As Merc'ry travell'd thro' a Wood,
(Whose Errands are more Fleet than Good)
An 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,

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?
Quoth Mercury–Then have you Fought!

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

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 Read;
Whilst that proceeding to requite,
We own (who in the Muse delight)
'Tis for our Selves, not them, we Write.
Betray'd by Solitude to try
Amusements, which the Prosp'rous fly;

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.

More verses by Anne Kingsmill Finch