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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 nar used no sort of Exercise. No man better bore rative. A blaze first pleases and then tires the ye approaches of his Dissolution (as I ain told) sight.
or with less ostentation yielded up his Being. Of “ Florelio” it is sufficient to say, that it The great modesty wch you know was natural is an occasional pastoral, which implies some to him, and ye great ntempt he bad for all thing neither natural nor artificial, neither sorts of Vanity and Parade, never appeared comic nor serious.
more than in his last moments: He had a conThe 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?
tentment. Of the “ Paraphrase on Isaiah” nothing very As to any Papers left behind him, I dare say favourable can be said. Sublime and solemn they can be but few; for this reason, he never prose gains little by a change to blank verse; wrote out of Vanity, or thought much of the and the paraphrast has deserted his original, Applause of men. I know an instance where by admitting images not Asiatic, at least not he did his utmost to conceal bis own merit that Judaical ;
way; and if we join to this his natural Love of -Returning Peace,
Ease, I fancy we must expect little of this sort; Dove-eyed, and robed in white
at least I hear of none except some few further
remarks on Waller (wch his cautious integrity Of his petty poems -some are very trifling, made him leave an order to be given to Mr. without any thing to be praised, either in the Tonson) and perhaps, tho''tis many years since thought or expression. He is unlucky in his I saw it, a Translation of ye first Book of Opcompetitions; he tells the same idle tale with pian. He had begun a tragedy of Dion, but Congreve, and does not tell it so well. He made small progress in it. translates from Ovid the same epistle as Pope; As to his other Affairs, he died poor, but but I am afraid not with equal happiness. honest, leaving no Debts, or Legacies; except
To examine his performances one by one of a few pds to Mr. Trumbull and my Lady, would be tedious. His translation from Ho- in token of respect, Gratefulness, and mutual mer into blank verse will find few readers, Esteem. while another can be had in rhyme. The piece I shall with pleasure take upon me to draw addressed to Lambarde is no disagreeable speci- this amiable, quiet, deserving, unpretending men of epistolary poetry; and his ode to Lord Christian and Philosophical character, in his Gower was pronounced by Pope the next ode Epitaph. There truth may be spoken in a fewv in the English language to Dryden's “ Cecilia.” words : as for Flourish, & Oratory, & Poetry, Fenton may be justly styled an excellent versi- I leave them to younger and more lively Wrifier and a good poet.
ters, such as love writing for writing sake, and Whatever I have said of Fenton is confirmed wd rather shew their own Fine Parts, yn Reby Pope in a letter, by which he communicated port the valuable ones of any other man. So to Broome an account of his death.
the Elegy I renounce.
I condole with you from my heart, on the To the Revd. Mr. BROOME.
loss of so worthy a man, and a Friend to us At Pulham, near Harlstone
both. Now he is gone, I must tell you be has Nor
done you many a good office, and set your char[By Beccles Bag.]
Suffolke. acter in ye fairest light to some who either misDr. Sir,
took you, or knew you not. I doubt not he I INTENDED to write to you on this melan- has done the same for me. choly subject, the death of Mr. Fenton, before Adieu : Let us love his memory, and profit yrs came; but stay'd to have informed myself by his example. I am very sincerely and you of ye circumstances of it. All I hear
Dr Sir is, that he felt a Gradual Decay, tho' so early
Your affectionate jo Life, and was declining for 5 or 6 months.
& real Servant It was not, as I apprehended, the Gout in his Aug. 29th, 1730.
John Gay, descended from an old family, that, overlooked, drew up a comparison of his own had been long in possession of the manor of compositions with those of Philips, in which he Goldworthy,* in Devonshire, was born in 1688, covertly gave bimself the preference, while he at or near Barnstaple, where he was educated seemed to disown it. Not content with this, be by Mr. Luck, who taught the school of that is supposed to have incited Gay to write “ Tho town with good reputation, and a little before Shepherd's Week;" to show, that if it be nehe retired from it, published a volune of Latin cessary to copy nature with minuteness, rural and English verses. Under such a master he life must be exhibited such as grossness and was likely to form a taste for poetry. Being ignorance have made it. So far the plan was born without prospect of hereditary riches, he reasonable: but the pastorals are introduced by was sent to London in his youth, and placed a proeme, written with such imitation as they apprentice with a silk-mercer.
