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To the Editor of the Oxford Enter- Why all that soothes a heart from antaining Miscellany.
guish free, SIR,
All that delights the happy-palls on Perhaps few of your readers have seen the accompany
CONTENTMENT. ing Poem by CowPER"(not pub
DOWN in the vale, a rural cot lished in his works) and by insert
Peeps thro' the oak-tree's foliage ing it in your highly interesting
green ; work you will oblige your's, Where Peace and Virtue grace the LECTOR.
And Vice is never seen. Doom'd as I am in solitude to waste
There dwells a happy simple swain, The present moments, and regret the
There dwells his wife and offspring past; Depriv'd of every joy I valued most, Pride never gave their bosoms pain, My friend torn from, and my mistress
Nor guilty conscience fear.
Their simple meal no pomp displays, Call not this gloom I wear, this anxi
Their manners too are plain and mild, ous mien,
No costly suit the swain arrays, The dull effect of humour or of spleen!
Nor yet his wife or child. Still, still I mourn, with each return
Nature alone informs their hearts, ing day,
Untaught by books of good or ill? Him snatch'd by fate, in early youth
Each trifling charm such joy impartsaway ;
As virtue can instil. And her thro' tedious years of doubt
Contented with their humble fare, and pain
They pass their happy cheerful hours; Fix'd in her choice and faithful-but
No wishes vain their peace ensnare in vain
Their path is strew'd with flow'rs. Oh! prone to pity, gen'rons and sin
Then blest is he who can resign cere,
For peace like this his wealth and Whose eye ne'er yet refus'd the wretch
fame; a tear,
Riches can canker peace of mind, Whose heart the real claim of friend,
The other's, but a name! ship knows, Nor thinks a lover's are but fancied woes ;
In answer to an enquiry, how a pera
son had slept. See me, 'ere yet my destin'd course
half done, Cast forth, a wand'rer, on a world un- 'Tis not, O bed, thy downy throne,
The troubled mind composesknown! See me neglected on the world's rude 'Tis vice that makes the bed of thorns,
BY A LADY.
And virtue that of roses. coast, Each dear companion of my voyage lost !
TO CORRESPONDENTS, Nor ask why clouds of sorrow shade my brow,
Numerous communications have And ready tears wait only leave to been received since our last, which
will meet with early attention. No. 5, Vol. I.---July 7, 1824.
[ Printed and Published by F. Trash, Oxford.
he became acquainted with Gay, Select Biography.
found such attractions in his man.
ners and conversation, that he “No part of History is more in- seems to have received him into structive and delightful than the Lives
his inmost confidence; and a of great and worthy Men.”
BURNETT. friendship was formed which last
ed to their separation by death, LIFE OF GAY.
known abatement on JOHN GAY, descended from an
Gay was the general
favourite of the whole association old family that had been long in possession of the manor of "Gold- of wits; but they regarded him worthy, in Devonshire, was born as a play-fellow rather than a partin 1688, at or near Barnstaple, ner, and treated him with more where he was educated by Mr.
fondness than respect. Luck, who taught the school of
Next year he published The that town with good reputation, Shepherd's Week, six English and, a little before he retired from pastorals, in which the images are it, published a volume of Latin drawn from real life, such as it apand English verses.
Under such pears among the rustics in parts a master he was likely to form a
of England remote from London.
In 1713 he brought a comedy taste for poetry. Being born with
called The Wife of Bath upon the out prospect of hereditary riches, he was sent to London
stage, but it received no applause: and placed apprentice with a silk- he printed it, however; and seven
teen years after, having altered it, mercer. The Duchess of Monmouth, re
and, as he thought, adapted it markable for inflexible persever
more to the public taste, he offerance in her demand to be treated
ed it again to the town; but, as a princess, in 1712, took Gay
though he was flushed with the into her service as secretary : by
success of the Beggar's Opera,
had the mortification to see it quitting a shop for such service he might gain leisure, but he cer
In the last tainly advanced little in the boast
of Queen of independence. Of his leisure
Anne's life, Gay was made secrehe made so good use, that he pub
tary to the Earl of Clarendon, amlished next year a poem on Rural
bassador to the court of Hanover. Sports, and inscribed it to Mr.
This was a station that naturally Pope, who was then rising fast gave hopes of kindness from every into reputation. Pope was pleas- party; but the Queen's death put ed with the honour; and when
an end to her favours, and he had
dedicated his Shepherd's Week Goldy orthy does not appear in the Villare. to Boling bioke, which Swift con
sidered as the crime that obstruct- showed it to Congreve ; who, ed all kindness from the House of after reading it over, said, it would Hanover.
either take greatly, or be damned All the pain which he suf- confoundedly. We were all, at the fered from neglect, or, as he first night of it, in great uncertainperhaps terined it the ingratitude ty of the event; till we were very of the court with respect to some much encouraged by over hearing of his pieces, may be supposed to the Duke of Argyle, who sat in the have been driven away by the un- next box to us, say, 'It will do— exampled success of the Beggar's it must do! I see it in the eyes of Opera This play, written in them.' This was a good while ridicule of the musical Italian before the first act was over, and Drama, was first offered to Cibber so gave us ease soon ; for that and his brethren at Drury Lane, Duke (besides his own good taste) and rejected; it being then car- has a particular knack, as any ried to Rich, had the effect, as one now living, in discovering the was ludicrously said, of making taste of the public.
