| The Diverting History Of John Gilpin |
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's 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 Mrs. 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 frightened 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-men 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!
By WILLIAM COWPER