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but its greatest fault is its length. No poem | Stomach, but I believe rather a Complication should be long, of which the purpose is only to first of Gross Humours, as he was naturally strike the fancy, without enlightening the un- corpulent, not discharging themselves, as he derstanding by precept, ratiocination, or narused no sort of Exercise. No man better bore rative. A blaze first pleases and then tires the ye approaches of his Dissolution (as I am told) sight. or with less ostentation yielded up his Being. The great modesty wch you know was natural to him, and ye great Contempt he had for all sorts of Vanity and Parade, never appeared more than in his last moments: He had a con

Of "Florelio" it is sufficient to say, that it is an occasional pastoral, which implies something neither natural nor artificial, neither comic nor serious.

The next Ode is irregular, and therefore de-scious Satisfaction (no doubt) in acting right, fective. As the sentiments are pious, they in feeling himself honest, true, and unpretendcannot easily be new; for what can be added ing to more than was his own. So he died, as to topics on which successive ages have been he lived, with that secret, yet sufficient, Conemployed?

Of the "Paraphrase on Isaiah" nothing very favourable can be said. Sublime and solemn prose gains little by a change to blank verse; and the paraphrast has deserted his original, by admitting images not Asiatic, at least not Judaical;

-Returning Peace,

Dove-eyed, and robed in white

Of his petty poems some are very trifling, without any thing to be praised, either in the thought or expression. He is unlucky in his competitions; he tells the same idle tale with Congreve, and does not tell it so well. He translates from Ovid the same epistle as Pope; but I am afraid not with equal happiness.

To examine his performances one by one would be tedious. His translation from Homer into blank verse will find few readers, while another can be had in rhyme. The piece addressed to Lambarde is no disagreeable specimen of epistolary poetry; and his ode to Lord Gower was pronounced by Pope the next ode in the English language to Dryden's "Cecilia." Fenton may be justly styled an excellent versifier and a good poet.

Whatever I have said of Fenton is confirmed by Pope in a letter, by which he communicated to Broome an account of his death.

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As to any Papers left behind him, I dare say they can be but few; for this reason, he never wrote out of Vanity, or thought much of the Applause of men. I know an instance where he did his utmost to conceal his own merit that way; and if we join to this his natural Love of Ease, I fancy we must expect little of this sort; at least I hear of none except some few further remarks on Waller (wch his cautious integrity made him leave an order to be given to Mr. Tonson) and perhaps, tho' 'tis many years since I saw it, a Translation of ye first Book of Oppian. He had begun a tragedy of Dion, but made small progress in it.

As to his other Affairs, he died poor, but honest, leaving no Debts, or Legacies; except of a few pds to Mr. Trumbull and my Lady, in token of respect, Gratefulness, and mutual Esteem.

I shall with pleasure take upon me to draw this amiable, quiet, deserving, unpretending Christian and Philosophical character, in his Epitaph. There truth may be spoken in a few words as for Flourish, & Oratory, & Poetry, I leave them to younger and more lively Writers, such as love writing for writing sake, and wd rather shew their own Fine Parts, yn Report the valuable ones of any other man. So the Elegy I renounce.

I condole with you from my heart, on the loss of so worthy a man, and a Friend to us both. Now he is gone, I must tell you he has done you many a good office, and set your character in ye fairest light to some who either mistook you, or knew you not. I doubt not he has done the same for me.

Adieu: Let us love his memory, and profit by his example. I am very sincerely Dr Sir

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JOHN GAY, descended from an old family, that had been long in possession of the manor of Goldworthy,* in Devonshire, was born in 1688, at or near Barnstaple, where he was educated by Mr. Luck, who taught the school of that town with good reputation, and a little before he retired from it, published a volume of Latin and English verses. Under such a master he was likely to form a taste for poetry. Being born without prospect of hereditary riches, he was sent to London in his youth, and placed apprentice with a silk-mercer.

overlooked, drew up a comparison of his own compositions with those of Philips, in which he covertly gave himself the preference, while he seemed to disown it. Not content with this, he is supposed to have incited Gay to write "The Shepherd's Week;" to show, that if it be necessary to copy nature with minuteness, rural life must be exhibited such as grossness and ignorance have made it. So far the plan was reasonable: but the pastorals are introduced by a proeme, written with such imitation as they could obtain of obsolete language, and by consequence in a style that was never spoken nor written in any age or in any place.

