I On Myself Can Live

At the Court of St. James and the Débâcle

Twenty-eight years passed between the day of Heneage and Ann's marriage and the day Heneage inherited the Winchilsea estates. And for nearly a quarter of a century Ann and Heneage were on the move, from quarters that came with a position, to borrowed houses, to leased quarters, and back again to borrowed houses or quarters in relatives' houses, all punctuated by stays in yet further houses as visitors. They stayed put from May 1684 until November 1688 in rooms in Westminster Palace, and by 1706 found a permanent home at Eastwell--this as it was now seen that Heneage was to be his nephew's heir. But they were always dependents: at first, upon the favor of an unpopular king's faction-- even as he mounted James's grasp on the throne was slipping; and at last, upon the patience of the third Earl who could yet get better and replace the young son who had died by 1705--something we must suppose Heneage or Ann wished for. When the early euphoria of love vanished, Ann and Heneage found themselves in a decidedly uncomfortable position.

For that early euphoria did indeed vanish, and there is ample evidence to anyone who looks that Ann and Heneage's bond was more than once strained to and beyond the breaking point. The favorite cliche--puzzling nowadays since those who have most recently written about Ann declare they write from a feminist perspective--that "there can have been in the whole history of love, few happier marriages than this one" (Murry, Poems, introd. 8), that all was bliss and understanding between Heneage and Ann at Eastwell (e.g., Reynolds xxix- xxvii, xxv; McGovern 38-41) may partly be a result of the anthology favorite everyone has read, "This to the Crown, and blessing of my Life" Ann's readers have liked to remember opening lines like: "The much Lov'd Husband, of a happy wife ... They Err, who Say that Husbands can't be Lovers" and forget the closing lines show the purpose of the poem was to lure Heneage home from wherever he has gone with the clear expectation he will take up the quarrel this poem is an apology for: "And I your Censure, coud with pleasure bear,/Wou'd you but soon returne, and speake it here" (MS F-H 283, 25-6, n1: cite reprintings). The reality of Ann and Heneage's actual relationship has also been obscured because the poems which testify to anger, doubt, resentment, ugly words, boredom and the rest of it remain unprinted or were censored by Ann or Heneage in various ways before publication. Probably the real source of the sentimental myth is that the people who have written on Ann have simply been uncomfortable explicating and really listening to Ann's vivid, at times sharply colloquial, at times deeply uneasy early verse on love as she saw it in others or experienced it herself.

Cameron is the only scholar who has tried to reconstruct some of the censored poetry. One such unknown poem headed "A Letter to Mr. Finch from Tunbridge wells, August 17th 1685," like Ann's poem from her days as a maid of honor, exists in a heavily crossed out form which leaves it almost, yet not quite, destroyed. It shows that a year and one-half after marriage Ann fled Heneage. The first stanza can be completely retrieved, and enough of the second to suggest that Ann is saying their love may be saved if they separate for a while and think about it; Heneage had made unacceptable "reflections" on Ann's poetry, on her or someone else's singing and Ann's admiration for this; there is the first of Ann's hundreds of references to her bad health or state of mind which she says may only be restored if they part for a while:

Daphnis no more your wish repeat
For my return nor mourn my stay,
Lest my wise Purpose you defeat,
And urg'd by Love I come away
My own desires I now can resist
But blindly yield if you persist

Not the reflections on . [m..]. p[...]
Or Singing . . . which I ad[...]
But that my Love will . . . the y[...]
Thus Separate . . . Daphnis . . .
Restor'd to health . . . I
May all my Soul . . . Love apply.

The third stanza begins with an allusion to the God of Hades as "Diss," to whom Ann imagines herself playing the role of Proserpina-- the names chosen suggests Ann is remembering a verbal picture from Milton's Paradise Lost: Prosperin gath'ring flow'rs/Herself a fairer flow'r by gloomy Dis/Was gathered (IV: 270-1). Ann is, as openly as she dares, discussing their sex life. Heneage is reminded Diss "did but Love/And by Prevailing in the Strife/Make" the couple "Joyfull." As I read her words, Heneage is accused of withdrawing from a full encounter with Ann emotionally as well as sexually. It is not that he is insufficiently aggressive but that he does not lend himself to their relationship in the way Ann says love requires. She argues that only after genuine commitment is love "approved" by which she means experienced; only then do "Wee taste and find the Springs of Life:"

Diss . . . did with . . . but Love
And by Prevailing in the Strife
Make . . . Joyfull . . . approve
Wee taste and find the Springs of Life
And thought the Muses . . .
Not . . . from Heaven . . . [...]d y[...]

