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The Petition for an Absolute Retreat.

Inscribed to the Right Honble CATHARINE Countess of THANET, mention'd in the Poem under the Name of ARMINDA.
[ed.] Lady Catharine, countess of Thanet ("Arminda"), wife of Thomas Tufton, 6th earl of Thanet. (AH)

1 GIVE me O indulgent Fate!
2 Give me yet, before I Dye,
3 A sweet, but absolute Retreat,
4 'Mongst Paths so lost, and Trees so high,
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5 That the World may ne'er invade,
6 Through such Windings and such Shade,
7 My unshaken Liberty.
8 No Intruders thither come!
9 Who visit, but to be from home;
10 None who their vain Moments pass,
11 Only studious of their Glass,
12 News, that charm to listning Ears;
13 That false Alarm to Hopes and Fears;
14 That common Theme for every Fop,
15 From the Statesman to the Shop,
16 In those Coverts ne'er be spread,
17 Of who's Deceas'd, or who's to Wed,
18 Be no Tidings thither brought,
19 But Silent, as a Midnight Thought,
20 Where the World may ne'er invade,
21 Be those Windings, and that Shade:
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22 Courteous Fate! afford me there
23 A Table spread without my Care,
24 With what the neighb'ring Fields impart,
25 Whose Cleanliness be all it's Art,
26 When, of old, the Calf was drest,
27 (Tho' to make an Angel's Feast)
28 In the plain, unstudied Sauce
29 Nor Treufle, nor Morillia was;
30 Nor cou'd the mighty Patriarch's Board
31 One far-fetch'd Ortolane afford.
32 Courteous Fate, then give me there
33 Only plain, and wholesome Fare.
34 Fruits indeed (wou'd Heaven bestow)
35 All, that did in Eden grow,
36 All, but the Forbidden Tree,
37 Wou'd be coveted by me;
38 Grapes, with Juice so crouded up,
39 As breaking thro' the native Cup;
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40 Figs (yet growing) candy'd o'er,
41 By the Sun's attracting Pow'r;
42 Cherries, with the downy Peach,
43 All within my easie Reach;
44 Whilst creeping near the humble Ground,
45 Shou'd the Strawberry be found
46 Springing wheresoe'er I stray'd,
47 Thro' those Windings and that Shade.
48 For my Garments; let them be
49 What may with the Time agree;
50 Warm, when Phoebus does retire,
51 And is ill-supply'd by Fire:
52 But when he renews the Year,
53 And verdant all the Fields appear;
54 Beauty every thing resumes,
55 Birds have dropt their Winter-Plumes;
56 When the Lilly full display'd,
57 Stands in purer White array'd,
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58 Than that Vest, which heretofore
59 The Luxurious
* Josephus says, that every Monday Solomon went to the House of Lebanon in an open Chariot, cloath'd in a Robe most dazling White, which makes that Allusion not improper, and may give us Grounds to believe that the Lilly mention'd by our Saviour (compar'd to Solomon in his Glory) might really be the common white Lilly, altho' the Commentators seem in doubt what Flowers are truly meant by the Lillies, as thinking the plain Lilly not gay enough for the Comparison; whereas this Garment is noted by Josephus to be wonderfully Beautiful tho' only White; nor can any Flower, I believe, have a greater Lustre than the common White Lilly.
Monarch wore,
60 When from Salem's Gates he drove,
61 To the soft Retreat of Love,
62 Lebanon's all burnish'd House,
63 And the dear Egyptian Spouse.
64 Cloath me, Fate, tho' not so Gay;
65 Cloath me light, and fresh as May:
66 In the Fountains let me view
67 All my Habit cheap and new;
68 Such as, when sweet Zephyrs fly,
69 With their Motions may comply;
70 Gently waving, to express
71 Unaffected Carelesness:
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72 No Perfumes have there a Part,
73 Borrow'd from the Chymists Art;
74 But such as rise from flow'ry Beds,
75 Or the falling Jasmin Sheds!
76 'Twas the Odour of the Field,
77 Esau's rural Coat did yield,
78 That inspir'd his Father's Pray'r,
79 For Blessings of the Earth and Air:
80 Of Gums, or Pouders had it smelt;
81 The Supplanter, then unfelt,
82 Easily had been descry'd,
83 For One that did in Tents abide;
84 For some beauteous Handmaids Joy,
85 And his Mother's darling Boy.
86 Let me then no Fragrance wear,
87 But what the Winds from Gardens bear,
88 In such kind, surprizing Gales,
89 As gather'd from
These Circumstances are related by Plutarch in the Life of Sylla.
Fidentia's Vales,
90 All the Flowers that in them grew;