could obtain of obsolete language, and by conHow long he continued behind the counter, sequence in a style that was never spoken nor or with what degree of softness and dexterity written in any age or in any place. he received and accommodated the ladies, as he But the effect of reality and truth became probably took no delight in telling it, is not conspicuous, even when the intention was to known. The report is, that he was soon weary show them grovelling and degraded. These of either the restraint or servility of his occupa- Pastorals became popular, and were read with tion, and easily persuaded his master to dis- delight, as just representations of rural mancharge him.
Rers and occupations, by those who had no inThe Dutchess of Monmouth, remarkable for terest in the rivalry of the poets, nor knowledge inflexible perseverance in her demand to be of the critical dispute. treated as a princess, in 1712 took Gay into her In 1713 he brought a comedy called “ The service as secretary: by quitting a shop for such Wife of Bath" upon the stage, but it received service he might gain leisure, but he certainly no applause; he printed it, however, and sevenadvanced little in the boast of independence. teen years after, having altered it, and, as he Of his leisure he made so good use, that he thought, adapted it more to the public taste, he published next year a poem on “ Rural Sports," offered it again to the town: but, though he and inscribed it to Mr. Pope, who was then was flushed with the success of the “ Beggar's rising fast into reputation. Pope was pleased Opera,” bad the mortification to see it again with the honour; and, when he became ac- rejected. quainted 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 frie ship 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 honse of Hanover. with more fondness than respect.
He did not, however, omit to improve the Next year be published “ The Shepherd's right which his office had given him to the Week,” six English pastorals, in which the notice of the royal family. On the arrival of images are drawn from real life, such as it ap- the Princess of Wales, he wrote a poem, and pears among the rustics in parts of England re-obtained so much favour, that both the Prince mate from London. Steele, in some papers of and Princess went to see his “ What d'ye call “ The Guardian,” had praised Ambrose Philips, it,” a kind of mock-tragedy, in which the imaas the pastoral writer that yielded only to ges were comic, and the action grave; so that, Theocritus, Virgil, and Spenser. Pope, who. as Pope relates, Mr. Cromwell, who could not Id also published pastorals, not pleased to be hear what was said, was at a loss how to recon.
cile the laughter of the audience with the solem
nity of the scene. * Golilnorthy does not appear in the Villare.-- Of this performance the value certainly is Dr. J. Holdsworthy is probably meaut.-C.
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 inutton 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, But fortune has always been inconstant. he wrote a tragedy called “ The Captives,” Not long afterwards (1717) he endeavoured to which he was invited to read before the Princess entertain the town with “ Three hours after of Wales. When the hour came, he saw the Marriage;' a comedy written, as there is Princess and her ladies all in expectation, and Bufficient reason for believing, by the joint advancing with reverence too great for any other assistance of Pope and Arbuthnot. One pur attention, stumbled at a stool, and falling forpose of it was to bring into contempt Dr. Woodwards, threw down a weighty japan screen. The ward, the Fossilist, a man not really or justly Princess started, the ladies screamed, and poor contemptible. It had the fate which such out-Gay, after all the disturbance, was still to read rages deserve; the scene in which Woodward his play. was directly and apparently ridiculed, by the in The fate of “ The Captives,” which was acttroduction of a mummy and a crocodile, disgusted at Drury Lane in 1723-4, I know not; * but ed the audience, and the performance was driven he now thought himself in favour, and underoff the stage with general condemnation. took (1726) to write a volume of Fables for the
Gay is represented as a man easily incited to improvement of the young Duke of Cumberland. hope, and deeply depressed when his hopes were For this he is said to have been promised a redisappointed. This is not the character of a ward, which he had doubtless magnified with hero; but it may naturally imply something all the wild expectations of indigence and vamore generally welcome, a soft and civil com- nity. panion. Whoever is apt to hope good from Next year the Prince and Princess became others is diligent to please them; but he that King and Queen, and Gay was to be great and believes his powers strong enough to force their happy; but upon the settlement of the houseown way, commonly tries only to please himself. hold he found himself appointed gentleman usher
He had been simple enough to imagine that to the Princess Louisa. By this offer he thought those who laughed at the “ What d'ye ca.. it" himself insulted, and sent a message to the would raise the fortune of its Author; and, find- Queen, that he was too old for the place. There ing nothing done, sunk into dejection. His seem to have been many machinations employed friends endeavoured to divert him. The Earl afterwards in his favour; and diligent court was of Burlington sent him (1716) into Devonshire; paid to Mrs. Howard, afterwards Countess of the year after, Mr. Pulteney took him to Aix; Suffolk, who was much beloved by the King and and in the following year Lord Harcourt invit-Queen, to engage her interest for his promotion; ed him to his seat, where, during his visit, the but solicitations, verses, and flatteries, were two rural lovers were killed with lightning, as thrown away; the lady heard them, and did is particularly told in Pope's Letters.
