Infomotions, Inc.The Diverting History of John Gilpin / Cowper, William, 1731-1800

Author: Cowper, William, 1731-1800
Title: The Diverting History of John Gilpin
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): gilpin; john gilpin; trademark; refund; archive; literary; access; donations; john
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Size: 5,011 words (really short) Grade range: 9-12 (high school) Readability score: 55 (average)
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Title: The Diverting History of John Gilpin

Author: William Cowper

Release Date: April 9, 2004 [EBook #11979]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ASCII


Produced by Suzanne Shell, Marit Henningsen and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team

The Diverting History of John Gilpin

One of R. Caldecott's Picture Books


[Illustration: The Diverting History of John Gilpin]



_Showing how he went farther than he intended, and came safe home

[Illustration: Written by William Cowper with drawings by R. Caldecott.]

    John Gilpin was a citizen
      Of credit and renown,
    A train-band captain eke was he,
      Of famous London town.

    John Gilpin's spouse said to her dear,
      "Though wedded we have been
    These twice ten tedious years, yet we
      No holiday have seen.

    "To-morrow is our wedding-day,
      And we will then repair
    Unto the 'Bell' at Edmonton,
      All in a chaise and pair.

    "My sister, and my sister's child,
      Myself, and children three,
    Will fill the chaise; so you must ride
      On horseback after we."
    [Illustration: The Linendraper bold]

    He soon replied, "I do admire
      Of womankind but one,
    And you are she, my dearest dear,
      Therefore it shall be done.

    "I am a linendraper bold,
      As all the world doth know,
    And my good friend the calender
      Will lend his horse to go."

    Quoth Mrs. Gilpin, "That's well said;
      And for that wine is dear,
    We will be furnished with our own,
      Which is both bright and clear."

    John Gilpin kissed his loving wife.
      O'erjoyed was he to find.
    That though on pleasure she was bent,
      She had a frugal mind.



    The morning came, the chaise was brought,
      But yet was not allowed
    To drive up to the door, lest all
      Should say that she was proud.

    So three doors off the chaise was stayed,
      Where they did all get in;
    Six precious souls, and all agog
      To dash through thick and thin.

    Smack went the whip, round went the wheels,
      Were never folks so glad!
    The stones did rattle underneath,
      As if Cheapside were mad.

    John Gilpin at his horse's side
      Seized fast the flowing mane,
    And up he got, in haste to ride,
      But soon came down again;

    For saddletree scarce reached had he,
      His journey to begin,
    When, turning round his head, he saw
      Three customers come in.

    So down he came; for loss of time,
      Although it grieved him sore,
    Yet loss of pence, full well he knew,
      Would trouble him much more.

    [Illustration: The 3 Customers]


    'Twas long before the customers
      Were suited to their mind,
    When Betty screaming came downstairs,
      "The wine is left behind!"

    "Good lack!" quoth he, "yet bring it me,
      My leathern belt likewise,
    In which I bear my trusty sword
      When I do exercise."

    Now Mistress Gilpin (careful soul!)
      Had two stone bottles found,
    To hold the liquor that she loved,
      And keep it safe and sound.

    Each bottle had a curling ear,
      Through which the belt he drew,
    And hung a bottle on each side,
      To make his balance true.

    Then over all, that he might be
      Equipped from top to toe,
    His long red cloak, well brushed and neat,
      He manfully did throw.

    Now see him mounted once again
      Upon his nimble steed,
    Full slowly pacing o'er the stones,
      With caution and good heed.


    But finding soon a smoother road
      Beneath his well-shod feet,
    The snorting beast began to trot,
      Which galled him in his seat.


    "So, fair and softly!" John he cried,
      But John he cried in vain;
    That trot became a gallop soon,
      In spite of curb and rein.

    So stooping down, as needs he must
      Who cannot sit upright,
    He grasped the mane with both his hands,
      And eke with all his might.

    His horse, who never in that sort
      Had handled been before,
    What thing upon his back had got,
      Did wonder more and more.

    Away went Gilpin, neck or nought,
      Away went hat and wig;
    He little dreamt, when he set out,
      Of running such a rig.

    The wind did blow, the cloak did fly
      Like streamer long and gay,
    Till, loop and button failing both.
      At last it flew away.


    Then might all people well discern
      The bottles he had slung;
    A bottle swinging at each side,
      As hath been said or sung.

    The dogs did bark, the children screamed,
      Up flew the windows all;
    And every soul cried out, "Well done!"
      As loud as he could bawl.

    Away went Gilpin--who but he?
      His fame soon spread around;
    "He carries weight! he rides a race!
      'Tis for a thousand pound!"

    And still as fast as he drew near,
      'Twas wonderful to view
    How in a trice the turnpike-men
      Their gates wide open threw.




    And now, as he went bowing down
      His reeking head full low,
    The bottles twain behind his back
      Were shattered at a blow.

    Down ran the wine into the road,
      Most piteous to be seen,
    Which made the horse's flanks to smoke,
      As they had basted been.


    But still he seemed to carry weight.
      With leathern girdle braced;
    For all might see the bottle-necks
      Still dangling at his waist.


    Thus all through merry Islington
      These gambols he did play,
    Until he came unto the Wash
      Of Edmonton so gay;

    And there he threw the wash about
      On both sides of the way,
    Just like unto a trundling mop,
      Or a wild goose at play.


    At Edmonton his loving wife
      From the balcony spied
    Her tender husband, wondering much
      To see how he did ride.

    "Stop, stop, John Gilpin!--Here's the house!"
       They all at once did cry;
    "The dinner waits, and we are tired;"
       Said Gilpin--"So am I!"


