The Excuse!

Here is the next installment of poetry generally attributed to Thomas, the sixth Earl of Harrington (circa 1730).  Enjoy!

The Excuse

An honest man, in wane of life,
Had got a young and wanton wife,
Who, though she never gave offence,
Was given to benevolence.
Her husband played a husband’s part,
And loved his wife with all his heart:
But yet she made demands that he
Had little power to gratify.

One night, as in their bed they lay,
The wife became exceeding gay,
She kissed, she tickled, and she toyed,
And wantonly her hands employed;
Betwixt his lips her tongue she thrust,
And showed a deal of lawful lust;
But spouse was unprepared quite,
And sleep preferred to soft delight.
But, by his wife’s endearments, guessed
It was in vain to hope for rest:
He found himself for love unfit.
Yest saved his credit by his wit;
For, giving her a close embrace,
He with his finger touched the place,
And smelling at it, sighing, said,
“You are not well, I am afraid:”
Then whispered softly in her ear,
“Your marigold doth stink, my dear.”

“Lord help your head,” replied the wife,
“I was never better in my life!

” ‘Tis fresh and sweet indeed it is;”
Then gave her spouse a glowing kiss;
Who answered, to the fair one’s sorrow,
“If sweet, let’s keep it till to-morrow.”

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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