Anne Finch, “Man’s Injustice towards Providence”


“Man’s Injustice towards Providence”

A Thriving Merchant, who no Loss sustain’d,
In little time a mighty Fortune gain’d.
No Pyrate seiz’d his still returning Freight;
Nor foundring Vessel sunk with its own Weight:
No Ruin enter’d through dissever’d Planks;                                                                         5
No Wreck at Sea, nor in the Publick Banks.
Aloft he sails, above the Reach of Chance,
And do’s in Pride, as fast as Wealth, advance.
His Wife too, had her Town and Country-Seat,
And rich in Purse, concludes her Person Great.                                                               10
A Duchess wears not so much Gold and Lace;
Then ’tis with Her an undisputed Case,
The finest Petticoat must take the Place.
Her Rooms, anew at ev’ry Christ’ning drest,
Put down the Court, and vex the City-Guest.                                                                    15
Grinning Malottos in true Ermin stare;
The best Japan, and clearest China Ware
Are but as common Delft and English Laquar there.
No Luxury’s by either unenjoy’d,
Or cost withheld, tho’ awkwardly employ’d.                                                                      20
How comes this Wealth? a Country Friend demands,
Who scarce cou’d live on Product of his Lands.
How is it that, when Trading is so bad
That some are Broke, and some with Fears run Mad,
You can in better State yourself maintain,                                                                         25
And your Effects still unimpair’d remain!
My Industry, he cries, is all the Cause;
Sometimes I interlope, and slight the Laws:
I wiser Measures, than my Neighbours, take,
And better speed, who better Bargains make.                                                                 30
I knew, the Smyrna-Fleet wou’d fall a Prey,
And therefore sent no Vessel out that way:
My busy Factors prudently I chuse,
And in streight Bonds their Friends and Kindred noose:
At Home, I to the Publick Sums advance,                                                                          35
Whilst, under-hand in Fee with hostile France,
I care not for your Tourvills, or Du-Barts,
No more than for the Rocks, and Shelves in Charts:
My own sufficiency creates my Gain,
Rais’d, and secur’d by this unfailing Brain.                                                                         40
This idle Vaunt had scarcely past his Lips,
When Tydings came, his ill-provided Ships
Some thro’ the want of Skill, and some of Care,
Were lost, or back return’d without their Fare.
From bad to worse, each Day his State declin’d,                                                               45
’Till leaving Town, and Wife, and Debts behind,
To his Acquaintance at the Rural Seat
He Sculks, and humbly sues for a Retreat.
Whence comes this Change, has Wisdom left that Head,
(His Friend demands) where such right Schemes were bred?                                          50
What Phrenzy, what Delirium mars the Scull,
Which fill’d the Chests, and was it self so full?
Here interrupting, sadly he Reply’d,
In Me’s no Change, but Fate must all Things guide;
To Providence I attribute my Loss.                                                                                           55

Vain-glorious Man do’s thus the Praise engross,
When Prosp’rous Days around him spread their Beams:
But, if revolv’d to opposite Extreams,
Still his own Sence he fondly will prefer,
And Providence, not He, in his Affairs must Err!                                                                         60


6 Publick Banks The Bank of England was founded in 1694 primarily to fund England’s war with France.  “The original Royal Charter of 1694, granted by King William and Queen Mary, explained that the Bank was founded to ‘promote the public Good and Benefit of our People’” (

16 Malottos Variation of “mulattoes;” persons “of mixed black and white ancestry” (OED); Ermin Garment or accessory made from the fur of a stoat (OED).

17 Japan “A varnish of exceptional hardness, which originally came from Japan” (OED); China Ware Dishes, tableware, or other goods of Chinese origin (OED).

18 Delft Pottery glazed with tin, “decorated with blue designs on a white background…primarily produced in Delft, Holland” (OED).

31 Smyrna-Fleet Refers to France’s ambush of the Smyrna convoy in 1693 during War of the Grand Alliance, or Nine Years’ War, resulting in the loss of many merchant ships; or possibly to the English attack in 1672 on a Dutch fleet in the same region, instigating the third Anglo-Dutch war (Britannica; Maritime Stepping Stones).

33 Factors “An agent who buys and sells, or transacts other business, on behalf of another person or company” (OED).

34 noose Here a verb, “to bind or constrain” (OED).

37 Tourvills Anne-Hilarion de Contentin, Comte de Tourville (1642-1701), a French admiral under King Louis XIV. He commanded many battles in France’s wars against the Dutch, English, and other allied nations, including the attack on the Smyrna convoy (Britannica); Du-Barts Jean Bart (1650-1702), a French privateer and naval officer under Louis XIV. He served as a lieutenant in the War of the Grand Alliance and was made a member of the nobility in 1696 (Britannica).

38 charts A shortening of “sea-chart,” a map used by ship navigators (OED).

41 Vaunt “A boasting statement or brag” (OED).

SOURCE: Poems on Several Occasions (London, 1714), pp. 208-211. [HathiTrust]

Edited by Sabrina George