nothing. Being now generally known, he published All the pain which he suffered from the neg(1720) his poems by subscription, with such suc- lect, or as he perhaps termed it, the ingratitude cess, that he raised a thousand pounds; and of the court, may be supposed to have been driven called his friends to a consultation, what use away by the unexampled success of the “ Begmight be best made of it. Lewis, the steward gar's Opera.” This play, written in ridicule of of Lord Oxford, advised him to intrust it to the the musical Italian drama, was first offered to funds, and live upon the interest ; Arbuthnut Cibber and his brethren at Drury Lane, and rebade him to intrust it to Providence, and live jected; it being then carried to Rich, had the upon the principal; Pope directed him, and was effect, as was ludicrously said, of making Gay seconded by Swift, to purchase an annuity. rich, and Rich gay.
Gay in that disastrous year* had a present Of this lucky piece, as the reader cannot but from young Craggs of some South-sea stock, and wish to know the original and progress, I have once supposed himself to be master of twenty inserted the relation which Spence has given in thousand pounds. His friends persuaded him Pope's words. to sell his share; but he dreamed of dignity and “ Dr. Swist had been observing once to Mr. splendour and could not bear to obstruct his own Gay, what an odd pretty sort of a thing a Newfurtune. He was then importuned to sell as much as would purchase a hundred a year for life,
* It was acted seven nights. The Author's third • Spence
night was by command of their Royal Highnesses.
gate pastoral might make. Gay was inclined to even said, that after the exhibition of the “ Bege try at such a thing for some time; but after- gar's Opera,” the gangs of robbers were evi. wards thought it would be better to write a co-dently multiplied. medy on the same plan. This was what gave Both these decisions are surely exaggerated. rise to the “ Beggar's Opera.” He began on The play, like many others, was plainly writit; and when first he mentioned it to Swift, the ten only to divert, without any moral purpose, Doctor did not much like the project. As he and is therefore not likely to do good ; nor can carried it on, he showed what he wrote to both it be conceived, without more speculation than of us, and we now and then gave a correction, life requires or admits, to be productive of much or a word or two of advice; but it was wholly evil. Highwaymen and housebreakers seldom of his own writing.--When it was done, neither frequent the playhouse, or mingle in any eleof us thought it would succeed. We showed it gant diversion; nor is it possible for any one to to Congreve, who, after reading it over, said, imagine that he may rob with safety, because it would either take greatly, or be damned con
he sees Mackheath reprieved upon the stage. foundedly.-- We were all, at the first night of it, This objection, however, or some other, rain great uncertainty of the event; till we were ther political than moral, obtained such prevery much encouraged by overhearing the Duke valence, that when Gay produced a second part of Argyle, who sat in the next box to us, say, under the name of “ Polly,” it was probibited • It will do-it must do! I see it in the eyes of by the Lord Chamberlain; and he was forced them.' This was a good while before the first to recompense his repulse by a subscription, act was over, and so gave us ease soon; for that which is said to have been so liberally bestowed, Duke (besides his own good taste) has a parti- that what he called oppression ended in profit. cular knack, as any one now living, in discover. The publication was so much favoured, that ing the taste of the public. He was quite right though the first part gained him four hundred in this as usual; the good nature of the audi- pounds, near thrice as much was the profit of ence appeared stronger and stronger every act,
the second. * and ended in a clamour of applause.”
