Call Delia Whore, Friends guard & Foes infest
MS Harleian 7316, 118 (original number, unlike other poems in this MS not given a new number consistent with gathering; the handwriting is that of the other poems in this series, but a new thicker pen is used; it appears as if this sheet was inserted after the renumbering; a final instance of indecision over what to censure).
Secondary Eds: None. Never printed.
Comment: This series of epigrammatic verses is tentatively attributed to Finch as seventh in the series of 14 poems in MS Harleian 7316. I admit the raw invective and density of contemporary reference is unusual for Finch, but not the blunt harsh disdain of a society where accurate lampoons of the corrupt. The poem also ends in a backtracking typical of Anne Finch: "Still may my theme be praise, nor e'er agen/Let keen invective edge my Stabbing Pen." Other harsh verse of this type is attributed to her in the period she was writing lampoons at Tunbridge Wells ("Fragment at Tunbridge Wells"; in this earlier town satire, we also find specific references of the kind we find in "Delia" (e.g., "Old Brown! with thy Chalybeats,/Which keep us from becoming Idiots"). The poem demonstrates a knowledge of religious controversies and writers which Finch reveals knowledge of in other of her unknowledged anti-atheistic poems. The poem may be read as a Jacobite-Tory poem which finds "Whig diligence" just another aspect of the absurdity of the world. The poem mayy also be read as a harsh summary of another age of hypocrisy, deceit, and stupidity; the kind of poem Dryden more lightly and famously wrote at the end of his career (e.g. the last lyric in The Secular Masque, "All, all of a piece throughout ...").
Date: "Delia" could be any apparently powerful woman of the period. Some of the references go back to 1691 (John Dunton) and 1703 ("till De Foe no more deserves the Pillory"). Tindal's earliest publication was his 1706 Rights of the Christian Christian Church; Sarah Churchill, Richard Steele, Mrs Manley ("Till Secret Histories from Lies are free"), Harley, Argyle (John Campbell, the 2nd Duke who crushed the Jacobite uprising in 1715), Wharton (whether Thomas, the ruthless Whig leader or his son, Philip) do not delimit the poem to a specific year in the 1710's. I opt for late in Anne Finch's life because of the appearance of this poem among other poems by Finch which all dated from 1718.
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