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The winds are hushed; the dews distil; and sleep How would the crook beseem thy lily band!
How would my younglings round thee gazing stand! I only, with the prowling wolf, constrained
Ah, witless younglings! gaze not on her eye:
Though blossoms every year the trees adorn,
Spring after spring I wither, nipt with scom : 'Mong rustic routs the chief for wanton game; Nor trow I when this bitter blast will end, Nor could they merry make, till Lobbin came. Or if yon stars will e'er my vows befriend. Who better seen than I in shepherd's arts,
Sleep, sleep, my flock; for happy ye may take To please the lads, and win the lasses' hearts ! Sweet nightly rest, though still your master wake.' How deftly, to mine oaten reed so sweet,
Now to the waning moon the nightingale, Wont they upon the green to shift their feet? In slender warblings, tuned her piteous tale. And, wearied in the dance, how would they yearn The love-sick shepherd, listening, felt relief, Some well-devisëd tale from me to learn ?
Pleased with so sweet a partner in his grief, For many songs and tales of mirth had I,
Till, by degrees, her potes and silent night
To slumbers soft his heavy heart invite.
The Italian opera and English pastorals—both Oh ! quit thy wonted scorn, relentless fair,
sources of fashionable and poetical affectation—were Ere, lingering long, I perish through despair.
driven out of the field at this time by the easy, indoHad Rosalind been mistress of my mind,
lent, good-humoured John GAY, who seems to have Though not so fair, she would have proved more kind. been the most artless and the best-beloved of all the O think, unwitting maid, while yet is time,
Pope and Swift circle of wits and poets. Gay was How flying years impair thy youthful prime! Thy virgin bloom will not for ever stay, And flowers, though left ungathered, will decay : The flowers, anew, returning seasons bring ! But beauty faded has no second spring. My words are wind! She, deaf to all my cries, Takes pleasure in the mischief of her eyes. Like frisking heifer, loose in flowery meads, She gads where'er her roving fancy leads; Yet still from me. Ah me! the tiresome chase! Shy as the fawn, she flies my fond embrace. She flies, indeed, but ever leaves behind, Fly where she will, her likeness in my mind. No cruel purpose in my speed I bear; 'Tis only love; and love why should'st thou fear? What idle fears a maiden breast alarm! Stay, simple girl ; a lover cannot harm ; Two sportive kidlings, both fair-flecked, I rear, Whose shooting horns like tender buds appear: A lambkin too, of spotless fleece, I breed, And teach the fondling from my hand to feed : Nor will I cease betimes to cull the fields Of every dewy sweet the morning yields : From early spring to autumn late shalt thou Receive gay girlonds, blooming o'er thy brow: And when—but why these unavailing pains? The gifts alike, and giver, she disdains ; And now, left heiress of the glen, she'll deem Me, landless lad, unworthy her esteem; Yet was she born, like me, of shepherd-sire, And I may fields and lowing herds acquire. 0! would my gifts but win her wanton heart, Or could I half the warmth I feel impart, How would I wander, every day, to find The choice of wildings, blushing through the rind !
born at Barnstaple, in Devonshire, in 1688. He was For glossy plums how lightsome climb the tree,
of the ancient family of the Le Gays of Oxford and How risk the vengeance of the thrifty bee.
Devonshire; but his father being in reduced circumOr, if thou deign to live a shepherdess,
stances, the poet was put apprentice to a silk-mercer Thou Lobbin's
flock, and Lobbin shall possess ; in the Strand, London. He disliked this mercenary And fair my flock, nor yet uncomely I,
employment, and at length obtained his discharge If liquid fountains flatter not; and why
from his master. In 1711, he published his Rural Should liquid fountains flatter us, yet show The bordering flowers less beauteous than they grow? which we may trace his joy at being emancipated
Sports, a descriptive poem, dedicated to Pope, in O come, my love ! nor think the employment mean,
from the drudgery of a shop :The dams to milk, and little lambkins wean; To drive afield, by morn, the fattening ewes,
But I, who ne'er was blessed by Fortune's hand, Ere the warm sun drink up the coolly dews;
Nor brightened ploughshares in paternal land; While with my pipe, and with my voice, I cheer Long in the noisy town have been immured, Each hour, and through the day detain thine ear. Respired its smoke, and all its cares endured.