91 Which intermixing, as they flew,
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92 In wreathen Garlands dropt agen,
93 On Lucullus, and his Men;
94 Who, chear'd by the victorious Sight,
95 Trebl'd Numbers put to Flight.
96 Let me, when I must be fine,
97 In such natural Colours shine;
98 Wove, and painted by the Sun,
99 Whose resplendent Rays to shun,
100 When they do too fiercely beat,
101 Let me find some close Retreat,
102 Where they have no Passage made,
103 Thro' those Windings, and that Shade.
104 Give me there (since Heaven has shown
105 It was not Good to be alone)
106 A Partner suited to my Mind,
107 Solitary, pleas'd and kind;
108 Who, partially, may something see
109 Preferr'd to all the World in me;
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110 Slighting, by my humble Side,
111 Fame and Splendor, Wealth and Pride.
112 When but Two the Earth possest,
113 'Twas their happiest Days, and best;
114 They by Bus'ness, nor by Wars,
115 They by no Domestick Cares,
116 From each other e'er were drawn,
117 But in some Grove, or flow'ry Lawn,
118 Spent the swiftly flying Time,
119 Spent their own, and Nature's Prime,
120 In Love; that only Passion given
121 To perfect Man, whilst Friends with Heaven.
122 Rage, and Jealousie, and Hate,
123 Transports of his fallen State,
124 (When by Satan's Wiles betray'd)
125 Fly those Windings, and that Shade!
126 Thus from Crouds, and Noise remov'd,
127 Let each Moment be improv'd;
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128 Every Object still produce,
129 Thoughts of Pleasure, and of Use:
130 When some River slides away,
131 To encrease the boundless Sea;
132 Think we then, how Time do's haste,
133 To grow Eternity at last,
134 By the Willows, on the Banks,
135 Gather'd into social Ranks,
136 Playing with the gentle Winds,
137 Strait the Boughs, and smooth the Rinds,
138 Moist each Fibre, and each Top,
139 Wearing a luxurious Crop,
140 Let the time of Youth be shown,
141 The time alas! too soon outgrown;
142 Whilst a lonely stubborn Oak,
143 Which no Breezes can provoke,
144 No less Gusts persuade to move,
145 Than those, which in a Whirlwind drove,
146 Spoil'd the old Fraternal Feast,
147 And left alive but one poor Guest;
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148 Rivell'd the distorted Trunk,
149 Sapless Limbs all bent, and shrunk,
150 Sadly does the Time presage,
151 Of our too near approaching Age.
152 When a helpless Vine is found,
153 Unsupported on the Ground,
154 Careless all the Branches spread,
155 Subject to each haughty Tread,
156 Bearing neither Leaves, nor Fruit,
157 Living only in the Root;
158 Back reflecting let me say,
159 So the sad Ardelia lay;
160 Blasted by a Storm of Fate,
161 Felt, thro' all the British State;
162 Fall'n, neglected, lost, forgot,
163 Dark Oblivion all her Lot;
164 Faded till Arminda's Love,
165 (Guided by the Pow'rs above)
166 Warm'd anew her drooping Heart,
167 And Life diffus'd thro' every Part;
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168 Mixing Words, in wise Discourse,
169 Of such Weight and wond'rous Force,
170 As could all her Sorrows charm,
171 And transitory Ills disarm;
172 Chearing the delightful Day,
173 When dispos'd to be more Gay,
174 With Wit, from an unmeasured Store,
175 To Woman ne'er allow'd before.
176 What Nature, or refining Art,
177 All that Fortune cou'd impart,
178 Heaven did to Arminda send;
179 Then gave her for Ardelia's Friend:
180 To her Cares the Cordial drop,
181 Which else had overflow'd the Cup.
182 So, when once the Son of Jess,
183 Every Anguish did oppress,
184 Hunted by all kinds of Ills,
185 Like a Partridge on the Hills;
186 Trains were laid to catch his Life,
187 Baited with a Royal Wife,
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188 From his House, and Country torn,
189 Made a Heathen Prince's Scorn;
190 Fate, to answer all these Harms,
191 Threw a Friend into his Arms.
192 Friendship still has been design'd,
193 The Support of Human-kind;
194 The safe Delight, the useful Bliss,
195 The next World's Happiness, and this.
196 Give then, O indulgent Fate!
197 Give a Friend in that Retreat
198 (Tho' withdrawn from all the rest)
199 Still a Clue, to reach my Breast.
200 Let a Friend be still convey'd
201 Thro' those Windings, and that Shade!
202 Where, may I remain secure,
203 Waste, in humble Joys and pure,
