I On Myself Can Live

Longleat, Godmersham, and Wye (Continued)

Alexander Pope's Grotto, 1963 photograph (1963)

So too was the poetic non-juring Bishop Thomas Ken living at Longleat; he had arrived in 1691 and in a sense never left; death took him away in 1711 (DNB, "Ken, Thomas," 30:400-1). One can see how Heneage and his fellow-non-juror would have been in sympathy with one another; almost immediately upon becoming Earl of Winchilsea, Heneage allowed himself to be recorded as a witness of consecration ceremonies for non-jurors and a little later also took into Eastwell now that it was his home churchmen who had been deprived of their incomes (McGovern 84; Cameron 194). Ken's influence on Ann may not be thought lucky by some, but the sublime style of her 1703/4 "Pindarick Poem upon the late Hurrycane" and its concluding "Hymne" imitates a style and attitude of mind first found in Ken and similar devotional versifiers of the 1690's (MS Finch-Hatton 143-54; Fairchild II: 98-106, 236-41). The four years or so at Godmersham were clearly broken by as much as a year at Longleat. [n5].

These long, and according to both Ann and Heneage, desolate comfortless years at Godmersham and Wye were also made more endurable by occasional visits and projects with other small networks of friends and family members. Nine poems by Ann commemorate visits to or events in the lives of the people living at Eastwell, Hothfield House, and Roydan Hall. There are four from Eastwell; all are centered on the heir, and praise or thank him almost too lavishly.

Three are somewhat datable. The first, an elegy to Lady Maidstone on her son, now the third Earl's birthday, occurs towards the end of the Finch-Hatton volume and was recopied with into the Folger volume (MS F-H 283, 12-4, MS Folger 14). Its awkward or stilted quality, the formality of Ann's approach to the mother, and the uncomfortable praise for the heir and his lineage suggest it occurred early in an improving relationship with the Eastwell family but well after Charles had reached 21. The second shows considerable poetic growth on Ann's part and real friendship with Charles, partly because here she feels she can tease him a bit, as she is not sure all the improvements are improvements; it occurs only in Folger (46-8) and its heading, "Upon my Lord WINCHILSEA's converting the Mount in his Garden to a Terras, And other Alterations, and Improvements, In His House, Park, and Gardens" enables us to date it because on February 22, 1702, from Eastwell Robert Southwell wrote a letter boasting of the third Earl's new "very fine gardens which added to the beauty of the Park makes it a very fine seat" (Reynolds 419n). The third, known only in Pope's printed 1717 version, Ann's "Invocation to the southern winds" (quoted in Chapter Two), shows Ann and Heneage at Eastwell waiting with the rest of the family for Charles's return from a visit to Holland on April 12, 1703; it reveals that Charles had been gravely ill and his family was worried about him (1717 Pope's Own 118-23).

The last was printed by Reynolds as a prologue to Aristomenes; but it occurs only in the Folger and is an epistle to Charles, written well after Ann completed the play to thank him for allowing her to read it aloud to him "at Eastwell in Kent" (MS Folger 133). While some have taken this as showing Charles was an important patron or encourager of Ann's writing, Ann deprecates her talent and excuses herself in terms which suggest Charles Finch, whose preference was by more than one cotemporary said to be definitely for "low" bawdy comedy, (Cameron 88), had to be cajoled into hearing the work:

... lett not this poor Poem, quite dispair,
The country asks but plain, and homely fare;
And if this please, by a good winter's fire
More then a visite from a niegh'bring squire,
Or tedious sheet, of doubtful news from Dyer,
The Writer's too well, paid for all her pain,
Who'll now begin, in King Cambyses' strain,
Heroicks, such as Falstaffe heretofore ...
But 'twill appear, in spite of all inditing,
A Woman's way to charm is not by writing

(MS Folger 133)

That the "Epilogue" is squeezed into a small space in the Folger on a blank page much later than the original copying out suggests it was written some time after Ann's performance; it is a depressed abject apology with lines which show Ann's audience had been anything but kind:
An Epilogue, after a tedious Play,
Is like the last long mile in dusty way,
That trys your patience, and that wearies more,
Then all the irksome road you passt before

(MS Folger unnumbered)

Ann, as remarked above, resorted to saying the only reason she had written this was that she had had to live at Godmersham. It was Godmersham drove her to it.

