Posts Tagged ‘Small Print’

Small Print!

June 19, 2017

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

Small Print

I knew a judge, alas the day!
Death took the honest man away;
He was my true, my steady friend,
And so continued to the end:
Though old, he had a deal of wit,
Whole days we would together sit;
Together sup, together dine,
Sometimes drink arrack, sometimes wine.
Pen, ink, and paper still was by,
For oft we did the rhyming try;
Our lines were from ill-nature free,
This made us never disagree.

One day, when wearied on the bench,
He to the tavern went to quench
His raging thirst; I met him there,
And while he did the bowl prepare,
I from my pocket gravely drew
A verse that was entirely new.
On this he took his glasses out,
And straightway clapped them cross his snout,
But thought it would not be amiss,
Ere he began, to go and p—–,
The careless waiter had forgot
To set down a clean chamber-pot,
So to the door the honest judge
Did, without once complaining trudge,
But thoughtlessly (as I suppose)
Still kept the glasses on his nose.

While thus employed, a maid came by,
And did his dwarfish member spy;
But, much offended with the sight,
Cried out, “Your honor’s in the right,
“With spectacles, perhaps, you’ll see,
“What otherwise would hidden be;
“For me, I vow to God, I’d squint,
“If I were put to read such print.”

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.).