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Origin Of Cowper's John Gilpin

It happened one afternoon, in those years when Cowper's accomplished

friend, Lady Austen, made a part of his little evening circle, that she

observed him sinking into increased dejection; it was her custom, on

these occasions, to try all the resources of her sprightly powers for

his immediate relief. She told him the story of John Gilpin, (which had

been treasured in her memory from her childhood), to dissipate the gloom

of the passing hour. Its effects on the fancy of Cowper had the air

of enchantment. He informed her the next morning that convulsions of

laughter, brought on by his recollection of her story, had kept him

waking during the greatest part of the night! and that he had turned

it into a ballad. So arose the pleasant poem of John Gilpin. To Lady

Austen's suggestion, also, we are indebted for the poem of "the Task."

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