But the effect of reality and truth became conspicuous, even when the intention was to show them grovelling and degraded. These Pastorals became popular, and were read with

How long he continued behind the counter, or with what degree of softness and dexterity he received and accommodated the ladies, as he probably took no delight in telling it, is not known. The report is, that he was soon weary of either the restraint or servility of his occupation, and easily persuaded his master to dis-delight, as just representations of rural mancharge him.

ners and occupations, by those who had no interest in the rivalry of the poets, nor knowledge of the critical dispute.

In 1713 he brought a comedy called "The Wife of Bath" upon the stage, but it received no applause; he printed it, however, and seventeen years after, having altered it, and, as he thought, adapted it more to the public taste, he offered it again to the town: but, though he was flushed with the success of the "Beggar's Opera," had the mortification to see it again rejected.

The Dutchess of Monmouth, remarkable for inflexible perseverance in her demand to be treated as a princess, in 1712 took Gay into her service as secretary: by quitting a shop for such service he might gain leisure, but he certainly advanced little in the boast of independence. Of his leisure he made so good use, that he published next year a poem on " Rural Sports," and inscribed it to Mr. Pope, who was then rising fast into reputation. Pope was pleased with the honour; and, when he became acquainted with Gay, found such attractions in In the last year of Queen Anne's life, Gay his manners and conversation, that he seems to was made secretary to the Earl of Clarendon, have received him into his inmost confidence; ambassador to the court of Hanover. This was and a friendship was formed between them a station that naturally gave him hopes of kindwhich lasted to their separation by death, with-ness from every party; but the Queen's death out any known abatement on either part. Gay put an end to her favours, and he had dedicated was the general favourite of the whole associa- his "Shepherd's Week" to Bolingbroke, which tion of wits; but they regarded him as a play- Swift considered as the crime that obstructed all fellow rather than a partner, and treated him kindness from the house of Hanover. with

more fondness than respect.

Next year he published "The Shepherd's Week," six English pastorals, in which the images are drawn from real life, such as it appears among the rustics in parts of England remate from London. Steele, in some papers of The Guardian," had praised Ambrose Philips, as the pastoral writer that yielded only to Theocritus, Virgil, and Spenser. Pope, who had also published pastorals, not pleased to be

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* Goldworthy does not appear in the Villare.--| Dr. J. Holdsworthy is probably meant.-C.

He did not, however, omit to improve the right which his office had given him to the notice of the royal family. On the arrival of the Princess of Wales, he wrote a poem, and obtained so much favour, that both the Prince and Princess went to see his "What d'ye call it," a kind of mock-tragedy, in which the images were comic, and the action grave; so that, as Pope relates, Mr. Cromwell, who could not hear what was said, was at a loss how to reconcile the laughter of the audience with the solemnity of the scene.

Of this performance the value certainly is but little; but it was one of the lucky trifies that

give pleasure by novelty, and was so much |"which," says Fenton, "will make you sure of favoured by the audience, that envy appeared a clean shirt and a shoulder of mutton every against it in the form of criticism; and Griffin, day." This council was rejected; the profit a player, in conjunction with Mr. Theobald, a and principal were lost, and Gay sunk under the man afterwards more remarkable, produced a calamity so low that his life became in danger. pamphlet called "The Key to the What d'ye By the care of his friends, among whom Pope call it ;" which, says Gay, " calls me a block- appears to have shown particular tenderness, his head, and Mr. Pope a knave." health was restored; and, returning to his studies, he wrote a tragedy called "The Captives," which he was invited to read before the Princess of Wales. When the hour came, he saw the Princess and her ladies all in expectation, and advancing with reverence too great for any other attention, stumbled at a stool, and falling for

But fortune has always been inconstant. Not long afterwards (1717) he endeavoured to entertain the town with "Three hours after Marriage;" a comedy written, as there is sufficient reason for believing, by the joint assistance of Pope and Arbuthnot. One purpose of it was to bring into contempt Dr. Wood-wards, threw down a weighty japan screen. The ward, the Fossilist, a man not really or justly contemptible. It had the fate which such outrages deserve; the scene in which Woodward was directly and apparently ridiculed, by the introduction of a mummy and a crocodile, disgust-ed at Drury Lane in 1723-4, I know not; * but ed the audience, and the performance was driven off the stage with general condemnation.

