John Gilpin's Steam Coach Excursion

PART I. Click here!

NOW let us sing, long live the King,
And Gilpin¹ long live he ;
And when he next doth ride abroad
May I be there to see."

So sang a sweet, a deathless bard,
To lull no idle pain ;
Distant in genius as in fate,
I emulate the strain.

Full many a trip hath Gilpin since
Achiev'd, yet who doth know it?
For thou dear Cowperº, wast not there;
The Hero lack'd a poet.

But I was there when, bent to prove,
What seem'd but fairy dream,
Wife, self, & children first launch'd forth
For Margateº, bound by steam. [Note 197.1]

     The Velocipede¹.

And I was there when mounted gay,
On steed of magic skill,
Velocipede y'clep'd¹ he gain'd
The base of Hampstead hill.

To gain the steep was not his lot,
Till puzzling each beholder,
Revers'd their fate, the rider walk'd,
Steed mounted on his shoulder.

And oh ! I heard him then and there,
Assert, in doleful ditty,
Riding was tenfold more a toil,
Than walking in the City.

But these were tame suburban feats,
To loftier themes I rise;
Sing how to Harrow_on_the_Hillº,
He rode steam carriage wise ! [Note 197.2]

Steam carriage wise he rode and well,
The occasion graced the deed ;
For wife and self to enter son
At Harrowº had decreed.

"Our Jack is sure a youth of parts,
As many a friend hath told him :
Is it then just what think you dear ?
A draper's shop should hold him ?" [Note 197.3]

     Woman's Logic.

Thus many a month did Gilpin's spouse
Extol poor Johnny's learning,
Till Gilpin won or worn agreed,
To yield to her discerning.

"Now, Mr. G. you show your sense;
These cits¹ are all so narrow¹
No, Jack shall he a gentleman,
And go to school at Harrow."

"And Mr. G. she thus resum'd,
For pride as well you know,
I scorn it, yet in such a case,
'Twere well to make a show.

"They tell me steam is all the rage,
And 'twill not cost much more;
And I'll he bound no boy has thus
Been enter'd there before."

Oh, woman's logic ! Gilpin pause !
Yet no 'tis now too late ;
Here comes the carnage ! what ensued
My second strain shall state.


OH! there was packing there that day,
Of hampers and portmanteau,
Of clothes and toys, to schedule which
Would cost the muse a canto.

     Rapid Progress.

Nor least with reverence be it sung,
To guard against disaster,
A cake to carve amongst the boys,
A hare to sooth the master. modal article="note-197-4"}[Note 197.4]{/modal}

new Note 197.4

The charcoal glows ; the water steams:
The well oil'd piston rises ;
Each cog, impatient of delay,
Its lumbering load despises.

Dash, dash, they go ! the city ouakes;
St. Andrew's, Holborn, trembles;
St. Giles's starts ; and Oxford Street
In wondering crowds assembles.

Gilpin was at the helm ; his spouse
To tend the fire had boasted:
"Hard if a pot she could not boil,
Who many a goose had roasted."

And boil it did ; and on they rush'd ;
Nought barr'd their conquering way;
While hackneys¹, cabs, cart, coach, and horse.
In one wide ruin lay.

"'Tis pleasant journeying, Mr. G.
One cannot call it vapid."
True yet, methinks, "returned her spouse,
"We travel somewhat rapid."

     The Explosion.

"Well then, put down the damper¹ there,
And load it well with hampers,"
She spoke ; and wise her kitchen lore,
Had safety valves been dampers²,

But valves for safety would not brook
Such dastardly detention :
The explosion dire that quick ensued
The muse needs scarcely mention.

Dear master Johnny, nurse and fry,
Young Gilpins four or five,
Pitch'd on a hay stack, well rejoic'd
To find themselves alive.

"Stop, stop, Papa : we cannot run
So fast as you do travel :
Pray stop the roads are full of mud,
Our shoes are full of gravel."

"Ill stop the fly¹," cried Mrs. G.
And sooth she strove to do it;
But who to stop a fly doth strive,
Assuredly will rue it.