The extant poems on Ann's visits to Hothfield House also number four; there was a fifth which was destroyed; all are or were in the Folger volume. Three are not datable, although the first, "The Petition for an Absolute Retreat" to Catherine Cavendish Tufton, Lady Thanet, refers to Ann's visit to Hothfield House between 1689-91. This is well- known, even if only, as shown above, in the 1713 censored version; directly after it in the Folger is another "Petition," four pages long, which begins similarly: "Give me, oh!--" But this has not only been crossed out and then hatched over, a white sheet is pasted over the whole which has faded into the original censored piece revealing its presence which only chemical intervention (if that) can retrieve (MS Folger 220-33). The third is known today only in a censored fragmentary form, as "Enquiry After Peace. A Fragment" which was how it was printed in the 1713 Misc from which Reynolds took her copy (1713 Misc. 154-5; Reynolds Poems 67-8). It was actually originally "incerted in a letter to" to the same Lady Thanet, and is part of a set of sheets whose pagination shows they were added later to the Folger, as an afterthought; it almost, so to speak, didn't make it in at all. Its heading in the Folger volume is "an enquiry after Peace; and shewing that what the World generally persues, is contrary to itt."

Much in the manner of Ann's epistle to Lady Worsley, this epistle to Lady Thanet is profoundly sad; we will see again and again that after a visit from a friend or to a friend Ann would become deeply depressed. This poem has slightly maddened (or hectic) quality; its brilliance lies in its spontaneity and tight four-beat couplet form. It is a kind of incantation to and allegorical picture of what peace is not rather than investigation of what peace is. I print it because it deserves to be accurately known:

Peace, where art thou to be found,
Where, in all the spacious round,
May thy footsteps be persued?
Where, may thy calm seats be view'd?
On some Mountain doest thou lie
Securely, near the ambient Skie,
Smiling at the Clouds below,
Where rough Storms, and Tempest grow;
Or in some retired Plain,
Undisturb'd does thou remain.
Whre no angry whirl-winds passe,
Where no streames oppresse the grasse,
High above, or deep below,
Fain I thy retreate wou'd know;
Fain, I thee alone wou'd find
Balm, to my ore'wearied mind;
Since what here to World enjoys
Or our Passions most employs,
Shakes thy Empire, or destroys.
Pleasure's a tumultuous thing,
Busy still, and still on wing;
Fed by Luxury and Vice
Midnight Revells, Balls, and Dice;
Flying swift from place to place
Darting from each beauteous Face;
From each strongly mingl'd Bowle
Through th'inflam'd and restlesse Soul.
Sovereign Pow'r, who fondly craves
For one King, makes thousands Slaves;*
Stands the envy of Mankind,
Peace in vain, attempts to find.
Thirst of Wealth no Quiet knows,
But near the Death-bed fiercer grows;
Wounding Men with secret Stings,
For Evils it on Others brings,
War, who not discreetly Shuns,
Thorough life, the Gauntlet runs;
Swords, and Pikes, and Waves, and Flames
Each, their stroke, against him aims.
Love (if such a thing there be)
Is all Dispair, or Extasie
Poetry's the raving fitt,
And ferment of unruly Witt--

(MS Folger 65-6)

1713 Misc omitted lines 23-3 and 32-5, possibly because they were seen as a Jacobite criticism of the Orange court at London; an interesting sidelight here is the second set of omitted couplets suggest Ann had recently been in London.