He received yet another recompence for this Its reception is thus recorded in the notes to supposed hardship in the affectionate attention tbe “ 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 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 unlished, 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 fortune. 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 ha 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 highwayınan the hero, and dismissing him at last unpunished. It has been
The character given him by Pope is this : ( not always conform. For a fable he gives now that “he was a natural man, without design, and then a tale, or an abstracted allegory; and who spoke what he thought, and just as he from some, by whatever name they may be thought it;" and that “ he was of a timid called, it will be difficult to extract any moral temper, and fearful of giving offence to the principle. They are, however, told with liveligreat;
;"* which caution, however, says Pope, ness; the versification is smooth; and the dicwas of no avail.
tion, though now and then a little constrained As a poet, he not be rated very high. He by the measure or the rhyme, is generally happy. was, as I once heard a female critic remark,
To “ Trivia” may be allowed all that it “ of a lower order.” He had not in any great claims; it is sprightly, various, and pleasant. degree the mens divinior, the dignity of genius. The subject is of that kind which Gay was by Much however must be allowed to the author nature qualified to adorn; yet some of his deof a new species of composition, though it be not corations may be justly wished away. An of the highest kind. We owe to Gay the ballad honest blacksmith might have done for Patty opera ; a mode of comedy which at first was what is performed by Vulcan. The appearance supposed to delight only by its novelty, but has of Cloacina is nauseous and superfluous; a now by the experience of half a century been shoe-boy could have been produced by the casual found so well accommodated to the disposition cohabitation of mere mortals. Horace's rule is of a popular audience, that it is likely to keep broken in both cases ; there is no dignus vindice long possession of the stage. Whether this new nodus, no difficulty that required any superdrama was the product of judgment or of luck, natural interposition. A patten may be made the praise of it must be given to the inventor; by the hammer of a mortal; and a bastard may and there are many writers read with more be dropped by a human strumpet. On great reverence, to whom such merit of originality occasions, and on small, the mind is repelled by cannot be attributed.
useless and apparent falsehood. His first performance, “ The Rural Sports," Of his little poems the public judgment seems is such as was easily planned and executed; it to be right; they are neither much esteemed is never contemptible nor ever excellent. The nor totally despised. The story of the appari“ Fan" is one of those mythological fictions tion is borrowed from one of the tales of Poggio. which antiquity delivers ready to the hand, but Those that please least are the pieces to which which, like other things that lie open to every Gulliver gave occasion ; for who can much deone's use, are of little value. The attention light in the echo of unnatural fiction? naturally retires from a new tale of Venus, “ Dione" is a counterpart to “ Amynta" and Diana, and Minerva.
• Pastor Fido,” and other trifles of the same His “ Fables” seem to have been a favourite kind, easily imitated, and unworthy of imitation. work; for, having published one volume, he what the Italians call comedies from a happy left another behind him.
Of this kind of fables, conclusion, Gay calls a tragedy from a mournful the authors do not appear to have formed any event; but the style of the Italians and of Gay distinct or settled notion. Phædrus evidently is equally tragical. There is something in the confounds them with tales; and Gay both with poetical arcadia so remote from known reality tales and allegorical prosopopeias. A fable or and speculative possibility, that we can never apologue, such as is now under consideration, support its representation through a long work. seems to be, in its genuine state, a narrative in
A pastoral of a hundred lines may be endured ; which beings irrational, and sometimes inani- but who will hear of sheep and goats, and mate, arbores loquuntur, non tantum feræ, are, myrtle bowers and purling rivulets, through for the purpose of moral instruction, feigned to five acts ? Such scenes please barbarians in the act and speak with human interests and passions. dawn of literature, and children in the dawn To this description the compositions of Gay do of life; but will be for the most part thrown
away, as men grow wise, and nations grow • Spence.
Ür 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 hig}