Fatigued at last, a calm retreat I chose,
So, when a general bids the martial train
Next year, Gay obtained the appointment of domestic In 1713, Gay brought out a comedy entitled The secretary to the Duchess of Monmouth, on which | Wife of Bath; but it failed of success. His friends he was cordially congratulated by Pope, who took were anxious in his behalf, and next year (July 1714), a warm interest in his fortunes. His next work was he writes with joy to Pope—Since you went out his Shepherd's Week, in Six Pastorals, written to of the town, my Lord Clarendon was appointed throw ridicule on those of Ambrose Philips ; but envoy-extraordinary to Hanover, in the room of containing so much genuine comic humour, and en- Lord Paget; and by making use of those friends, tertaining pictures of country life, that they became which I entirely owe to you, he has accepted me for popular, not as satires, but on account of their in- his secretary.' The poet accordingly quitted his trinsic merits, as affording a prospect of his own situation in the Monmouth family, and accompanied country. In an address to the courteous reader,' Lord Clarendon on his embassy. He seems, how. Gay says, “Thou wilt not find my shepherdesses ever, to have held it only for about two months; for idly piping on oaten reeds, but milking the kine, on the 23d of September of the same year, Pope tying up the sheaves; or, if the hogs are astray, welcomes him to his native soil, and counsels him, driving them to their styes. My shepherd gathereth now that the queen was dead, to write something none other nosegays but what are the growth of our on the king, or prince, or princess. Gay was an own fields; he sleepeth not under myrtle shades, anxious expectant of court favour, and he complied but under a hedge; nor doth he vigilantly defend with Pope's request. He wrote a poem on the prinhis flock from wolves, because there are none.' This cess, and the royal family went to see his play of matter-of-fact view of rural life has been admirably What D'ye Call It? produced shortly after his return followed by Crabbe, with a moral aim and effect to from Hanover, in 1714. The piece was eminently which Gay never aspired. About this time the successful; and Gay was stimulated to another drapoet also produced his Trivia, or the Art of Walking matic attempt of a similar nature, entitled Three the Streets of London, and The Fan, a poem in three Hours After Marriage. Some personal satire and books. The former of these is in the mock-heroic indecent dialogues in this piece, together with the style, in which he was assisted by Swift, and gives improbability of the plot, sealed its fate with the a graphic account of the dangers and impediments public. It soon fell into disgrace; and its author then encountered in traversing the narrow, crowded, being afraid that Pope and Arbuthnot would suffer ill-lighted, and vice-infested thoroughfares of the injury from their supposed connexion with it, took metropolis. His paintings of city life are in the all the shame on himself.' Gay was silent and Dutch style, low and familiar, but correctly and dejected for some time; but in 1720 he published forcibly drawn. The following sketch of the fre. his poems by subscription, and realised a sum of quenters of book-stalls in the streets may still be £1000. He received, also, a present of South Sea stock, Verified :
and was supposed to be worth £20,000, all of which
he lost by the explosion of that famous delusion. Volumes on sheltered stalls expanded lie,
This serious calamity to one fond of finery in dress And various science lures the learned eve;
and living only prompted to farther literary exerThe bending shelves with ponderous scholiasts groan, tion. In 1724, Gay brought out another drama, And deep divines, to modern shops unknown; The Captives, which was acted with moderate sucHere, like the bee, that on industrious wing
cess; and in 1726 he wrote a volume of fables, Collects the various odours of the spring,
designed for the special improvement of the Duke Walkers at leisure learning's flowers may spoil, of Cumberland, who certainly did not learn mercy Nor watch the wasting of the midnight oil;
or humanity from them. The accession of the May morals snatch from Plutarch's tattered page, prince and princess to the throne seemed to augur A mildewed Bacon, or Statgyra's sage:
well for the fortunes of Gay; but he was only Here sauntering 'prentices o'er Otway weep,
offered the situation of gentleman usher to one of O'er Congreve smile, or over D’Urfey sleep;
the young princesses, and considering this an insult, Pleased sempstresses the Lock's famed Rape unfold; he rejected it. His genius proved his best patron. And Squirts * read Garth till apozems grow cold. In 1726, Swift came to England, and resided two
months with Pope at Twickenham. Among other The poet gives a lively and picturesque account plans, the dean of St Patrick suggested to Gay the of the great frost in London, when a fair was held idea of a Newgate pastoral, in which the characon the river Thames :
ters should be thieves and highwaymen, and the
Beggar's Opera was the result. When finished, the O, roving muse! recall that wondrous year When winter reigned in bleak Britannia's air;
two friends were doubtful of the success of the piece,
but it was received with unbounded applause. The When hoary Thames, with frosted oziers crowned, Was three long moons in icy fetters bound.
songs and music aided greatly its popularity, and The waterman, forlorn, along the shore,
there was also the recommendation of political satire; Pensive reclines upon his useless oar:
for the quarrel between Peachum and Lockit was See harnessed steeds desert the stony town,
an allusion to a personal collision between Walpole And wander roads unstable not their own;
and his colleague, Lord Townsend. The spirit and Wheels o’er the hardened water smoothly glide,
variety of the piece, in which song and sentiment Aud raze with whitened tracks the slippery tide;
are so happily intermixed with vice and roguery, Here the fat cook piles high the blazing fire,
still render the • Biggar's Opera' a favourite with And scarce the spit can turn the steer entire;
the public; but as Gay has succeeded in making Booths sudden hide the Thames, long streets appear,
highwaymen agreeable, and even attractive, it canAnd numerous games proclaim the crowded fair. not be commended for its moral tendency. Of this
we suspect the Epicurean author thought little. The * Squirt is the name of an apothecary's boy in Garth's ‘ Dis- opera had a run of sixty-three nights, and became pensary.'
