Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea

Spider from a Medieval Manuscript
A Spider. Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB, KA 16, Folio 130r


A Fable

Imitated from Monsr. de la Fontaine And Inscribed to Mr. Finch
After his first Fitt of that Distemper

When from th' Infernal pitt two Furies rose
One foe to Flies and one to Mans repose
Seeking aboue to find a place secure
Since Hell the Goute nor Spider cou'd indure
On a rich Pallace at the first they light
Where pleas'd Arachne dazzl'd with the sight
In a conspiccuous corner of a Room
The hanging Frett work makes her active Loom.
From leaf to leaf with every line does trace,
Admires the strange convenience of the place
Nor can belieue those Cealings e'er were made
To other end than to promote her Trade
Where prou'd and prosper'd in her finish'd work
The hungry Fiend does in close Ambush lurk
Untill some silly Insect shall repay
What from her Bowells she has spun that day.
The wiser Gout (for that's a thinking ill)
Observing how the splended chambers fill
With visitors such as abound below
Who from Hypocrates and Gallen grow
To some unwealthy shed resolues to fly
And there obscure and unmolested lye
But see how eithers project quickly fails
The Clown his new tormentor with him trayles
Through miry ways rough Woods and furrow'd Lands
Ne're cutts the Shooe nor propp'd on Crutches stands
With Phoebus rising stays with Cynthia out
Allows no respitt to the harrass'd Gout.
     Whilst with extended Broom th'unpittying Maid
Does the transparent Laberynth invade
Back stroke and fore the battering Engin went
Broke euery Cord and quite unhing'd the Tent
No truce the tall Virago e're admitts
Contracted and abash'd Arachne' sitts
Then in conuenient Time the Work renews
The battering Ram again the work persues.
What's to be done?  The Gout and Spider meet,
Exchange, the Cottage this; That takes the feet
Of the rich Abbott who that Pallace kept
And 'till that time in Velvet Curtains slept
Now Colwort leaues and Cataplasms (thô vain)
Are hourly order'd by that griping traine.
Who blush not to Prescribe t'exhaust our Gold
For aches which incurable they hold
Whil'st stroak'd and fixt the pamper'd Gout remains
And in an easy Chair euer the Preist detains.
     In a thatched Roof secure the Spider thrives,
Both mending by due place their hated liues.
From whose succeeding may this moral grow
That each his propper Station learn to know.

     For You my Dear whom late that pain did seize,
Not rich enough to sooth the bad disease
By large expences to engage his stay
Nor yett so poor to fright the Gout away
May you but some unfrequent Visits find
To prove you patient, your Ardelia kind
Who by a tender and officious care
Will ease that Grief or her proportion bear
Since Heaven does in the Nuptial state admitt
Such cares but new endearments to begett
And to allay the hard fatigues of life
Gaue the first Maid a Husband, Him a Wife.







The Poems of Anne, Countess of Winchilsea.
Myra Reynolds, ed.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1903. 30-2.

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