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though he had gathered three thousand pounds?. There have appeared likewise under his name a comedy called The Distrest
Wife?, and The Rehearsal at Gotham, a piece of humour 3. 26 The character given him by Pope is this, that he was a
natural man, without design“, who spoke what he thought, and just as he thought it'; and that he was of a timid temper, and fearful of giving offence to the great,' which caution, however,
says Pope, was of no avail 5. 27 As a poet he cannot be rated very high. He was, as I once
heard a female critick remark, 'of a lower order. He had not in any great degree the mens divinior', the dignity of genius. Much, however, must be allowed to the author of a new species of composition, though it be not of the highest kind. We owe to Gay the Ballad Opera; a mode of comedy which at first was supposed to delight only by its novelty, but has now by the experience of half a century been found so well accommodated
audience.' Gent. Mag. 1733, p. 85. Drury Lane for the suppression of See also ib. p. 78.
Polly. It was published in 1754. On March
31 Swift wrote to Pope: - * Wholly without art or design.' 'I heartily wish his Grace had entirely Spence's Anec. p. 214. stified that comedy.' Pope's Works *5 He was remarkable for an un(Elwin and Courthope), vii. 300. On willingness to offend the great by any May I he wrote :- I had rather the of his writings; he had an uncommon two sisters were hanged than see timidity upon him in relation to any his works swelled by any loss of thing of that sort. And yet you see credit to his memory. Ib. p. 309. what ill luck he had that way, after The comedy was Achilles, and not, all his care not to offend.' lb.p. 160. as stated in a note, The Distressed His friends spoke of him as “Johnny Wife. 'It was brought out at Covent Gay.' 'Johnny is a good-natured, inGarden on Feb. 10, 1733, and ran offensive man,' wrote Broome. Pope's for eighteen nights. Biog. Dram. ii. 3; Works (Elwin and Courthope), viii. Genest's Hist. of the Stage, iii. 391. 147. (See also ib. p. 144.) Broome
Spence's Anec. p. 215. The adds :- I doubt not but those lines amount was £6,000.' Cunningham's [in The Beggar's Opera) against Lives of the Poets, ii. 295.
Courts and ministers are drawn, at ? The Duchess wrote to Swift on least aggravated, by Mr. Pope. In March 4, 1733-4 :—'To-morrow will the original MS. of The Dunciad Pope be acted a new play of our friend drew him in a poet's phantom':Mr. Gay's.' Swift's Works, xviii. 180. "With laughing eyes that twinkled in It was brought out at Covent
his head, Garden on March 5, 1734. Genest's Well-looked, well-turned, well-naHist. of the Stage, iii. 428. Ac tured, and well-fed.' cording to Nichols:--It met with Pope's Works (E. & C.), iv, 279. indifferent success.' Swift's Works, See also Swift's Works, xviii. 87, 95. 1803, xix. 72 n. It was published in Johnson's wife, according to Mrs. 1743. 'Altered from Gay it was acted Piozzi. John. Misc, i. 258. in 1772 at Covent Garden.' Biog. 'Gay was a good-natured man, Dram. ii. 168.
and a little poet.' LADY M. W. MON3 It is a satire on Walpole, his TAGU, Spence's Anec. p. 234. colleagues, and the managers of 'HORACE, Sat. i. 4. 43.
to the disposition of a popular audience that it is likely to keep long possession of the stage'. Whether this new drama was the product of judgement or of luck the praise of it must be given to the inventor; and there are many writers read with more reverence to whom such merit of originality cannot be attributed.
His first performance, The Rural Sports, is such as was 28 easily planned and executed: it is never contemptible, nor ever excellent. The Fan 3 is one of those mythological fictions which antiquity delivers ready to the hand; but which, like other things that lie open to every one's use, are of little value. The attention naturally retires from a new tale of Venus, Diana, and Minerva .
His Fables seem to have been a favourite work, for, having 29 published one volume, he left another behind him. Of this ki of Fables the authors do not appear to have formed any distinct or settled notion. Phædrus evidently confounds them with Tales, and Gay both with Tales and Allegorical Prosopopoias . A Fable or Apologue, such as is now under consideration, seems to be in its genuine state a narrative in which beings irrational, and sometimes inanimate, 'arbores loquuntur, non tantum feræ?, are for the purpose of moral instruction feigned to act and speak with human interests and passions 8. To this description the compositions of Gay do not always conform. For a Fable he gives now and then a Tale or an abstracted Allegory'; and from some, by whatever name they may be called, it will be difficult to extract any moral principle. They are, however, told with liveliness: the versification is smooth, and the diction, though now and then a little constrained by the measure or the rhyme, is generally happy.
To Trivia to may be allowed all that it claims: it is spritely, 30
1 'It was the parent of that most nor anything so difficult to succeed in. monstrous of all dramatic absurdities, ... I have often admired your happithe Comic Opera.' J. WARTON, Essayness in such a kind of performance, on Pope, ii. 315.
which I have frequently endeavoured ? Ante, GAY, 3.
at in vain.' Ib. p. 274. Eng. Poets, xxxvi. 19.
