On me then Sir as on a friend
Title: To the Rev Mr. Bedford (in manuscript original several line heading has been censured; someone has pasted over it with sheet on which the brief superscription is scrawled in Heneage's later hand)
Primary Text: MS Wellesley, 78-9*.
On me then Sir as on a friend
You say your interests now depend
And may you be no longer mine
When your least service I decline
But though my will is all on fire
To compass that which you desire
Success from others must proceed
Towards which observe my restless speed
Your note received down stairs I fly
My gown unpinned my hood awry
With Mrs Mary at my heels
Who as she this disorder feels
Here gives a twitch there aims a pin
But cannot reach to fix it in
Yet does with lengthened strides approach
And throws my ruffles in the coach
I finishing the best I can
Now drop my gloves and then my fan
As Jehu scours along the streets
And swears at everything he meets
Till to his Lordships' door he comes
Who spies me through a suite of rooms
And forward moves with courtly pace
Till noting my requesting face
He puts on a refusing air
And bids his footman call a chair
Then draws his watch -- 'tis two and past
You find me in a prodigious haste
He cries as he on tiptoe stands
Yet Madam what are your commands
I'll serve you to my utmost power
The Houses have been met this hour
Shall I conduct you to my wife
I have no interest on my life . . .
I barely hint as he goes on
Who Madam cries it can't be done
Your humble servant you forgive
You see in what a round we live
From monring hurried thus till night
Madame I hoe you take me right
When I've a moment to dispose
I'll come and heart what you propose
Make haste ye blockheads -- up they weigh
My Lord and to the house convey
Whilst i the parlour I remain
O'ercome with sorrow and disdain
Yet with a Roman virtue scorn
The Land depraveed where I was born
Where men now wealthy grown and great
En bagatell our sufferings treat
Yet still I will your cause persue
Th'unrighteous Judge the harden'd Jew
As son mght be at rest as I
Wil leave them till they all comply
Or if no good from thence I draw
They still are Jews without the Law
(MS Wellesley, pp. 78-79).
Secondary Eds: 1987 Thompson prints Wellesley (via 1910 Dowden),74-5; 1988 Ellis d'Alessandro reprints Wellesley text, 108-9; McGovern & Hinnant, 40-1.
20C: 1910 Dowden prints from Wellesley text, 241-2, lines 22-34; 1992 McGovern prints Wellesley, 204-6.
Comment: Hilkiah Bedford was a non-juring divine who had been patronized by Heneage's father; he was also chaplain to Bishop Thomas Ken at Longleat after 1691. In 1713 he was wrongly accused of writing, printing, and publishing "The Hereditary Right of the Crown of England asserted." Although Thomas Thynne, Lord Weymouth (Anne Finch's brother-in-law) tried to help Bedford, Bedford was fined and imprisoned for three years (1715-1718). He was active in seeking money for bail, and was less closely confined in 1715, but he seems to have remained in prison from after his trial of February 15, 1714, to April 23, 1718; this is a gay self-mocking narrative which laughs as it acknowledges the corruption, indifference, and inhumanity of man to man (seen in my Lord who seeing her face, puts on a refusing face, looks at his watch and hurries off, saying she should talk to his wife). The last few lines suggest the recently argued thesis (Michael Ragussis's in a book on 19th century English fiction) that the way anti-semitism was experienced was filtered through notions that the Jews all needed to be converted is correct.
Date: any time around or after February 15, 1714; but probably after April 23, 1718 when he was finally released; on April 29, 1718, Bedford is described as paying compliments to those who had solicited for him on his behalf.
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Page Last Updated 8 January 2003