To all you sparkling Whiggs at Court


A New Ballad To the Tune of All You Ladies now at Land &c

Primary Text:

MS's: Harleian 7316, 58v - 59v*; Portland XX, 5-8. Never printed.


Attributed as possibly by Finch or possibly by Elizabeth Tollett; for Susanne Dunlap's argument that it is by Elizabeth Tollet, click here

It is the first in a series of 4 poems in the same hand in MS Portland XX (which looks like Heneage's last shaky hand), the other three of which are Finch's ("To Mrs Catherine Fleming at ye Lord Dygby's at Coleshill in Warwickshire," which this precedes, "To the Lord March upon the Death of his Sparrow," and "To the lady ... Who having desired me to compose Some thing upon the foregoeing Subject [for Celia]," none of which are ascribed to anyone. It is the eighth in the series of 14 poems in the MS Harleian 7316 (see "To Mrs Catherine Fleming at ye Lord Dygby's at Coleshill ...). It is also the fourth ballad in the MS Harleian, and explains an otherwise enigmatic reference in the ballad to Coleshill: "But of the court no more but mum;" that is Finch wrote two city ballads. It is ascribed in Harleian "To Mrs Eliza Tollet;" but it has never been included in any collection of Elizabeth Tollet's verse, and is unlike her more frequent couplet heroic art: Tollett tends to write in grave 18th century slow-moving couplets or stanzas which are overwhelmingly in lines, mostly couplets, of 10 syllables). It is rather in the same stanzaic pattern as Finch's two ballads to Catherine, complete with the familiar refrain of her other ballads: "with a fa la &c;" and the model for Finch's two other ballads using this refrain is here Charles Sackville, Earl of Dorset's 1665 "Song, Written at Sea, in the First Dutch War, 1665, the Night before an engagement, "To all you ladies now at land."

It is a also a Tory pro-Stuart poem, not a probably open stance for Tollet, but typical of Anne's Jacobitism and frequent references to her time at the Stuart court. Finchho never wholly stopped writing in the modes of the court of Charles II; it is satire on the Whigs at court; while some of the references go back to William's reign, the appearance of Lady Mary Villiers, daughter to Edward Villiers, Earl of Jersey, a Tory, famously complimented in verse by Matthew Prior, who was also first bethrothed to a Henry Thynne in 1710 and then married, Lord Lansdowne provides a final pair of biographical connection to Finch.


Very late 1718 - early 1719, time of her other ballads to Catherine Fleming; Finch also refers to "We Torys in the Tower;" this is the period of the trials of Harley (whose daughter is praised in the poem) and other Tories.
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