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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 his 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 só 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!'

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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 few,

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.

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* 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 again: 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:

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'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!

RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN

[1751-1816]

325

DRINKING SONG

HERE's to the maiden of bashful fifteen,

Here's to the widow of fifty;
Here's to the flaunting extravagant quean,

And here's to the housewife that's thrifty;

Chorus. Let the toast pass,

Drink to the lass,
I'll warrant she'll prove an excuse for the glass.

Here's to the charmer, whose dimples we prize,

And now to the maid who has none, sir, Here's to the girl with a pair of blue eyes, And here's to the nymph with but one, sir.

Let the toast pass, etc.

Here's to the maid with a bosom of snow,

And to her that's as brown as a berry;
Here's to the wife with a face full of woe,
And now to the girl that is merry:

Let the toast pass, etc.

For let 'em be clumsy, or let 'em be slim,

Young or ancient, I care not a feather;
So fill a pint bumper quite up to the brim,

And let us e'en toast them together.

Chorus. Let the toast pass,

Drink to the lass,
I'll warrant she'll prove an excuse for the glass.

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