    But yet his horse was not a whit
      Inclined to tarry there;
    For why?--his owner had a house
      Full ten miles off, at Ware.

    So like an arrow swift he flew,
      Shot by an archer strong;
    So did he fly--which brings me to
      The middle of my song.


    Away went Gilpin, out of breath,
      And sore against his will,
    Till at his friend the calender's
      His horse at last stood still.


    The calender, amazed to see
      His neighbour in such trim,
    Laid down his pipe, flew to the gate.
      And thus accosted him:

    "What news? what news? your tidings tell;
      Tell me you must and shall--
    Say why bareheaded you are come,
    Or why you come at all?"

    Now Gilpin had a pleasant wit,
      And loved a timely joke;
    And thus unto the calender
      In merry guise he spoke:

    "I came because your horse would come;
      And, if I well forebode,
    My hat and wig will soon be here,
      They are upon the road."

    The calender, right glad to find
      His friend in merry pin,
    Returned him not a single word,
      But to the house went in;

    Whence straight he came with hat and wig,
      A wig that flowed behind,
    A hat not much the worse for wear,
      Each comely in its kind.


    He held them up, and in his turn
      Thus showed his ready wit:
    "My head is twice as big as yours,
      They therefore needs must fit."


    "But let me scrape the dirt away,
        That hangs upon your face;
    And stop and eat, for well you may
        Be in a hungry case."

    Said John, "It is my wedding-day,
        And all the world would stare
    If wife should dine at Edmonton,
        And I should dine at Ware."

    So turning to his horse, he said
        "I am in haste to dine;
    'Twas for your pleasure you came here,
        You shall go back for mine."

    Ah! luckless speech, and bootless boast!
        For which he paid full dear;
    For while he spake, a braying ass
        Did sing most loud and clear;

    Whereat his horse did snort, as he
        Had heard a lion roar,
    And galloped off with all his might,
        As he had done before.


    Away went Gilpin, and away
      Went Gilpin's hat and wig;
    He lost them sooner than at first,
      For why?--they were too big.


    Now Mistress Gilpin, when she saw
      Her husband posting down
    Into the country far away,
      She pulled out half-a-crown;

    And thus unto the youth she said
      That drove them to the "Bell,"
    "This shall be yours when you bring back
      My husband safe and well."


    The youth did ride, and soon did meet
        John coming back amain;
    Whom in a trice he tried to stop,
        By catching at his rein.

    But not performing what he meant,
        And gladly would have done,
    The frighted steed he frighted more,
        And made him faster run.

    Away went Gilpin, and away
      Went postboy at his heels,
    The postboy's horse right glad to miss
      The lumbering of the wheels.


    Six gentlemen upon the road,
      Thus seeing Gilpin fly,
    With postboy scampering in the rear.
      They raised the hue and cry.

    "Stop thief! stop thief! a highwayman!'"
        Not one of them was mute;
    And all and each that passed that way
        Did join in the pursuit.





    And now the turnpike-gates again
      Flew open in short space;
    The toll-man thinking, as before,
      That Gilpin rode a race.

    And so he did, and won it too,
      For he got first to town;
    Nor stopped till where he had got up,
      He did again get down.

    Now let us sing, Long live the King,
      And Gilpin, long live he;
    And when he next doth ride abroad.
      May I be there to see.



Randolph Caldecott's

Picture Books

"The humour of Randolph Caldecott's drawings is simply irresistible, no
healthy-minded man, woman, or child could look at them without

_In square crown 4to, picture covers, with numerous coloured plates._

    1 John Gilpin
    2 The House that Jack Built
    3 The Babes in the Wood
    4 The Mad Dog
    5 Three Jovial Huntsmen
    6 Sing a Song for Sixpence
    7 The Queen of Hearts
    8 The Farmer's Boy
    9 The Milkmaid
    10 Hey-Diddle-Diddle and Baby Bunting
    11 A Frog He Would a-Wooing Go
    12 The Fox Jumps over the Parson's Gate
    13 Come Lasses,and Lads
    14 Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross, &c.
    15 Mrs. Mary Blaize
    16 The Great Panjandrum Himself

_The above selections are also issued in Four Volumes, square crown 4to,
attractive binding, red edges. Each containing four different books,
with their Coloured Pictures and numerous Outline Sketches_

    1 R. Caldecott's Picture Book No. 1
    2 R. Caldecott's Picture Book No. 2
    3 Hey-Diddle-Diddle-Picture Book
    4 The Panjandrum Picture Book

_And also_

_In Two Volumes, handsomely bound in cloth gilt, each containing eight
different books, with their Coloured Pictures, and numerous Outline

    R. Caldecott's Collection of Pictures and Songs No. 1
    R. Caldecott's Collection of Pictures and Songs No. 2

    Miniature Editions,
    _size 5-1/2 by 4-1/2
    Art Boards, flat backs_
    NOS. 1, 2, 3 AND 4
    _Each containing coloured
    plates and numerous
    Outline Sketches in
    the text._

    _Crown 4to
    picture covers_
    Randolph Caldecott's
    Painting Books.
    Three Volumes
    _Each with Outline
    Pictures to Paint, and
    Coloured Examples._

    _Oblong 4to, cloth._
    A Sketch Book
    of R. Caldecott's.
    _Containing numerous
    sketches in Colour
    and black and white._

LONDON. Frederick Warne & Co. Ltd. & NEW YORK. _The Published Prices of
the above Picture Books can be obtained of all Booksellers or from the
Illustrated Catalogue of the Publishers_ PRINTED AND COPYRIGHTED BY

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by William Cowper


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