Unhappily, the last two lines of this stanza about the place of the poetic impulse in all this ("And thought the Muses .../Not . . . from Heaven") has been rigorously crossed and recrossed out; so too is the final stanza, which appears to work out the mythic allusion with a reference to Ann's own beauty and Daphnis's "charms." This is as far as I can retrieve it:

All . . . d[...]y . . . expire
And . . . bus[...] . . . by [hk ..ss] [hurt?]
Joy with its . . . into the Fire
And beauty Triumphs . . . [inexpert?]
Then . . ., beautous, . . . justly Charmes
Which . . . she'll yield to Daphnis armes.

(MS F-H 283, 36-8)

What had driven a young couple who had freely chosen one another apart? Not simply sexual difficulty, or Ann's love of music or poetry, the latter of which she still freely called an "errour" in her later "Preface" to the Folger volume, one, she says, she has "pleaded" for, as "an irresistable impulse," "my excuse for writing" (MS Folger unpaginated Preface, i-ii). While Heneage's family's attitude towards a woman who came with such a small dowry is to be measured by the second Earl's angry response to Maidstone's marriage without pre-negotations to a woman of the same middling gentry class with exactly the same dowry (Cameron 229-30n25), this does not mean that Heneage felt this way. In these early lyrics Ann does not mention lack of status as an obstacle to love. It was only later that she was made to feel this; it was only later and in oblique ways that she referred in her poems to her uncomfortable position among the Finches and to her and Heneage's childlessness; and it is only very late in life before she is frank about their lack of ready money.

From her early lyrics it appears part of their difficulty stemmed from their separation for the long hours during the day in which his business was to be a courtier; that is, to please, which here seems to have meant to flirt, to laugh, to drink with the other members of James and Mary's court, in scenes Ann was no longer a witness of but described with brilliant energy and persuasiveness in her play, "The Triumphs of Love and Innocence (originally titled "Queen of Cypress, or Love Above Ambition"). Here we look at one among many brilliant court vignettes, a remembered conversation of double entendre spoken by Capriccio, here called Captain, to Carino, a young maid of honor who encourages him. If we are listening, we can hear Captain Heneage Finch telling his wife, the ex-maid of honor, Mistress Ann Kingsmill, of scenes she is no longer part of but remembers all too well.

Sing us a song, good Captain, says one;
[Imitating their voyces]
No, no says another, tell us a story of the Turks;
Oh! but was you never in love, says a third,
Yes, yes, says I, most inhumanly,
And then, I look'd leeringly thus, upon my Lady Clarilla,
That she might think it was with her.
But was you never drunk, says another
A notable pert wench that,
And came home to me, I'faith;
But says I, what in my face betrays itt?
Nay, nothing, says she
For a red nose, may be caught withstanding
Too long in the Sun, and at that
They all sett up a laugh, tee, hee, ha ,ha, ha
Which lasted a full quarter of an hour,
Without any interruption, but I was glad of that,
For itt gave me time to study an answer.
Car. And twas a good one Sure, lett's hear itt Captain?
Cap. Why I told 'em, so many tongues
Was too much, for one pair of ears,
And that, if itt was not for somebodys sake
More then their own, they shou'd have talk'd
To themselves for me
And that a man was a man and a nose a nose ...

(MS Folger [Act II], 87-8)

In this scene Ann makes merry with her boastful captain- husband who is so delighted with his own wit, and so confident that "if itt was not for somebodys sake," he would have not just talked like to them; but acted. The name Capriccio can be Englished as "whimsical," and although Heneage did not show his whimsicality publicly until late in life when he trailed around after the antiquarian, William Stuckeley, Ann knew of it early on; the name Carino is little dear one; Heneage's great weight late in life (sixteen stone) suggests he had a big frame on a tall body MS F-H 282 unpaginated 44, 8/12/23); this then is an appropriate pseudonym-nickname for Ann. In this early play Ann's shows an amused affection towards the character of the "captain," making him and the scenes in which he appears in some ways the most attractive in her play.

But in other of her early verse she records, on both her and Heneage's parts, jealousy, distrust, and resentment; tense dialogues between an often tired and drunken husband coming home to a bored and irritated wife of whose only employment--poetry--he did not approve. A few of these early lyrics are among the most frequently reprinted and anthologized of her poems, but again their content is parly obscured since most of these reprints have been of Myra Reynolds's texts and wherever she could, she took hers from the 1713 Miscellany; failing that, she went to the Folger or Eastwell book which often the second version of the first fair copy entered into the Finch-Hatton or Godmersham-Wye book. Now the 1713 Miscellany mostly omits altogether, and the Folger/Eastwell book lacks or changes numbers of the original headings. We also lose the crossed-out original names which in the Finch-Hatton or Godmersham-Wye volume; these sometimes reveal the personal basis of the song as well as various earlier suggestive pseudonyms; sometimes the protagonist of the poem is simply "Ann."

