The Adventure, Part Two!

And now, the conclusion to the poem generally attributed to Thomas, the sixth Earl of Harrington (circa 1730).   Enjoy!

The Adventure

Thrice happy pair, who could employ
Their hours in such transporting joy!
But when the sun with glowing heat,
Did on their wanton bosoms beat,
To shun the scorching of his beams,
They went to bathe in crystal streams.

Scarce had they to the river got,
Ere Mrs. Jane beheld a boat,
By osiers to the margin tied;
“Abroad, my dear, abroad,” she cried,
“Let’s row the galley for a while.”
The fair obeyed her with a smile;
Each took an oar, they shove from land,
But neither could an oar command;
The boat went down the rapid tiede,
In vain they tried to reach the side:
Their rashness they repent in vain,
And, trembling, hurry to the main.
Miss Jane cried out with all her might,
Till two young farmers came in sight,
Who, seeing them in such distress,
Soon laid aside their useless dress;
And hastened by the ladies’ screams,
With brawny arms divide the streams;
They reached the boat, each took an oar,
And brought her quickly to the shore.

But yet the landing place was steep,
The bank was high, the water deep:
The fair one plunged into the flood,
And to the ankles stood in mud:
The youngest farmer jumped to land,
And to her gave his helping hand:
He pulled her safe upon the green,
Then ran to succour Mrs. Jane;
Who trembling stood half-dead with fear,
Nor for herself, but for her dear:
But seeing she had got to land,
In haste let go the farmer’s hand,
And falling headlong in the stream,
The charmer gave a dreadful scream:
The fellow gave her timely aid,
And from the water dragged the maid.

A drowning wretch, as people say,
Will grasp at whatever’s in his way;
And Mrs. Jane, as I am told,
Upon a certain place laid hold,
That she had thought the greatest crime,
To look on at another time;
But danger made her lay aside
Her silly prudery, and her pride,
And keep the member in her hand:
Until she safe arrived at land;
Then to the fair one ran in haste,
And pressed her closely to her breast,
Who, smiling, whispered in her ear,
“I did not think that you, my dear,
“Your spotless fingers would defile,
“By touching any thing so vile.”
To this the man-like maid replied,
“What I have done can’t be denied:”
Then with her hand her blushes hid:
“I reason had for what I did;
“My feet stuck fast within the mud,
“I feared to perish in the flood.
“I hate mankind with all my heart,
“Yet I did choose to grasp that part;
“Because, I’ve heard my mother teach,
“It never can the bottom reach.”

 

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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