Posts Tagged ‘The Sutler’

The Sutler!

February 19, 2017

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

The Sutler

It happened in Flanders, when Louis le Grand
Beat the allies each year under William’s command.
The confederates seeing they fought but in vain
Did wisely  resolve to break up the campaign;
The weather was cold, to quarters they went,
But whether to Brusssels, to Bruges, or Ghent,
Or Bergen-op-zoom, it doth not avail
A groat to the public, far less to my tale;
But, as I was saying, the tents were all struck,
Amongst them a sutler’s, who had the good luck
To have a large purse to the strings full of gold,
In return for the meat and the wine he had sold,
A large covered wagon he had of his own,
And four as good horses as ever were known:
In this he enclosed his wife and his pelf,
And, for saving expenses, he drove it himself.

I often have heard it, and I think it is right,
A purse very heavy makes a heart very light;
‘Twas so with the sutler, who whistled all day,
Till he met with a party of French by the way,
That seized on his wagon, searched him and his wife,
And put him in bodily fear of his life:
He cursed his hard fortune, and his cruel stars,
And railed at the men who delighted in wars:
His goods taken from him and stripped to the skin,
In sorrowful pickle he went to an inn,
Where he sighed and he grieved, and complained of his fate.
At last he was cheered by his kind loving mate,
Who said to him, “Robin, pray be not cast down
“In a pint of Geneva our sorrow we’ll drown.”
“Alas!” said the man, “you’re distracted, I think
“I have not a farthing to pay for the drink.”
“No matter,” she said, and looked with a smile,
“I did the damned party, in some sort, beguile;”
Then drew out a purse, twice as big as your fist,
“Thought they searched me,” said she, “this treasure they missed;”
“then, prithee, be cheerful.”  This gave him new life,
He wept, and he laughed, and he ogled his wife,
And leering upon her, said, “Tell me, my dear,
“Where was it you hid the purse I see here?”
She smiled on her spouse, then laughed in his face,
“I hit it,” said she, “in a certain place,
“With which you’re acquainted.”  He said, — “My dear life,
“I see you’re a careful and provident wife;
“You’ve done very well, but you’d had more to brag on,
“If you there had disposed of the horses and wagon.”

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.).