To take three examples at random: The poem which in Reynolds appears simply as "THE BARGAIN. A Song in dialogue between Bacchus and Cupid" (Reynolds, Poems 37) is in the Finch-Hatton/Godmersham-Wye book headed ""The Bargain. a Song between Bachus & Cupid, made at my request by Areta;" Ardelia is written over Areta but the Areta is still clear; also the lady's name in the poem does not appear to be Areta but a name beginning with "Am" (MS F-H 283, 89-90). The second, the already-quoted dialogue between Dorothy Ogle as Teresa and Ann as Areta-Aredelia, has some headings in which Ann's pseudonym is neither Ardelia or Areta but a third "A" name, one which also begins "Am" (MS F-H 283, 23). The third, "The Losse," shows "Ardelia" squeezed over a brief monosyllable which begins with A; that is, simply "Ann" (MS F-H 283, 7).

Most of these lyrics are clearly spoken by either a man or a woman; but one which could be either is among Ann's more courageous poems, and was in 1691 her first published poem [n2]. Here she speaks for both men and women of the vulnerability of someone dependent upon someone else. From the Finch-Hatton book, "A Song:"

Tis strange, this heart within my breast
Reason opposing, and her pow'rs,
Cannot one gentle moment rest,
Unlesse it knows, what's done in Yours.

In vain I ask it of your Eyes,
Which subt'ly, wou'd my fears controul,
For art has taught them, to disguise,
Which nature made, t'explain the Soul.

In vain, that sound your voice affoards,
Flatters sometimes, my easy mind,
But of too vast extent, are words,
In them, the jewel truth to find.

Then lett thy fond enquiry's cease,
And so my Soul, thy troubles end,
For sure that heart shall ne'r know peace,
That on another does depend.

(F-H 283, 87-8).

This song is also an analysis of one source of the pain anyone who loves knows. To love is to make someone else the repository of your ego; their opinion is you, and human beings, being what they are, normally anything but altruistic and frank, love becomes a deeply uneasy experience. Although there is nothing in the text to specify the speaker's sex, experience has taught me that readers of this poem invariably describe it as spoken by a woman [n3].

These early poems also repeatedly refer to drunkenness and love-making with the somewhat wry moral (as the porter in Macbeth said) that drink's a teasing equivocator who "provokes the desire, but ... takes away the performance." The final lines of the "The Bargain" between Cupid and "Bachus" tell us that Cupid agrees to be "content ... To mix my waters, with thy Wine," if "Bachus" agrees to allow "He that's in love [to] flye to thee/And he that's drunk, shall reel to me" (MS F-H 283, 90). Perhaps Heneage asked Ann to write it down because her somewhat caustic acceptance of his state amused him.

While it's true the younger Heneage left no records of his drinking habits, ten years later Heneage's great-niece's husband, who became Heneage's great friend, did, and Helen Sard Hughes tells us (of course, as tastefully as she can) that night after night the young Algernon Seymour's return to his Gentle Hertford stewed was typical for a young aristocratic attached to the court in London at the turn of the century (Hughes, Gentle Hertford 21-2). Ann's first original play insists on the frequent drunkenness of Capriccio, the captain, and the following marvelous soliloquy given to Capriccio emerges from Ann's own wry or disillusioned assessment of Heneage as her "honest man" all too rarely came home sober:

'Tis a rare world, a brave world,
A ranting, flanting, shining world;
Not a tavern in the town but's in a blaze,
Not a pretended sister, cosen, or other civil Relation,
That's not publickly own'd,
For an errant, tory, rory strumpet ...
I'll ee'n away, and be drunk with the best of 'em
And then, as an honest man shou'd
Go soberly home, and look to my charge,
A rare thing ...

(MS Folger [Act IV], 111-2)

The Gentle Hertford was, of course, all patience and self- sacrifice with her man; in another "Song," Ann shows us at least one of the whimsical captain's charges was not grateful: where "Bacchus Reigns" the man is unfeeling, and as a result his nymph feels useless, old, and resentful:

The Nymph in vain, bestows her Pains,
That seeks to thrive, where Bacchus Reigns,
In vain are charmes, or Smiles, or Frowns,
All Images, his Torrent drowns.
Flames to the head, he may impart,
But makes an Island of the heart.
So inaccessible, and Cold,
That to be his, is to be old

(MS F-H 283, 60),

In the Finch-Hatton or Godmersham-Wye book Ann's early lyrics appear as little dramatic narratives in columns of verse, and the little story most obsessively retold in them is of jealousy and one consequence, guarded games in which the lovers find themselves chained all the more strongly as they feel their pain all the stronger. One of the more powerful whose wrenching content Ann attempted to obscure by retitling it in the 1713 Miscellany in such a way as to emphasize the moral lesson rather than its original content, a Freudian story of enthrallment:

Vain love, why dos't thou boast of wings,
That cannot help thee to retire,
When Such quick flames, Suspition brings,
As does the heart, about thee fire.
Still Swift to come, but when to goe
Thou shoud'st be more alas! how Slow.
Lord of the World, must surely be
But thy bare title, at the most;
Since Jealousie, is Lord of thee,
And makes Such Havock, on thy coast,
As does thy pleasant Land deface,
Yet binds thee faster to the place

(MS F-H 286, 60)

The reader's pride and desire for something upbeat may make him or her prefer to the above "Love, art best of humane Joys" (MS F-H 283, 86-7), another popular anthology piece, first published in 1693 [n4], but the picture of love as a deserted rocky coast with jealousy its master tells the realer story of how, as she said in her censored piece, Heneage and Ann, pulled joy out of strife.