Gay is represented as a man easily incited to hope, and deeply depressed when his hopes were disappointed. This is not the character of a hero; but it may naturally imply something more generally welcome, a soft and civil companion. Whoever is apt to hope good from others is diligent to please them; but he that believes his powers strong enough to force their own way, commonly tries only to please himself. He had been simple enough to imagine that those who laughed at the "What d'ye ca.. it" would raise the fortune of its Author; and, finding nothing done, sunk into dejection. His friends endeavoured to divert him. The Earl of Burlington sent him (1716) into Devonshire; the year after, Mr. Pulteney took him to Aix; and in the following year Lord Harcourt invited him to his seat, where, during his visit, the two rural lovers were killed with lightning, as is particularly told in Pope's Letters.

Being now generally known, he published (1720) his poems by subscription, with such success, that he raised a thousand pounds; and called his friends to a consultation, what use might be best made of it. Lewis, the steward of Lord Oxford, advised him to intrust it to the funds, and live upon the interest; Arbuthnot bade him to intrust it to Providence, and live upon the principal; Pope directed him, and was seconded by Swift, to purchase an annuity.

Gay in that disastrous year* had a present from young Craggs of some South-sea stock, and once supposed himself to be master of twenty thousand pounds. His friends persuaded him to sell his share; but he dreamed of dignity and splendour and could not bear to obstruct his own fortune. He was then importuned to sell as much as would purchase a hundred a year for life,

• Spence.

Princess started, the ladies screamed, and poor Gay, after all the disturbance, was still to read his play.

The fate of "The Captives," which was act

he now thought himself in favour, and undertook (1726) to write a volume of Fables for the improvement of the young Duke of Cumberland. For this he is said to have been promised a reward, which he had doubtless magnified with all the wild expectations of indigence and vanity.

Next year the Prince and Princess became King and Queen, and Gay was to be great and happy; but upon the settlement of the household he found himself appointed gentleman usher to the Princess Louisa. By this offer he thought himself insulted, and sent a message to the Queen, that he was too old for the place. There seem to have been many machinations employed after wards in his favour; and diligent court was paid to Mrs. Howard, afterwards Countess of Suffolk, who was much beloved by the King and Queen, to engage her interest for his promotion; but solicitations, verses, and flatteries, were thrown away; the lady heard them, and did nothing.

All the pain which he suffered from the neglect, or as he perhaps termed it, the ingratitude of the court, may be supposed to have been driven away by the unexampled success of the "Beggar's Opera." This play, written in ridicule of the musical Italian drama, was first offered to Cibber and his brethren at Drury Lane, and rejected; it being then carried to Rich, had the effect, as was ludicrously said, of making Gay rich, and Rich gay.

Of this lucky piece, as the reader cannot but wish to know the original and progress, I have inserted the relation which Spence has given in Pope's words.

"Dr. Swift had been observing once to Mr. Gay, what an odd pretty sort of a thing a New

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even said, that after the exhibition of the "Beg gar's Opera," the gangs of robbers were evi

Both these decisions are surely exaggerated. The play, like many others, was plainly written only to divert, without any moral purpose, and is therefore not likely to do good; nor can it be conceived, without more speculation than life requires or admits, to be productive of much evil. Highwaymen and housebreakers seldom frequent the playhouse, or mingle in any elegant diversion; nor is it possible for any one to imagine that he may rob with safety, because he sees Mackheath reprieved upon the stage.

gate pastoral might make. Gay was inclined to
try at such a thing for some time; but after-
wards thought it would be better to write a co-dently multiplied.
medy on the same plan. This was what gave
rise to the "Beggar's Opera." He began on
it; and when first he mentioned it to Swift, the
Doctor did not much like the project. As he
carried it on, he showed what he wrote to both
of us, and we now and then gave a correction,
or a word or two of advice; but it was wholly
of his own writing.-When it was done, neither
of us thought it would succeed. We showed it
to Congreve, who, after reading it over, said,
it would either take greatly, or be damned con-
foundedly. We were all, at the first night of it,
in great uncertainty of the event; till we were
very much encouraged by overhearing the Duke
of Argyle, who sat in the next box to us, say,
'It will do it must do! I see it in the eyes of
them.' This was a good while before the first
act was over, and so gave us ease soon; for that
Duke (besides his own good taste) has a parti-
cular knack, as any one now living, in discover-
ing the taste of the public. He was quite right
in this as usual; the good nature of the audi-
ence appeared stronger and stronger every act,
and ended in a clamour of applause."