6 In the first edition, 'Tales and * Ante, BUTLER, 41.
Allegories.' s Ante, GAY, 16, 25. Gay wrote of ? PHAEDRUS, Fabulae, i. Prol. them to Swift :-'Though this is 8 For the skill in making little a kind of writing that appears very
fishes talk like little fishes' see easy, I find it is the most difficult of Boswell's Johnson, ii. 231. any that I ever undertook.' Pope's . In the first edition, or an Allegory.' Works (Elwin and Courthope), vii. 10 Trivia, or The Art of Walking 268. Swift replied ::-"There is no the Streets of London, Eng. Poets, writing I esteem more than fables, xxxvi. 101. Pope wrote of it on
various, and pleasant. The subject is of that kind which Gay was by nature qualified to adorn; yet some of his decorations may be justly wished away. An honest blacksmith might have done for Patty what is performed by Vulcan'. The appearance of Cloacina is nauseous and superfluous ?; a shoeboy could have been produced by the casual cohabitation of mere mortals. Horace's rule is broken in both cases : there is no 'dignus vindice nodus 3, no difficulty that required any supernatural interposition. A patten may be made by the hammer of a mortal, and a bastard may be dropped by a human strumpet. On great occasions and on small the mind is repelled by useless and apparent
falsehood. 31 Of his little poems the publick judgement seems to be right;
they are neither much esteemed, nor totally despised. The story of the Apparition is borrowed from one of the tales of Poggio *. Those that please least are the pieces to which Gulliver gave occasions ; for who can much delight in the echo of an unnatural
fiction ? 32 Dione' is a counterpart to Amynta and Pastor Fido, and other
trifles of the same kind, easily imitated, and unworthy of imitation & What the Italians call comedies from a happy conclusion, Gay calls a tragedy from a mournful event; but the style of the Italians and of Gay is equally tragical. There is something in the poetical Arcadia so remote from known reality and speculative possibility, that we can never support its representation through a long work. A Pastoral of an hundred lines may be
Jan. 10, 1716:-'Gay's poem is just Poets, xxxvii. 14. The last chapter of on the brink of the press, to which The Decline and Fall opens on the we have had the interest to procure Capitoline Hill, where the learned him subscriptions of a guinea a book Poggius and a friend reposed themto a pretty tolerable number. I be selves among the ruins of columns lieve it may be worth £150 to him and temples, and viewed from that in the whole.' Pope's Works (Elwin commanding spot the wide and and Courthope), vi. 237. See also various prospect of desolation.' See ib. vii. 460.
also ante, PRIOR, 55 n. * Vulcan wins Patty's love by Eng. Poets, xxxvi. 298. making her a pair of pattens.
Post, SWIFT, 85. “The patten now supports each frugal ? Dione, A Pastoral Tragedy, dame,
(takes the name.' Eng. Poets, xxxvii. 207. Which from the blue-eyed Patty Ante, WALLER, 153. 'Dione
Eng. Poets, xxxvi. 112. has not rescued us from the imputa2 Ib. p. 117.
tion of having no pastoral comedy HORACE, Ars Poet. 1. 191. that can be compared in the smallest * This sentence is not in the first degree to the Aminta or Pastor Fido.' edition. For the story see Eng. J. WARTON, Essay on Pope, ii. 314.
endured; but who will hear of sheep and goats, and myrtle bowers and purling rivulets, through five acts ? Such scenes please barbarians in the dawn of literature, and children in the dawn of life; but will be for the most part thrown away as men grow wise, and nations grow learned
'Ante, MILTON, 182. Baretti cannot rescue his Orfeo from total wrote in 1768:— The fashion of disregard. An Account of the Cuspastoral plays is now so utterly ex toms of Italy, &c. i. 181. See post, ploded throughout Italy that the POPE, 30. revered name of Politian himself
or Grenville, afterwards lord Lansdown of Biddeford in the county of Devon, less is known than his name and rank might give reason to expect”. He was born about 1667, the son of Bernard Greenville, who was entrusted by Monk with the most private transactions of the Restoration), and the grandson of Sir Bevil Greenville, who died in the King's cause at the battle of
Lansdown 2 His early education was superintended by Sir William Ellis 5 ;
and his progress was such that before the age of twelve he was sent to Cambridge, where he pronounced a copy of his own verses? to the princess Mary d'Esté of Modena, then dutchess of
York, when she visited the university. 3 At the accession of king James, being now at eighteen, he
again exerted his poetical powers, and addressed the new monarch in three short pieces, of which the first is profane, and the two others such as a boy might be expected to produce ® ; but he was commended by old Waller, who perhaps was pleased to find
* Johnson, in this Life, follows don's Hist. vii. 443 ; Pepys's Diary, closely the Biog. Brit. and Gran May 2, 1660.] ville's Works (1732), which include
Clarendon's Hist. iv. his Vindications of General Monk 125. A gentleman bred up under Dr. and Sir Richard Grenville).
* Clarendon describes the Gren- Busby, and who has since been emivilles as a very ancient and worthy nent in many publick stations.' Jacob's family of Cornwall, which had in Poetical Register, i. 121. several ages produced men of great At the Revolution he followed James courage, and very signal in their II and was attainted in 1691. He fidelity to, and service of, the Crown.' was uncle of Welbore Ellis, first Baron History, iv. 563.
Mendip. Dict. Nat. Biog. 3 ['My Father, Mr. Bernard Gran 6 'At the age of thirteen he was ville, was the person entrusted by the admitted to the degree of Master of General with his last despatches to Arts.' Ib. See Graduati Cantabrig. the King to invite him home and to acquaint him that everything was Eng. Poets, xxxviii. 8, where, in then ready for his reception. A the title of the poem, the age is given. Vindication of General Monk, Gran 8 Ib. xxxviii. 9-11. In the first ville's Works, 1732, i. 481. Ber piece he begins a comparison nard's elder brother Sir John Gren with James II:-So the world's ville played a still more important Saviour.' part in these negotiations. 16.; Claren