The Raven, Part One!

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

The Raven (Part 1)

In Wiltshire, where the farmers keep
Upon the downs great flocks of sheep,
There dwelt an honest thrifty swain,
Adjoining to the famous plain
Of Salisbury, and it was there
He grazed and fed his woolly care.

To him his teeming female bore
Eight sons, and daughters have a score;
And if that children blessings be,
None in the shire so blessed ashe:
Whilst he, a foe to idleness,
To make their charge in breeding less,
In something useful did employ
Each prating girl and forward boy:
And thus he lived a happy life,
Pleased with his children and his wife,
Until his wealth made noise, and then
His sons got farms, his daughters men.

Yet Sally, at her father’s stayed,
And though fifteen, was still a maid,
Lovely as what was ever beheld,
And all her sisters far excelled,
In shape and face, but then her mind
Was of a very different kind:
No sort of work could Sally do,
She silly was, an nothing knew.

Her father grieved, but ’twas in vain,
He sent her out upon the plain,
With scrip and bottle by her side,
In hopes that she at least might guide
His fleecy care, his much loved  sheep,
But still the fair one fell asleep:
The flock went wandering here and there,
Sure proof of Sally’s want of care.

The father chid the drowsy dame,
She wept, but next day ’twas the same;
She could not guard her eyes from sleep,
And every week she lost a sheep.
The father fretted, Sally cried,
A thousand different ways he tried,
To make her careful, but in vain,
She slept and slumbered on the plain.
At last he gravely told the maid,
If she slept thus, he was afraid,
The ravens, as they soared about,
Her eyes some day would nibble out.

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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