Self-Denied, 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 third parts over the next couple of days.  Enjoy!

The Self-Denied (Part 1)

The other day I heard a tale
From Glasgow, famed for rum and zeal,
For sighing husbands, praying wives,
For looks precise, but cheating lives,
Of a young woman full of grace,
The most admired of all the place;
Who twenty sermons could tell over,
Though preached above six months before;
On week-day sermons took delight,
And evening lectures every night.
she always spoke in Scripture phrase,
And trod in sanctified ways,
Till, tempted by her holy life,
A merchant asked her for his wife.

“Good friend,” said she, “I’m not to learn,
“That, in a thing of such concern,
“A woman cannot be too nice,
“But of the Lord should ask advice;
“And if he leaves me in the dark,
“I’ll ask his servant, Mr. Clark.”

This answer filled the man with hope,
Who went contented to his shop;
While Godly Mary went to prayer,
And counsel asked in her affair.
The to her pious pastor walked,
And of the merchant’s offer spoke;
Where, after many to’s and fro’s,
Hew answered sagely, through the nose;
“Beloved Mary, babe of grace,
“I have considered on your case;
“The merchant leads a pious life.
“And well deserves a godly wife;
“And I believe, upon the matter,
“That neither of you can do better;
“Heaven bless you both, and may he be,
“A comforter and help to thee.”

She went away in great content,
And for the loving merchant sent,
Told him that Mr. Clark approved.
And all her scruples were removed.
The marriage day was fixed on this,
But Mary still denied the kiss.

Three Sundays passed in proclamation,
For all was managed with discretion;
They married were, and to their feasts,
The clergy were the only guests;
In place of mirth and merry airs,
Were exhortations, psalms and prayers.
The bride at last away was led,
The merchant followed her to bed.
Clark made a long and pithy prayer,
Held out his hands and blessed the pair.
Amen, cried out the wry-mouthed crew,
And, sighing, from the room withdrew.

The merchant, who was called John,
With his dear Mary left alone,
Her mouth and lovely bosom kissed,
Nor did the bride at all resist:
But when his hand he lower thrust,
“Pray John,” said she, “beware of lust,
“And take your busy hand away,
“Then listen, John, to what I say: —
“The scripture says, and it says true,
“We should all filthy thoughts subdue;
“But what you drive at is no less
“Than chambering and wantonness.
“King Solomon, the wise, the good,
“Though many things he understood,
“Has, in his book of Proverbs, said,
“The way of a man with a maid,
“To him was a deep mystery;
“Would you be wiser, John than he?
“Let us live pure nad undefiled,
“Not by the world and flesh beguiled,
“Resisting lust and each temptation,
“And thus work out our own salvation:
“Dear John, if you’ll be ruled in this,
“I’ll greet you with a holy kiss.

. . .  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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