Old Reeky!

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

Old Reeky

In Edinburgh, famed for oysters and drink,
For noise in the morning, in the evening for stink,
I hear, for, thank Heaven, I was never there,
A dozen families live in one stair:
By this means the stairs are crowded all day.
And ladies and coal-bearers oft in your way:
So sometimes your shins, and sometimes your heart,
As Providence orders, may happen to smart;
But when night comes on, your danger grows great,
The stairs are all winding, they’re steep and they’re strait;
And if you are rash, and not circumspect,
Each step that you take, you venture your neck;
No lantern, no lamp, nor no kind of light,
Is used in that city, to guide you aright.

A comical fellow, who lately was there,
Declared, that, one evening a-climbing  a stair,
His hand held before him, as still he was wont,
Went plump to the knuckles in a lady’s —-
The inside was hot, and the outside was furred,
But yet its dumb owner spoke never a word,
But kicked like a devil: at last she cried out,
“You fumbling blockhead, what are you about?”

“By G-d,” said the fellow, who laughed at the joke,
“I’m glad that your ladyship silence has broke;
“Since you are a woman, I will thrust my —- in,
“But I thought you a cow by your —– and your kicking.”

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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