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“What news? what news? your tidings tell;

Tell me you must and shallSay 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 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;

John Gilpin


Whence straight he came with hat and wig;

A wig that flowed behind,
A hat not much the worse for we. r,

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 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 amain: Whom in a trice he tried to stop,

By catching at his rein;

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Away went Gilpin, and away

Went postboy at his heels,
The postboy's horse right glad to miss

The lumbering of the wheels.

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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.

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And now the turnpike gates again

Flew open in short space;
The toll-men thinking, as before,

That Gilpin rode a race.

The Razor-Seller


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!

William Cowper (1731–1800)



A FELLOW in a market-town,
Most musical, cried “Razors!” up and down,

And offered twelve for eighteen pence;
Which certainly seemed wondrous cheap,
And, for the money, quite a heap,

As every man should buy, with cash and sense.

A country bumpkin the great offer heard, -
Poor Hodge, who suffered by a thick black beard,

That seemed a shoe-brush stuck beneath his nose:
With cheerfulness the eighteen pence he paid,
And proudly to himself in whispers said,

“This rascal stole the razors, I suppose!

"No matter if the fellow be a knave,
Provided that the razors rave;

It sarlinly will be a monstrous prize.”
So home the clown, with his good fortune, went,
Smiling, in heart and soul content,

And quickly soaped himself to ears and eyes.

Being well lathered from a dish or tub,
Hodge now began with grinning pain to grub,

Just like a hedger cutting furze;
'Twas a vile razor!-then the rest he tried,
All were impostors. "Ah!" Hodge sighed,

“I wish my eighteen pence were in my purse."


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In vain, to chase his beard, and bring the graces,

He cut, and dug, and winced, and stamped, and swore;
Brought blood, and danced, blasphemed, and made wty

And cursed each razor's body o'er and o’er:
His muzzle, formed of opposition stuff,
Firm as a Foxite, would not lose its ruff;

So kept it, - laughing at the steel and suds.
Hodge, in a passion, stretched his angry jaws,
Vowing the direst vengeance, with clenched claws,

On the vile cheat that sold the goods. “Razors! a base, confounded dog! Not fit to scrape a hog!” Hodge sought the fellow,-found him,-and begun: “P’rhaps, Master Razor-rogue, to you 'tis fun

That people flay themselves out of their lives.
You rascal! for an hour have I been grubbing,
Giving my whiskers here a scrubbing,

With razors just like oyster-knives.
Sirrah! I tell you you're a knave,
To cry up razors that can't shave!”
“Friend,” quoth the razor-man, “I'm not a knave;

As for the razors you have bought,

Upon my soul, I never thought That they would shave."Not think they'd shave...quoth Hodge, with wondering

eycs;** And voice not much unlike an Indian yell; “What were they made for, then, you dog?” he cries. “Made,” quoth the fellow, with a smile, — " to sell."

John Wolcot (1738-1819)

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The tree of deepest root is found
Least willing still to quit the ground:
'Twas therefore said by ancient sages,

That love of life increased with years

To An

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