Ann's two other poems commemorating times with the people of Hothfield House are deeply affectionate tender pieces about Lady Thanet's older daughter, Catherine Tufton, Ann's "Serena." We can date them because we know Serena, the first surviving daughter of Lord and Lady Thanet, was born April 24, 1692. The first was written in response to a letter Serena wrote Ann, "the first Letter that Ever she Writt." Children began to write short notes or letters around the age of 5 to 6; since the poem is one of the last in the Folger Volume, written in Heneage's late shaky hand, one supposes Ann gave it to Serena who kept it, perhaps until in 1708 when she married a Whig lord, Edward Watson Viscount Sondes, when Ann lost contact with her (MS Folger 298-9). The second attracted Wordsworth's notice who printed it in an abridged version; it is a poem for Serena's birthday, and by the description of the young girl as well as the supposition in it that she will be capable of reading it, Serena would be about 8 to 10. The beauty of this poem, like those Ann later wrote for the two Thynne girls, suggests Ann longed for a daughter. The lines Wordsworth particularly admired are introduced by several (which he omitted) on Serena's "Mother" and aunt, a Lady Margaret Tufton, with whom Ann identifies because Serena "more then as a Niece endears." This poem ends on a celebration of Hothfield, which in the manner of so many of Ann's poems, places its central figure, Serena, as its center as its best indwelling spirit (MS Folger 242-4).

Ann and Heneage also seem to have been part of a network of more or less Jacobite friends which included the Twysdens of Roydal Hall, a large beautiful manor also in the Weald of Kent, and one of a group of the gentry houses that included Eastwell that aroused the central government's suspicions repeatedly (Everitt 31 50, 62). The Twysdens and Finches went back a long way. There was more than one marriage. The first was the marriage of a daughter of Sir Moyle and Elizabeth Heneage Finch, Anne Finch, to a Sir William Twysden (Thomson, Twysden Lieutenancy Papers, ix; I'Anson 55; 1903 Reynolds 423) whose son Sir Roger, a lawyer, had been a deputy lieutenant of Kent and "very affectionate" friend to Heneage's father during the second Earl's lieutenancy. Sir Roger combined loyalty to the Stuart monarchy with a willingness to suffer the consequences of standing up for what he conceived were the liberties and rights of the individual vis-a-vis the state (Thomson, Twysden Lieutenancy Papers, 11-4, 167, 25-7); his son, Sir William Twysden had in 1696 been accused of participating in a plot to assassinate William of Orange, and under compulsion by the King's Bench been forced to sign onto an association in defense of William (Hinnant 254; Brower, A Tradition 66; 1903 Reynolds xl)

On this man's death on November 29, 1697, Ann wrote a beautiful and moving elegy from a "sad awaken'd heart" which shows she was familiar with his most intimate daily life, his taste in books, his and his father's brand of politics. She likens herself to Spenser mourning a "second Asphodel;" she challenges Milton's "Lycidas" as shallow because its pastoral ceremonies rehearse an optimism about life which is untrue. She laments the loss of the individual mind, the loss of "old Traditions" and of "great, and of Illustrious Men" which she makes him a cynosure for. But the poem is not all it should be; Reynolds' text taken from the Folger volume (Ann never printed this poem) leaves the impression that we have the whole of Ann's poem; we do not; in the Folger volume the final five lines of the poems are obliterated by a relentless tight cross-hatch. (MS Folger 229-32).

The appearance of two series of poems by Ann and Heneage's activities and letters suggest one or both of them also visited London and numbered Londoners among their friends. In 1696 in London Naham Tate printed twelve anonymous poems in a series in his Miscellanea Sacra or POEMS on DIVINE & MORAL SUBJECTS; six are documentably Ann's since they also occur in the Finch-Hatton and Folger volumes; the other six, all but one headed "by the same hand," remain unknown (82-122 [n6]). All twelve texts are excellent, and can only have come from some manuscript deliberately given to Tate, ultimately from Heneage and Ann. The first six poems are among the earliest to appear in the Finch-Hatton book, and thus represent Ann's first attempt to gather her poetry; of the last six, five are autobiographical and show the strong influence of Katherine Philips's lesser-known verse meditations; the sixth, a Jacobite imitation of a French tragedy, is like her personal meditation, "Affliction," obscured in the series of long often dull poems which Tate presents as Christian propaganda against a new atheism. Alas, she gathered some of her most conventional poems to start with, and then made them duller by obscuring their origin and political and personal content, an mistake which augured badly for the future.