This objection, however, or some other, rather political than moral, obtained such prevalence, that when Gay produced a second part under the name of "Polly," it was prohibited by the Lord Chamberlain; and he was forced to recompense his repulse by a subscription, which is said to have been so liberally bestowed, that what he called oppression ended in profit. The publication was so much favoured, that though the first part gained him four hundred pounds, near thrice as much was the profit of the second.*

He received yet another recompence for this Its reception is thus recorded in the notes to supposed hardship in the affectionate attention the "Dunciad:"

of the Duke and Dutchess of Queensberry, "This piece was received with greater ap- into whose house he was taken, and with whom lause than was ever known. Besides being he passed the remaining part of his life. The acted in London sixty-three days without in- Duke, considering his want of economy, underterruption, and renewed the next season with took the management of his money, and gave equal applause, it spread into all the great it to him as he wanted it.* But it is supposed towns of England; was played in many places that the discountenance of the court sunk deep to the thirtieth and fortieth time; at Bath and into his heart, and gave him more discontent Bristol fifty, &c. It made its progress into than the applauses or tenderness of his friends Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, where it was could overpower. He soon fell into his old performed twenty-four days successively. The distemper, an habitual cholic, and languished, ladies carried about with them the favourite though with many intervals of ease and cheersongs of it in fans, and houses were furnished fulness, till a violent fit at last seized him, and with it in screens. The fame of it was not hurried him to the grave, as Arbuthnot reportconfined to the Author only. The person who ed, with more precipitance than he had ever acted Polly, till then obscure, became all at once known. He died on the 4th of December, the favourite of the town; her pictures were 1732, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.. engraved, and sold in great numbers; her life The letter which brought an account of his written, books of letters and verses to her pub- death to Swift was laid by for some days un-: lished, and pamphlets made even of her sayings opened, because when he received it he was and jests. Furthermore, it drove out of Eng-impressed with the preconception of some misland (for that season) the Italian opera, which had carried all before it for ten years."


After his death, was published a second voOf this performance, when it was printed, lume of "Fables," more political than the the reception was different, according to the dif- former. His opera of "Achilles" was acted, ferent opinion of its readers. Swift commend- and the profits were given to two widow sisters, ed it for the excellence of its morality, as a who inherited what he left, as his lawful heirs; piece that "placed all kinds of vice in the for he died without a will, though he had gastrongest and most odious light;" but others, thered* three thousand pounds. There have and among them Dr. Herring, afterwards appeared likewise under his name a comedy Archbishop of Canterbury, censured it as giv-called "The Distressed Wife," and "The Re-ing encouragement not only to vice but to hearsal at Gotham," a piece of humour crimes, by making a highwayman the hero, and dismissing him at last unpunished. It has been

* Spence.

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.

As a poet, he cannot be rated very high. He was, as I once heard a female critic 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 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 judgment 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 easily planned and executed; it is never contemptible nor ever excellent. The "Fan" 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 published one volume, he left another behind him. Of this kind 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 prosopopoeias. 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 fere, are, for the purpose of moral instruction, feigned to act and speak with human interests and passions. To this description the compositions of Gay do

* Spence.

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" may be allowed all that it claims; it is sprightly, 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. honest blacksmith might have done for Patty what is performed by Vulcan. The appearance of Cloacina is nauseous and superfluous; a shoe-boy 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, 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.

Of his little poems the public judgment 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 occasion; for who can much delight in the echo of unnatural fiction?

"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 a hundred lines may be 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.


OF GEORGE GRANVILLE, or, as others write | Landsdown, of Bideford in the county of Greenville, or Grenville, afterwards Lord Devon, less is known than his name and higł Dd

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