The Gun-Carryin' Librarian

The Nun – From Rabelais!

Here is the next installment of poetry generally attributed to Thomas, the sixth Earl of Harrington (circa 1730).  This particular poem will be continued with the second and final part tomorrow.  Enjoy!

The Nun – from Rabelais

Few arguments it will require
To prove, that when a nun and friar
Are left together in a cell,
They oft do something else than tell
Their rosary; a man’s a man,
And ’tis not silly vows that can
Subdue the heat of wild desire.
Nor cool nor quench their lustful fire.

Of flesh and blood the nuns are formed;
And their soft hearts are quickly stormed,
Although ten thousand oaths they swear,
They can’t the least confinement bear:
And, though in cursed cloister pent,
That may their wished escape prevent,
Yet Nature still will find a vent;
And I am told some women can
Do very near as much as man;
And others have found out a sport,
To please them, of another sort.

But these are secrets past my skill,
You let them practice what they will;
They of these baubles quickly tire,
If they can get a priest of friar.

But what I say will pass for nought,
Unless examples can be brought
To vouch the truth that I advance.
Long, long ago, there was in France,
A charming nun, who was beguiled,
Or, in plain English, was with child,
The lady abbess, in despair,
Her garments rent, and tore her hair;
And, overpowered with rage, did call
The nuns together in the hall;
The guilty nun came with the rest,
And not the least concern expressed.

To her the angry abbess spoke,
“You strumpet, who our laws have broke,
“Tell me, as you would shun damnation,
“Who got that child?” She gravely said,
“For aught I know I am a maid;
“For, Madam,” and at that she smiled,
“I’m sure I never bore a child.”
That’s not enough,” the abbes cried,
“Your guilt, you slut, can’t be denied;
“Your belly’s like to burst its skin;
“Come tell me, whore, who thrust it in?”

The pregnant nun began to laugh,
To see the abbess in the chaff;
Then said, “since you desire to know,
“To whom I this great belly owe,
“I’ll honestly the truth declare,
“And all the steps of this affair;
“:On Whitsun’s eve, seven months ago,
“The time I most exactly know,m
“As on my bed I sleepless lay,
“Young father Stiffrump came that way,
“My door he opened, ventured in;
“I just had stripped me to the skin;
“My nakedness I could not hide:
“The friar laid his frock aside;
“Faith, Madam, had you seen that sight,
“It would have brought your heart delight,
“At least, I’m sure it gave to mine;
“You know his face and shapes are fine;
“I’ve never seen a naked man,
“And to admire him straight began;
“I gazed upon his lovely shape,
“Nor did I  let one charm escape;
“But, O! What raptures seized my heart
“When I beheld a certain part!
“A sight I’d never seen before;
“With joy I viewed it over and over;
“So long, so large, and so erect,
“That in my soul it raised respect;
“I guessed its use, and wished that he
“Would make the experiment on me;
“And as I wished the friar did
“:And the dear object wholly hid,
“Where you may guess; my heart doth melt
“To think upon the joy I felt.”

The abbess said, “You wicked jade,
“Why did you not cry out for aid?”
“Ah Madam, Madam,” said the nun,
“The deed was in the dorter done;
“And sure you know, as well as i,
“We dare not in the dorter cry.”

” ‘Tis true,” the fretting abbess said,
“But, when you found yourself betrayed,
:Why did you not, by making signs,
“Discover all his lewd designs?”

At this the merry nun laughed loud,
And said, “I did all that I could;
“I heaved my buttocks to and fro,
“And that way did my danger show,
“But ’twas in vain; no friendly nun
“To help a ruined sister run.”

“Yet,” said the abbess, “you’re to blame;
“Why did you not declare your shame,
“Soon as the wicked deed was done?”
“Alas!” replied the wanton nun,
“I was a young and silly maid,
“And so of consequence afraid
“The deed would send me down to hell;
“So, ere the friar left the cell,
“I all my sins to him confessed,
“Who kindly set my soul at rest;
“And, for a penance, did impose
“I never should the thing disclose.”

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 Mia 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.).