A Celebration of Women Writers

"Mercury and the Elephant" by Anne Kingsmill Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1661 - 1720)
From Winchilsea, Anne (Kingsmill) Finch, Countess of. Miscellany Poems, on Several Occasions, London: printed for J[ohn] B[arber] and sold by Benj. Tooke at the Middle-Temple-Gate, William Taylor in Pater-Noster-Row, and James Round, in Exchange-Alley, Cornhil, 1713. pp. 1-4.

Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom

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A Prefatory FABLE

As Merc'ry travell'd thro' a Wood,
(Whose Errands are more Fleet than Good)
Elephant before him lay,
That much encumber'd had the Way:
The Messenger, who's still in haste,
Wou'd fain have bow'd, and so have past;
When up arose th' unweildy Brute,
And wou'd repeat a late Dispute,

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In which (he said) he'd gain'd the Prize
From a wild Boar of monstrous Size:
But Fame (quoth he) with all her Tongues,
Who Lawyers, Ladies, Soldiers wrongs,
Has, to my Disadvantage, told
An Action throughly Bright and Bold;
Has said, that I foul Play had us'd,
And with my Weight th' Opposer bruis'd;
Had laid my Trunk about his Brawn,
Before his Tushes cou'd be drawn;
Had stunn'd him with a hideous Roar,
And twenty-thousand Scandals more:
But I defy the Talk of Men,
Or Voice of Brutes in ev'ry Den;
Th' impartial Skies are all my Care,
And how it stands Recorded there.
Amongst you Gods, pray, What is thought?
MercuryThen have you Fought!

  Solicitous thus shou'd I be
For what's said of my Verse and Me;

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Or shou'd my Friends Excuses frame,
And beg the Criticks not to blame
(Since from a Female Hand it came)
Defects in Judgment, or in Wit;
They'd but reply - Then has she Writ!

  Our Vanity we more betray,
In asking what the World will say,
Than if, in trivial Things like these,
We wait on the Event with ease;
Nor make long
Prefaces, to show
What Men are not concern'd to know:
For still untouch'd how we succeed,
'Tis for themselves, not us, they
Whilst that proceeding to requite,
We own (who in the Muse delight)
'Tis for our Selves, not them, we
Betray'd by Solitude to try
Amusements, which the Prosp'rous fly;

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And only to the Press repair,
To fix our scatter'd Papers there;
Tho' whilst our Labours are preserv'd,
The Printers may, indeed, be starv'd.


Editor: Mary Mark Ockerbloom