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A thousand ages in Thy sight

Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night

Before the rising sun.

5

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,

Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream

Dies at the opening day.
O God, our help in ages past,

Our hope for years to come,
Be Thou our guard while troubles last,

And our eternal home.

10

WILLIAM COWPER

ENGLAND, 1731–1800

The Diverting History of John Gilpin

John Gilpin was a citizen

Of credit and renown,
A trainband captain eke was he

Of famous London town.

15

John Gilpin's spouse said to her dear,

Though wedded we have been These twice ten tedious years, yet we

No holiday have seen.

20

“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.

10

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.”

15

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.”

20

John Gilpin kiss'd 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 allow'd
To drive up to the door, lest all

Should say that she was proud.

So three doors off the chaise was stay'd,

Where they did all get in; Six precious souls, and all agog

To dash through thick and thin.

10

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;

15

For saddletree scarce reach'd had he

His journey to begin,
When, turning round his head, he saw

Three customers come in.

20

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,

'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."

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10

Now Mistress Gilpin (careful soul !)

Had two stone bottles found,
To hold the liquor that she loved

And keep it safe and sound.

Then over all, that he might be

Equipp'd from top to toe,
His long red cloak, well brush'd and neat,

He manfully did throw.

15

Now see him mounted once again

Upon his nimble steed,
Full slowly pacing o'er the stones,

With caution and good heed.

20

But finding soon a smoother road

Beneath his well-shod feet,
The snorting beast began to trot,

Which gall’d 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.

5

So stooping down, as needs he must

Who cannot sit upright,
He grasp'd the mane with both his hands,

And eke with all his might.

10

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.

15

The wind did blow, the cloak did fly,

Like streamer long and gay, Till, loop and button failing both,

At last it flew away.

20

Then might all people well discern

The bottles he had slung;
A bottle swinging at each side,

As hath been said or sung.

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