And this experienc'd Mrs. G.
When safe, though much affrighted,
Joining the party on the road
She tangent-wise alighted.

"Stop, stop, dear husband; stop papa;
Stop master," all in chorus
Exclaim our party on the road,
As Gilpin flies 'before us.

     The Dilemma.

"Stop, stop," the wondering rustics cry;
"The gem'man travels rare¹;
Sure he mistakes our Harrow Hill
For Edmonton or Ware." [Note 197.5]

And stop be did but time & place,
And cause of his enthralment.,
The muse reserves with frugal skill,
To grace her next instalment.


WHO travell'd hath the Harrow road
In waggon or in carriage,
Knows well the bridge which men in scorn, [Note 197.6]
Its virtues to disparage.

Surnamed " the Dangerous" dangerous once
No longer so I ween¹ ;
For swept 'away it was with floods,
Though now built up again.

So tottering was its bankrupt frame
No mortal would endorse it;
Yet not to Gilpin dangerous 'twas
For why ? he did not cross it.

To tempt the ford beside its span
Prefer'd our prudent draper;
Or truth to speak 'twas not his choice,
But choose the instinctive vapour.

     The Carriage Stopped.

But vapour found a conquerer too
For Naiads¹ cool'd his march,
Till in mid-stream the carriage stopp'd
Beneath the dangerous arch.

No lack of time had Gilpin's spouse
And babes, that luckless day,
To overtake the reverend sire,
Who calm at anchor lay.

"Lend, me a rope; there haul the trunks
The hare the cold_collection;" [Note 197.7]
So madam nam'd the viands stor'd
To grace that day's refection.

The gathering villager's obey'd;
The cargo safe was landed ;
Poor Gilpin, he alone, left last,
In mid-stream still lay stranded.

But ere the rope he caught, the steam,
Conscious of ligliten'd load,
Resum'd her breath, the wheels revolv'd,
And off the carriage rode.

Again the chace to Harrow Hill
Wife, children, crowd and all;
And many a cart, and horse and gig¹,
Again was doom'd to fall.

"Throw out the fire!" he straight obey'd,
In shoals the embers flew ;
And smoking thatch and blazing ricks
Proclaim'd his aim right true.

     The Return.

The fire now check'd, the water spent,
At Harrow's steepy base
Our hero curb'd his bolting steed,
And found a resting place.

Now, wife and chicks, in car replac'd,
With many a welcome hearty,
Up Harrow Hill at sober pace,
A hay cart tows the party.

To tell the wit that How'd that day
My feeble skill surpasses;
Or how the toll_man¹ made a fee
For carriage work'd by asses. [Note 197.8]

This solely falls to me to sing,
That madam's cold collation,
While chaise¹ and pair were horsing too,
Concluded the ovation.

Home they return'd ; nor needed torch
Or harvest moon to guide them,
For glowing barns and farmers' ricks
Casl ample blaze beside them.

Young Johnny took to father's trade,
Ana work'd out his indentures¹
Now grown a common_councilman¹,
He seeks no new adventures.



ACKNOWLEDGMENT is due to a recent Number of the Christian_Observer¹, for the foregoing verses, under the signature of 'Cowperianus", the writer, (after other observations, some of which are introduced in our title page,) observes that 'he happened to need an hour's complete "play" to give the mind time to recover its tone, after some pursuits of a very serious and absorbing character. Had Cowper offered to your Gravityship his inimitable lines on Gilpin, I should have expected to see in your next answer to correspondents, the announcement " W C's. stanzas are not consistant with our plan." I must not therefore frown, should you append a similar notification to my humble continuation of them; but I forewarn you, in that case, of the wrath of all my young friends ; one of whom, by the way, reminds that you once admitted a continuation of Cowper's Eyes and Nose, and therefore cannot, in justice, exclude a sequel to his Gilpin. Wishing you the best success in your more important matters, I plead for the little indulgence of a playful parenthesis.'