“I came because your horse would come;
And, if I well forbode,

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;

205 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
210 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
215 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 220 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;

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

Away went Gilpin, and away
230 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,
235 With posthov scampering in the rear,
They raised the hue and cry;-

“Stop thief stop thief a highwayman l’”
Not one of them was mute;
And all and each that passed that way
240 Did join in the pursuit.

And now the turnpike gates again
Flew open in short space;

The toll-men thinking as before,
That Gilpin rode a race.

245 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,”
250 And Gilpin, long live he;
And when he next doth ride abroad
May I be there to see |


Biographical: William Cowper, 1731-1800, was a famous English poet. His poems range from religious to humorous subjects.

Notes and Questions

What was the occasion of the ride? | Why did people think John Gilpin

What tells you that the linen- rode for a wager? draper lived over his shop? Edmonton—a suburb of London. Which stanza is most amusing? The Bell—the Inn.

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“the postboy's horse right glad to miss the lumbering of the wheels'’



I SPRANG to the stirrup, and Joris, and he:
I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three;
“Good speed l’ cried the watch, as the gate-bolts undrew;
“Speed l’ echoed the wall to us galloping through;
5 Behind shut the postern, the lights sank to rest,
And into the midnight we galloped abreast.

Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace
Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place;
I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight,
10 Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right,
Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit,
Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.

'Twas moonset at starting; but while we drew near Lokeren, the cocks crew and twilight dawned clear; 15 At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see; At Düffeld, 'twas morning as plain as could be; And from Mecheln church-steeple we heard the half-chime, . So Joris broke silence with, “Yet there is time !”

At Aershot, up leaped of a sudden the sun,
20 And against him the cattle stood black every one,
To stare through the mist at us galloping past,
And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last,
With resolute shoulders, each butting away
The haze, as some bluff river headland its spray:

25 And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back
For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track;
And one eye's black intelligence,—ever that glance
O'er its white edge at me, his own master, askance!

How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Air 35

And the thick heavy spume-flakes which aye and anon 30 His fierce lips shook upwards in galloping on.

By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, “Stay spur !
Your Roos galloped bravely, the fault's not in her,
We'll remember at Aix”—for one heard the quick wheeze
Of her chest, saw the stretched neck and staggering knees,
35 And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank,
As down on her haunches she shuddered and sank.

So, we were left galloping, Joris and I,
Past Looz and past Tongres, no cloud in the sky;
The broad sun above laughed a pitiless laugh,
* Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff;
Till over by Dalhem, a dome-spire sprang white,
And “Gallop,” gasped Joris, “for Aix is in sight!”

“How they’ll greet us!”—and all in a moment his roan
Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone;
45 And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight
Of the news which alone could save Aix from her fate,
With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,
And with circles of red for his eye-sockets’ rim.

Then I cast loose my buffcoat, each holster let fall, 50 Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all, Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear, Called my Roland his pet-name, my horse without peer; Clapped my hands, laughed and sang, any noise, bad or good, Till at length into Aix Roland galloped and stood.

55 And all I remember is—friends flocking round
As I sat with his head 'twixt my knees on the ground;
And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,
As I poured down his throat our last measure of wine,
Which (the burgesses voted by common consent)

60 Was no more than his due who brought good news from Ghent

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