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The Diverting History of John Gilpin   By: (1731-1800)

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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 again.

[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... Continue reading book >>

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