Five years later Charles Gilden brought out his 1701 New Miscellany. As numbers of the poems tells us, it is the product of a closely-knit group of friends who display their friendship to one another in the volume; the group includes many Londoners and Ann whose "Spleen" is made prominent by Nicholas Rowe's introductory poem praising this and Ann's pindaric on vanity, which, however, does not appear. There is the ardent Jacobite and London wit and politician, William Shippen, who weighs in with four poems. His poem in praise of Ann's pindarics on the Spleen and Vanity and her "Epistle from Alexander to Ephestion" prefaces the Folger volume. There is Nicholas Rowe, an ardent Whig, though sometimes a trimmer too. Two of the poems in the volume are those Ann received at Wye. George Granville contributes two poems; Henry St. John, Matthew Prior, and Richard Steele, John Dryden each appear with one poem (Cameron 113-5; 150-2ns, App C).

At the head of all this is the only poem attributed to Charles Finch, with his title of "the third Earl of Winchilsea" prominently displayed over the title of the volume's opening poem. It is most unlike the kinds of poetry he was known to like. The claim is made that this poem is an imitation of Bion from the Greek, but a comparison of this text with a French translation of Bion by Hilaire-Bernard de Requeleyne, seigneur of Longpierre proves the poem to be a translation of Longepierre; this kind of translation from a French translation is Ann's way and the impassioned eroticism of the piece together with its occasionally delicate sense of the ephemeral suggests it is a piece of apprentice work in pastoral [n7; AppA]. Gilden's book has throughout a self-consciously literary feel: it is overwhelmingly mad eup of translations and imitations. Cowleyan Pindarics, Horatian odes and epistles, and pastoral dialogues abound. Thus John Philips' superb Miltonic parody, "The Splendid Shilling" (212-21) fits right in, as does Ann's unacknowledged "Spleen" and "A Pastoral between Menalcus and Damon, on the Appearance of the Angels to the Shepherds" (60-80).

What is intriguing about this "highly curious book," to use Iolo Williams' phrase, is the number of oddities which seem there to cover up names of authors; for example, just around the pages on which those anonymous poems by Ann which might have been recognized as hers the signatures suggest the book had other pages (or leaves) which were omitted or changed or some reason. Perhaps Ann's other Pindaric praised by Rowe was originally intended for this volume; her elegy to William Twysden would have fit perfectly, so too her "Upon a Punch-Bowl" in the Folger (MS Folger 35), of which there are several such gay pieces in this volume (e.g, 338). It's possible the other five poems which lie scattered in two groups were divided to keep the authorship unknown to all but a very few people (Williams 234-6).

Among these five is a witty epistle to George Granville, later Lord Landsdowne, which suggests Ann was in London in 1696. The poem is printed in a series of three by Ann, the second of which is the autobiographical Orinda-like "Retirement," the third, a companion song to a song known to be by her because it appears in both the Finch-Hatton and Folger volumes, and is among the 18 by her in the 1724 Hive (App. A). The epistle to Granville is on The She-Gallants, a comedy which was damned in 1696 and seen no more. Although this epistle may have been written or revised for publication closer to 1701 because its author looks forward to the coming time when James's daughter Ann will replace William and Granville will be able to write poetry worthy this "great Patroness of Wit," the text also shows the author has seen and approves of a comedy about chaste assertive females--an attitude which recalls Ann's in her epilogue to Jane Shore. Other attitudes in this epistle recall Ann: the poet venerates Virgil and pastoral and decries sycophants and court politics (1701 Gilden 285-7 [App. A]). Elizabeth Handasynde suggests the play failed because Granville was at the time considered an important pro-Stuart politician--he had also written a series of poems in praise of Mary d'Este (Handasynde 9-11, 28-31, 39- 41). Granville was related to the Thornhills at Ollantigh; and the confluence of relationships is suggestive and may be connected to Heneage's political activities in 1701, which may have lead to Ann's poems appearing in Gilden's volume in that year.