204 A Life, that can no Envy yield;
205 Want of Affluence my Shield.
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206 Thus, had
* The Description of this Cave, is exactly taken from Plutarch in the Life of Crassus.
Crassus been content,
207 When from Marius Rage he went,
208 With the Seat that Fortune gave,
209 The commodious ample Cave,
210 Form'd, in a divided Rock,
211 By some mighty Earthquake's Shock,
212 Into Rooms of every Size,
213 Fair, as Art cou'd e'er devise,
214 Leaving, in the marble Roof,
215 ('Gainst all Storms and Tempests proof)
216 Only Passage for the Light,
217 To refresh the chearful Sight,
218 Whilst Three Sharers in his Fate,
219 On th' Escape with Joy dilate,
220 Beds of Moss their Bodies bore,
221 Canopy'd with Ivy o'er;
222 Rising Springs, that round them play'd,
223 O'er the native Pavement stray'd;
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224 When the Hour arriv'd to Dine,
225 Various Meats, and sprightly Wine,
226 On some neighb'ring Cliff they spy'd;
227 Every Day a-new supply'd
228 By a Friend's entrusted Care;
229 Had He still continu'd there,
230 Made that lonely wond'rous Cave
231 Both his Palace, and his Grave;
232 Peace and Rest he might have found,
233 (Peace and Rest are under Ground)
234 Nor have been in that Retreat,
235 Fam'd for a Proverbial Fate;
236 In pursuit of Wealth been caught,
237 And punish'd with a golden Draught.
238 Nor had
He, who Crowds cou'd blind,
239 Whisp'ring with a snowy Hind,
240 Made 'em think that from above,
241 (Like the great Impostor's Dove)
242 Tydings to his Ears she brought,
243 Rules by which he march'd and fought,
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244 After Spain he had o'er-run,
245 Cities sack'd, and Battles won,
246 Drove Rome's Consuls from the Field,
247 Made her darling Pompey yield,
248 At a fatal, treacherous Feast,
249 Felt a Dagger in his Breast;
250 Had he his once-pleasing Thought
251 Of Solitude to Practice brought;
252 Had no wild Ambition sway'd;
253 In those Islands had he stay'd,
254 Justly call'd the Seats of Rest,
255 Truly
The Canary Islands, call'd by the Ancients the Fortunate Islands, and taken by some of the Poets for Elysium.
Fortunate, and Blest,
256 By the ancient Poets giv'n
257 As their best discover'd Heav'n.
258 Let me then, indulgent Fate!
259 Let me still, in my Retreat,
260 From all roving Thoughts be freed,
261 Or Aims, that may Contention breed;
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262 Nor be my Endeavours led
263 By Goods, that perish with the Dead!
264 Fitly might the Life of Man
265 Be indeed esteem'd a Span,
266 If the present Moment were
267 Of Delight his only Share;
268 If no other Joys he knew
269 Than what round about him grew:
270 But as those, who Stars wou'd trace
271 From a subterranean Place,
272 Through some Engine lift their Eyes
273 To the outward, glorious Skies;
274 So th' immortal Spirit may,
275 When descended to our Clay,
276 From a rightly govern'd Frame
277 View the Height, from whence she came;
278 To her Paradise be caught,
279 And Things unutterable taught.
280 Give me then, in that Retreat,
281 Give me, O indulgent Fate!
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282 For all Pleasures left behind,
283 Contemplations of the Mind.
284 Let the Fair, the Gay, the Vain
285 Courtship and Applause obtain;
286 Let th' Ambitious rule the Earth;
287 Let the giddy Fool have Mirth;
288 Give the Epicure his Dish,
289 Ev'ry one their sev'ral Wish;
290 Whilst my Transports I employ
291 On that more extensive Joy,
292 When all Heaven shall be survey'd
293 From those Windings and that Shade.


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Title (in Source Edition): The Petition for an Absolute Retreat. Inscribed to the Right Honble CATHARINE Countess of THANET, mention'd in the Poem under the Name of ARMINDA.
Themes: politics; ambition

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Source edition

Miscellany poems, on several occasions: Written by the Right Honble Anne, Countess of Winchilsea. London: printed for J. B. and sold by Benj. Tooke, William Taylor, and James Round, 1713, pp. 33-49. [8],390p. ; 8⁰. (ESTC T94539; Foxon pp. 274-5; OTA K076314.000)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the ECCO-TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 3.0.

Other works by Anne Finch (née Kingsmill), countess of Winchilsea