A final poem in this vein, another of the five anonymous poems by Ann printed in Gilden's 1701 volume entitled A New Miscellany of Original Poems on Several Occasions which has not yet been recognized as by her is the frankest of her dramatic narratives about her and Heneage's less than contented relationship in these early years [n5]. Here Ann is called Aminta, a name which in the Finch-Hatton papers is probably among those indecipherable ones beginning with "Am." Let us recall Ann's attempt to translate Tasso's play, Aminta in this period, the appearance of a pseudonym in the Finch-Hatton book which begins "Am" (MS F-H 283, 23), and when she was a Maid of Honor her identification with Amintor. Aminta or "She" is Ann; "He" is Heneage.

Technically it is as superb as her later pastoral dialogues and expresses the same craving for retreat and hatred of ambition; like all her love lyrics it focuses on the power of "eyes." The problem here is that although "he" says he despises the court, he keeps going there, and again she is too dependent upon him to endure his absence easily. It is entitled "A Dialogue:"

He. When my Aminta weeps 'tis sure
Some might cause affects her so
That Equal temper is secure
Against what common ills can do
Why does the Lovely Nymph complain,
Since both have One United heart;
She shou'd in Jusice tell her pain,
I'le Ease your Grief by bearing part

She. Forgive my weakeness if concern
Do's in my clouded face appear;
Too soon you may the cause discern,
For tender love is apt to fear.
When to the faithless court you go,
And Thousand dazling Beauties see.
Charm'd with the Artificial show
You'le soon forget your Vows and me.

He. Blest innocence my Souls delight,
For you unmov'd I'de Courts despise
Th'alluring prospect's not so bright,
Nor yeilds a lustre like your Eyes.
May the great Gods confirm my Vow,
And I their utmost Vengeance feel
When at another Shrine I bow,
Or with unhallowed Incence kneel.

She. Then from the hurry let's retire
And quit Ambition for the Grove,
Honour's at best a painted Fire,
There is no Sollid joy but Love.
Pan will approve of our retreat,
On the soft grass supinely laid
We'l pitty those that dare be great
And make a Palace of the Shade.

Chorus of both
Far from the Hurry wee'll retire &c

(1701 Gilden 332-4)

Ann's early lyrics record for us the inward or private story of her and Heneage's first years together in their flat, as we would say, at Westminster; for the story of Heneage's somewhat separated public live and Ann's public role (insofar as she played one), we have only the sparse documentary record. Heneage continued to play two roles: one at court, and the other in Kent.

Heneage was, on the one hand, a court-person for the first five years of his marriage to Ann. In 1687 he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel in the Coldstream Guards; Edward Chamberlayne lists an Heneage Finch as at this time among the members of the Civil Government of Her Majesties Court (Chamberlayne II, 211). And he was a prestigious decoration at court for both James and Mary, and when, eight days after he and Ann were married, James II and Mary d'Este were crowned, Mary d'Este specifically requested that Heneage and another man make two of the sixteen men who "dressed in scarlet breeches with crinsom satin waistcoat and velvet cap and shoes, carried the queen's canopy." She said this way she could be sure she'd know somebody in her train; the comment suggests she was comfortable around Heneage, perhaps had come to know him when he was wooing Ann (McGovern 30).

Also on April 3, 1685, a year after he married Ann, Heneage was named as a member of the House of Commons for the borough of Hythe, an ancient Cinque Port town in Kent, and served on seven committees (though of very minor importance). This appointment was not the result of his activity in Kent or Hythe politics; he was merely one of slew of men who held appointments at court whom James placed in the House. since the beginning of the seventeenth century in the five ancient Cinque Port, the vote had been seized by members of self-chosen monopolies, with writs sent out to the constituencies by the Lord Warden; it was an obvious move on James's part to take over the office of Lord Warden and choose slates made up of people whose votes could be "depended upon." Heneage kept this office for only one year; the narrowing and corruption of the franchise that was to reach its zenith, so to speak, in the mid-eighteenth century had reach Hythe: in 1688 its charter was surrendered; in 1689 by an Act of Parliament the Lord Warden lost even the right of nominating and sending members to Parliament (McGovern 30, 232n17; Porritt I, 45, 547).

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