We know that Heneage visited London in 1699 when Lord Weymouth gave him new medals to add to his collection (Cameron 139, 259n5). Two years later Heneage stood for Parliament three times, the first time in October of 1701 for the borough of Rochester in the County of Kent. As McGovern describes it, the time was ripe for a "seasoned Jacobite:" William was old and ill and he and his war were unpopular; James II had died; a group of justices of the peace from Kent had joined with some whigs to demand that funds first be "aproved for military supplies to protect England" (89-90). Heneage was, however, unsuccessful; McGovern attributes this to a change in public sentiment towards William; but one should recall that in the unreformed house of Commons, where a seat in Parliament was up for bribes and looked upon as means of personal advancement, a particular borough franchise would reflect the make-up of that franchise; these varied greatly in themselves and over the decades, depending on individual relationship between patrons and candidates and electors. Ready money was a must, and there was no salary when the candidate won. More needs to be known about Heneage's own relationships with other individuals in the other family's who controlled the votes in the borough of Rochester before we can judge why he lost each time he stood (Porritt I:1-98).

The achievement of these years was of a different nature; it was private, moral, and hard-won; the book that Ann and Heneage created during this decade--the Finch-Hatton volume--is its real witness. During this time of Ann's illness, Heneage moved from encouraging her to write to encouraging her to write at great length and copy out her work for preservation; more he helped her to copy out much of her earlier poetry and some of the poetry she was writing at the time into the small manuscript volume. This name is a misnomer and misleading; it is a result of the purchase on November 16, 1887, of a small manuscript book of poems by George William Finch-Hatton, the fourth Earl of Nottingham and ninth of Winchilsea, because as the first page tells us in Ann's hand, "Poems on Several Subjects Written by Ardelia [previous A name erased]," annotated in Heneage's hand, "Ardelia was Anne, Countess of Winchilsea ... her poems published by John Barbour, London 1713." Together with many of the Finch-Hatton family papers he deposited it in Delapre Abbey, Northamptonshire. A more appropriate name might be the Godmersham-Wye book. Cameron is one of the rare students of Ann's poetry to have studied this octavo, in morocco binding with gilt edges (Reynolds lxxxiii) carefully, and he said simply--and correctly--"the octavo MS is in two hands--Ann's and Heneage's" (122)

Ann's part in the book is demonstrated by a comparison of the handwriting from the 1st through the 89th page of the Finch-Hatton volume with that of the one later poem we have clearly marked as written by Ann, "On a Short Visit inscrib'd to My Lady Worsley" in the Portland papers to be found today at Longleat (MS Portland XIX 304-7). The same oddities of letters dominate both. The "e's" are strikingly odd and they and the beginning "r's" are Elizabethan-Jacobean; the many of the other letters are curiously stilted in the same ways: the "p's," "w's," capital "j's" and "l's." The difference is that in the Finch-Hatton Ann is a younger woman who is copying out a fair copy slowly, in a large rounded hand as if drawing the letters, making her book for posterity as it were; in the Portland papers she is an older woman writing a first draft, hastily, just to get her thoughts down a first version. The hand is much less steady, and very careless. The poem is deeply unhappy and the writing reflects the writer's mood as she writes.

Similarly a comparison of the handwriting from the 89th to the last page of the Finch-Hatton book, of the scribe of a great deal of the Folger (e.g., MS Folger 41-3, 211-18, 244-53, 260-9), of the writing from p. 123 to the end of the Wellesley volume, and the hand known to be Heneage's in his personal diary shows he wrote all these. The same hand also copied out other scattered texts, for example, the four more in 19th volume of Portland papers (MS Portland XX: 5-12, 34-6); and the one sent to Richard Steele, known to readers of Reynolds's volume as "To Mr Jervas," to be found today on a loose sheet among the Jonathan Swift papers in the Pierpont-Morgan library (MS Pierpont Morgan).

