The Crab, Part 2!

Here is Part 2 of the next poem The Crab generally attributed to Thomas, the sixth Earl of Harrington (circa 1730).    Enjoy!

The Crab

‘Twas winter time, the days were short,
And Thomas in his chair did snort,
As was his custom, while his spouse
Went like a bee about the house;
For she, of housewives far the best,
From morn to night would never rest.
But turned her hand to every thing,
That could a penny save or bring.
Two maids she had, the one was spinning,
The other one was dressing linen;
So seeing nothing was amiss,
She to the jurden went to piss.

The crab, who thought on no such matter,
Astonished with the scalding water,
Thrust out her claw, I do not joke ye,
And took fast hold of her tu quoque.

In dreadful pain and great surprise,
Poor Madam fill the house with cries,
Her husband waked, and to her came,
And kindly asked what ailed the dame.
“Alas!” she cried, “My dear, I’ll tell ye,
“The devil has got me by the belly:
“O help me, husband! help! she cried.
Mean time she all her clothes untied;
For haste her milk-white smock she tore,
And threw off every rag she wore.
The Thomas, when he saw her grief,
Assuring her of quick relief,
Kneeled down, in hopes to ease the fair,
But crab, who had a claws a pair,
his pious purpose did oppose,
And snapped the parson by the nose.

The Thomas’ anguish now began,
She called her maids, he called his man,
Who running to them with a light,
Were quite confounded with the sight;
The parson’s wife without her clothes,
And at her ——– her husband’s nose.
Where long enough it might have stayed.
But Nan, a clever handy maid,
Deprived the wicked crab of life,
And so relieved both man and wife;
Who, much offended with the pain,
Swore not to taste shell fish again.

Note: printed on the page following the title page was the following: “from a collection of poems that have been generally ascribed to Thomas, sixth Earl of Harrington. He was the son of Charles, the fifth Earl, and Margaret Lesslie, Countess of Rothes; and fought on the Royal side at the battle of Shirreffmuir, along with his brother John Lesslie, Earl of Rothes, and his own son, Lord Binning. These poems, according to Pinkerton, were printed about 1730, and have been reprinted in 1753, 1765, 1767, and 1777. He was also the author of a treatise on forest trees, which has gone through several editions. He died in 1735.” However, if these dates are correct (and I am by no means an expert historian in such matters), these poems could only have been written by either the first or second Earl of Harrington (William Stanhope and W.S. Jr.).


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