1758 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Anne Finch

Horace Walpole and Thomas Park, in Catalogue of Royal and Noble Authors (1758; 1806) 4:95-98.



Anne, Countess of Winchelsea, an esteemed poetess, is recorded, with some of her poems, in the General Dictionary. Her Poem on the Spleen was printed in Gildon's Miscellany, 1701, 8vo. Rowe addressed one to her on the sight of it.

Her Poems were printed at London, 1713, 8vo.; with a tragedy never acted, called Aristomenes; or, The Royal Shepherd. A copy of her verses to Mr. Pope is printed before the old edition of his works; and two others of his and hers are in the General Dictionary. — Another little poem in Prior's Posthumous works. She wrote too, An Epilogue to Jane Shore; To the Countess of Hertford, with her Poems; The Prodigy, a Poem, written at Tunbridge, 1706. A great number of her poems are said to be extant in manuscript.

[Lady Winchelsea was the daughter of sir William Kingsmill, of Sidmonton, in the county of Southampton. She was maid of honour to the duchess of York, and married the hon. Heneage Finch, second son of Heneage, earl of Winchelsea; to which title he succeeded, upon the death of his nephew Charles. She died without issue, Aug. 5. 1720.

Her ladyship's effusions, consisting chiefly of fables and occasional verses, were published under the title of Miscellany Poems on several Occasions, written by a Lady, Lond. 1713, 8vo.

The following is as pleasing a specimen as the volume produced:

LIFE'S PROGRESS.
How gayly is at first begun
Our life's uncertain race!
Whilst yet that sprightly morning-sun,
With which we just set out to run,
Enlightens all the place.

How smiling the world's prospect lies,
How tempting to go through!
Not Canaan, to the prophet's eyes,
From Pisgah, with a sweet surprise,
Did more inviting shew.

How soft the first ideas prove
Which wander through our minds!
How full the joys, how free the love
Which does that early season move,
As flow'rs the western winds!

Our sighs are then but vernal air,
But April-drops our tears,
Which swiftly passing, all grows fair,
Whilst beauty compensates our care,
And youth each vapour clears.

But, oh! too soon, alas! we climb,
Scarce feeling we ascend,
The gently-rising hill of Time,
From whence with grief we see that prime,
And all its sweetness end.

The die now cast, our station known,
Fond expectation past;
The thorns which former days had sown,
To crops of late repentance grown,
Through which we toil at last.

Whilst ev'ry care's a driving harm,
That helps to bear us down;
Which faded smiles no more can charm,
But ev'ry tear's a winter storm,
And ev'ry look's a frown!

Lady Winchelsea is principally known as a poetess from her moral apologue of The Atheist and Acorn, which, with a Nocturnal Reverie, was printed in Ritson's English Anthology, vol. ii.

Her ladyship obtained the good will of Pope, who addressed a copy of verses to her, which drew forth an elegant replication, printed in Cibber's Lives of the poets, vol. iii. See also Duncombe's Feminead, in Bell's Fugitive Poetry, vol. iv. p. 6.]