The Gray Mare the Better Horse!

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

The Gray Mare the Better Horse


Some men I’ve known by indiscretion
Of parents in their education,
Who feared their sons would never do good
If anything they understood,
And kept them back, with mighty care<
From conversation with the fair;
Lest they should taste the joys of life,
Ere tied for ever to a wife.
I’ve known such men as these, I say,
Transported on their wedding day,
In hopes to taste the longed-for bliss,
And freely toy, and freely kiss;
But, knowing  nothing of the joy,
Fondly believed they would destroy
The tender females; well they knew
That they their rapture could renew
whene’er they pleased! ’twas thus they thought
But soon their schemes fell all to nought:
For when they joined in amorous fight,
In spite of all their boasted might,
The women always won the day,
And wearied them with wanton play:
They in the pastime took delightm,
Whether at morning, noon, or night;
Whene’er the men that way were bent,
They ever found their wives content.

Not long ago, a friend of mine,
An able, clever, young divine.
Told me, upon his wedding day,
He feared he night his Nanny slay,
She seemed so young, and looked so slender,
That sure his something would offend her;
For I might see it by his figure,
He had too much of love and vigor.

I, smiling, told him that his wife
Was in no danger of her life,
For I have often heard it saidm,
‘Twas folly to believe a maid
Would suffer in an amorous quarrel,
If she was once as high’s a barrel;
For, let her be however young
Something will be as wide as the bung.

The doctor at my fancy smiled,
Yet was in terror for the child.
Next day I to his levee came,
And gravely asked him if his dame
Was still alive? He, sighing, said,
“There is no killing of a maid;
“I thought she would have cried or child,
“But Nancy smiled at all I did,
“She hugged me closely to her breast,
“And no uneasiness expressed;
“My utmost vigor I employed,
“In hopes the fair one would be cloyed;”
“But she, transported with delight,
“Till I (my friend) was soundly tired;
“And getting up, the bride did say,
” ‘You rise, my dear, before ’tis day;’ ”
Then added, with a leering smile,
” ‘Lie down my dear and rest a while.’ ”
“Lie down!” said I, “nay, now you jest me;
“No, no, my dear, I’ll rise to rest me.”

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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