Heneage writes in the more modern or fashionable italic hand; he is far more practised, far more relaxed, careless at times, a kind of scrawl which gets worse the older he gets. Cameron said that "the Gosse [Edmund Gosse once owned the Folger] MS is in Heneage's hand with occasional corrections by Anne" (122), This is perhaps an exaggeration because in the Folger book there does seem to be a third hand, another more graceful scribe (e.g., MS Folger, 1-39), but sometimes this graceful scribe seems to turn into Heneage in a sloppy mood and back again into Heneage within a given series of poems (e.g, MS Folger 43-6, 219-43). Heneage's hand is, however, certainly dominant as the one which "corrects," the better word is censors, the poems in the Folger, though Ann's scrawl (her "e's" again) may be detected in the censoring process too.

We should pause a bit to consider the revolution in thinking that went behind Heneage's change from disapproval to encouragement to collaboration. The first change may be dated from a poem which in the 1713 Miscellany is said to have been "written in 1689," "To Daphnis," probably from their London days before the debacle; its subheading tells of the change: "Who going abroad, had disired Ardelia to write Some Verses upon whatever Subject she thought fit against his return in the evening (MS Folger 56)." Colonel Finch had yielded and his present is the teasing and charming poem which is today familiar to readers of Reynolds as "To Mr. F. Now Earl of W." (Reynolds, Poems 20-3). The second change is in the second half of the Finch-Hatton volume, and, were it not for Heneage we would not have most of Ann's later poems; the laborious work of fair copying out was his job. That Ann throughout her life with Heneage felt less contented emotions about him then people have been willing to give her credit for, we shall see; but one emotion she felt about her husband that remains constant in the poems which can be dated from about 1696 to the end of her life was gratitude. He had not failed her.

She had not failed herself. Although many fine poems were still unwritten, had it been the Finch-Hatton volume rather than 1713 Miscellany by which Ann first became known to her reader, she would have been better understood and her real gifts better appreciated. Of the 59 separate pieces copied out, 16 are lovely secular and personal narrative lyrics, two are exquisite translations from the French Tasso, nine are attractive carefully labeled personal epistles, the seven on her own state of mind are not obscured ("To Death," "On Grief," "On Affliction," "On my Selfe," "Parting with Beauty," "To Melancholy." "To Sleep" [nowadays "Clarinda's Indifference," "Ardelia to Melancholy," "An Invocation to Sleep"]), three of the five poems Reynolds lumped together as romantic and late by placing them at the back of her volume number appear ("The Birde," "To the Echo," "The Tree"), the disillusioned allegories of the fall of James and Mary d'Este are here (including "The Change"), so too is Ann's poem lamenting the defeat of the hated Scottish Jacobite General, John Graham of Claverhouse, printed together with her paraphrase of the 137th Psalm (61-8), a lament for the Jacobite scots exiled from their homes, the three devotional lyrics which are successful appear together and come early in the volume ("One Easter Day," "A Preparation to Prayer," and "Hallelujah," 10-5). There are some less successful pieces of religious paraphrase and the later pindaric on the hurricane, but this volume is not dull, not conventional, not self-stifled. Ann's poems on a sexual betrayal she experienced as a maid of honor and on her temporary separation from Heneage were at least originally preserved.

The book was, however, never intended for publication; the first poem is the one Ann titled "The Introduction," and is familiar to most readers; since Reynolds placed it second in her edition (Reynolds Poems 4), it has often been printed at the head of Ann's poems or as indicative of woman's position in the 18th century and today since Reynolds placed it second in her edition [n8]. Ann writes that she did not "intend" the poetry in this book :"for publick view," that she is deeplty hurt by carping criticism of any kind. In the first section of this poem she refers to both Heneage's and her family's early responses to her poetry in which they quoted the common sneers of her own period at her and at her poetry; the words rankled badly; in the second she takes heart in the great joy of a David who "after God's own heart,/By him inspir'd, and taught the Muses art" sung so splendidly and with intense self-fulfillment, and in Deborah who dwelt under a tree and lead her people in song (the reference is to Judges 4:4-10, 5:31). She ends on her insistence that she will live within herself and apart from the world: "For Groves of Lawrel, thou wert never meant,/Be dark enough they shades, and be thou there content" (MS F-H 283, 1-5). It is not regrettable that she continued to believe in living apart and follow her own bent, or that she wrote her best poetry out of this point of view; it is regrettable that with respect to this book she has had her way.

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