The Tooth-Drawer, Part One!

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 Tooth-Drawer (Part 1)

 

A parson’s wife, young, fair, and gay,
Soon wearied of her husband’s way;
For all night by her side he snored,
And all day on his volumes pored;
He did not relish wedlock joys,
He had already girls and boys,
That his first wife, good woman, bore,
And thrifty man, he wished no more;
His present wife some money brought,
And that was all the parson sought.

The doctor was a saving man,
And, ere he married last, began
To think he little had to spare,
And children would increase his care
And his expenses; but he thought,
If that a fair one could be brought
To live in quiet, day and night,
And never ask conjugal delight,
Her portion would his wealth increase,
And he might all night sleep in peace.
Full well he knew that he was old,
Yet he had heard some maids were cold,
Who passed their days with great discretion,
Nor cared for love nor copulation.
If so, he’d be in happy case,
Thus, full of faith, heaven-pleasing grace,
He ventured on the charming maid,
And was not of her youth afraid;
While she, reluctant to his suit,
With horror viewed the feeble brute;
She loathed his age, abhorred his figure,
And in his looks read want of vigor,
Her beauty now was in its bud,
And she foresaw her youthful blood
An abler doctor would require,
To cool its heat and quench its fire;
Add to all this that long ere now,
She in her heart had made a vow,
To wed a surgeon, who in truth,
Was handsome, and a clever youth.
But parents, upon lucre bent,
Do seldom mind their child’s content;
And, careless of their future ease,
Even make them wed whom ever they please.

The truth of this fair Kitty tried,
She sighed, she kneeled, she prayed, she cried;
And begged they would their Kitty save
From age, diseases, and the grave;
For surely they would be her fate,
If married to that horrid mate,
Who was made up of ails and years;
Then backed her speech with floods of tears.
But all was vain that Kitty said,
Her parents’ needs would be obeyed;
They knew full well the priest was rich,
And wealth their senses did bewitch.
Thus to their cursed avarice,
Poor Kitty fell a sacrifice.

The wedding-night arrived at last,
The red-faced curate made them fast;
To bed the mourning fair one went,
Overwhelmed with grief and discontent:
The doctor laid him by her side,
(Unequal match for such a bride),
The wedded pair were left alone,
While Kitty did her fate bemoan.
Crossed in her love, and, what was worse,
Condemned for life to be a nurse
To one she hated.  Wretched maid!
But, most of all, she was afraid
Lest he should take her in his arms,
And try to rifle all her charms:
This dreadful thought she could not bear,
But  vain in this was Kitty’s fear;
The bridegroom was not so disposed,
He kissed the bride, and then composed
His aged limbs to wished-for rest,
And for no other favor pressed . . .

. . .  to be continued tomorrow.

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.).

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