortune, ever blind, gives everyone the wrong cards; "Mrs Higgons" (Mrs. Thynne's companion-servant); drew the king; Anne, the Queen; Heneage, the knave; Mary [Thynne], the slut, and Mrs Thynne, the fool; in the great world outside, her gifts, of course, fall on the real knaves and fools. For further commentary, click here.
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