He was Gay rich and Rich gay. quite right in this, as usual; the
Of this lucky piece, as the good nature of the audience apreader cannot but wish to know peared stronger and stronger every the original and progress, we have act, and ended in a clamour of inserted the relation which Spence applause,” gives in Pope's words:
Its reception is thus recorded “Dr. Swift had been observing in the notes to the Dunciad :once to Mr. Gay, what an odd “ This piece was received with pretty sort of a thing a Newgate greater applause than was ever Pastoral might make. Gay was known. Besides being acted in inclined to try such a thing for London sixty-three days without some time; but afterwards thought interruption, and renewed the next it would be better to write a season with equal applause, it comedy on the same plan. This spread into all the great towns of was what gave rise to the Beg- England ; was played in many gar's Opera. He began on it; places to the thirtieth and fortieth and when first he mentioned it to time; at Bath and Bristol fifty, Swift, the doctor did not much like &c. It made its the project. As he carried it on, he Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, showed what he wrote to both of us, where it was performed twentyand we now and then gave a cor- four days successively. The ladies rection, or a word or two of advice; carried about with them the favourbutit was wholly of hisown writing. ite sings of it in fans, and houses
When it was done, neither of us were furnished with it in screens. thought it would succeed. We The fame of it was not confined
to the author only. The person tion was so much favoured, that who acted Polly, till then obscure, though the first part gained him became all at once the favourite of four hundred pounds, near thrice the town; her pictures were en- as much was the profit of the graved, and sold in great numbers ; second. her life was written, books of let- He received yet another recointers and verses to her published, pense for this supposed hardship, and pamphlets made even of her in the affectionate attention of the sayings and jests. furthermore, Duke and Duchess of Queensit drove out of England (for that berry, into whose house he was season) the Italian Opera, which taken, and with whom he passed had carried all before it for ten the remainder of his life. The years.”
* Duke, considering his want of The play, like many others, was economy, undertook the manageplainly written only to divert, ment of his money, and gave it to without any moral purpose, and him as he wanted it. But it is is therefore not likely to do good; supposed that the discountenance nor can it be conceived, without of the court sunk deep into his more speculation than life requires heart, and gave him more disor admits, to be productive of content than the applauses or much evil, Highwaymen and tenderness of his friends could housebreakers seldom frequent the overpower. He soon fell into his play-house, or mingle in any ele- old distemper, an habitual colic, gant diversion ; nor is it possible and languished, though with many for any one to imagine that he intervals of ease and cheerfulness, may rob with safety, because he till a violent fit at last seized him, sees Mackheath reprieved upon and carried him to the grave, as the stage.
Arbuthnot reported, with more This objection, however, or precipitance than he had ever some other rather political than known. He died on the 4th of moral, obtained such prevalence, December, 1732, and was buried that when Gay produced a second in Westminster Abbey. The letpart under the name of Polly, it ter, which brought an account of was prohibited by the Lord his death to Swift, was laid by for Chamberlain : and he was forced some days unopened, because when to recoinpense his repulse by a he received it he was imprest subscription, which is said to with the preconception of some have been so liberally bestowed, misfortune. that what he called oppression After his death was published ended in profit. The * publica- a second volume of Fables, niore
political than the former. His Whether this new drama was the opera of Achilles was acted, and product of judgment or luck, the the profits were given to two praise of it must be given to the widow sisters, who inherited what inventor; and there are many he left, as his lawful heirs; for he writers read with more reverence died without a will, though he had to whom such merit or originality gathered + three thousand pounds. cannot be attributed. There have appeared likewise
His Fables seem to have been a under his name a comedy called favourite work; for, having pubthe Distrest Wife, and the Re- lished one volume, he left another hearsal at Gotham, a piece of hu
behind him. Of this kind of
Fables, the author does not appear The character given him by to have formed any distinct os Pope † is this, that “ he was a
settled notion. Phædrus evidentnatural man, without design, who ly confounds them with Tales, spoke what he thought, and just and Gay both with Tales and
Allegorical Prosopopæias. A as he thought it;" and that “he was of a timid temper, and fearful Pable, or A pologue, such as is of giving offence to the great;"
under consideration, seems to be, which caution, however,
in its genuine state, a narrative in
says which beings irrational and somePope, was of no avail. As a poet, he cannot be rated
times inanimate, abores loquun, high, He was, as I once heard a
tur, non tatum feræ, are, for the female critic remark, “of a lower purpose of moral instruction, order.” He had not in any great human interests and passions. To
feigned to act and speak with degree the mens divinior, the
this description the composidignity of genius. Much, how
tions of Gay do not always conever, must be allowed to the author
form. For a Fable he gives now of a new species of composition,
and then a Tale, or an abstracted though it be not of the highest Allegory; and from some, by kind. We owe to Gay the ballad
whatever name they may be called, opera, a mode of comedy which at
it will be difficult to extract any first was supposed to delight only moral principle. They are, howby its novelty, but has now by the
told with liveliness ; the experience of half a century been versification is smooth ; and the found so well accommodated to the disposition of a popular au- little constrained by the mea
diction, though now and then a dience, that it is likely to keep
, long possession of the stage.
sure or the rhyżne, is generally happy.