the rage of town and country. Its success had also the effect of giving rise to the English opora, a spe- That Bowzy beus who could sweetly sing, cies of light comedy enlivened by songs and music, Or with the rosined bow torinent the string; which for a time supplanted the Italian opera, with That Bowzy beus who, with fingers' speed, all its exotic and elaborate graces. Gay tried a Could call soft warblings from the breathing reed; sequel to the Beggar's Opera,' under the title of That Bowzy beus who, with jocund tongue, Polly; but as it was supposed to contain sarcasms Ballads, and roundelays, and catches sung: on the court, the lord chamberlain prohibited its They loudly laugh to see the damsel's fright, representation. The poet had recourse to publica- And in disport surround the drunken wight. tion; and such was the zeal of his friends, and the Ah, Bowzybee, why didst thou stay so long? effect of party spirit, that while the ‘Beggar's Opera' The mugs were large, the drink was wondrous strong! realised for him only about £400, · Polly' produced Thou should'st have left the fair before 'twas night, a profit of £1100 or £1200. The Duchess of Marl. But thou sat'st toping till the morning light. borough gave £100 as her subscription for a copy.
Cicely, brisk maid, steps forth before the rout, Gay liad now amassed £3000 by his writings, which And kissed with smacking lip the snoring lout he resolved to keep 'entire and sacred.' He was at (For custom says, “Whoe'er this venture prores, the same time received into the house of his kind For such a kiss demands a pair of gloves'). patrons the Duke and Duchess of Queensberry, with By her example Dorcas bolder grows, whom he spent the remainder of his life. His only And plays a tickling straw within his nose. literary occupation was composing additional fables, He rubs his nostril, and in wonted joke and corresponding occasionally with Pope and The sneering strains with stammering speech bespoke: Swift. A sudden attack of inflammatory fever To you, my lads, I'll sing my carols o'er; hurried him out of life in three days. He died on
As for the maids, I've something else in store. the 4th of December 1732. Pope's letter to Swift
No sooner 'gan he raise his tuneful song, announcing the event was indorsed by the latter : But lads and lasses round about him throng. On my dear friend Mr Gay's death. Received, Not ballad-singer placed above the crowd December 15th, but not read till the 20th, by an
Sings with a note so shrilling sweet and loud ; impulse foreboding some misfortune.' The friend - Nor parish-clerk, who calls the psalm so clear, ship of these eminent men seems to have been sin- | Like Bowzybeus soothes the attentive ear. cere and tender; and nothing in the life of Swift is
Of nature's laws his carols first begun, more touching or honourable to his memory, than why the grave owl can never face the sun. those passages in his letters where the recollection For owls, as swains observe, detest the light, of Gay melted his haughty stoicism, and awakened And only_sing and seek their prey hy night. his deep though unavailing sorrow. Pope, always And how the closing coleworts upwards grow;
llow turnips hide their swelling heads below, more affectionate, was equally grieved by the loss of How Will-a-wisp misleads night-faring clowns him whom he has characterised as
O’er hills, and sinking bogs, and pathless downs.
And of the glow-worm's light that gilds his tail. Gay was buried in Westminster abbey, where a
He sung where woodcocks in the summer feed, handsome monument was erected to his memory by And in what climates they renew their breed the Duke and Duchess of Queensberry. The works (Some think to northern coasts their flight they tend, of this easy and loveable son of the muses have lost Or to the moon in midnight hours ascend); much of their popularity. He has the licentiousness, And how the drowsy bat and dormouse sleep;
Where swallows in the winter's scason keep, without the elegance, of Prior. His fables are still
, How nature does the puppy's eyelid close, however, the best we possess; and if they have not the nationality or rich humour and arcliness of Till the bright sun has nine times set and rose La Fontaine's, the subjects of them are light and That puppies still nine rolling suns are blind).
(For huntsmen by their long experience find, pleasing, and the versification always smooth and correct.' The Hare with Muny Friends is doubtless For still new fairs before his eyes arose.
Now he goes on, and sings of fairs and shows, drawn from Gay's own experience. In the Court of How pedlers' stalls with glittering toys are laid, Death, he aims at a higher order of poetry, and mar- The various fairings of the country maid. shals his diseases dire' with a strong and gloomy Long silken laces hang upon the twine, power. His song of Black-Eyed Susan, and the And rows of pins and amber bracelets shine; ballad beginning • Twas when the seas were roaring,' Ilow the tight lass knives, combs, and scissors spies, are full of characteristic tenderness and lyrical me
And looks on thimbles with desiring eyes. lody. The latter is said by Cowper to have been Of lotteries next with tuneful note he told, the joint production of Arbuthnot, Swift, and Gay. Where silver spoons are won, and rings of gold.
The lads and lasses trudge the street along, (The Country Ballad Singer.]
And all the fair is crowded in his song. (From The Shepherd's Week.]
The mountebank now treads the stage, and sells
His pills, his balsams, and his ague-spells; Sublimer strains, O rustic muse! prepare ;
Now o'er and o'er the nimble tumbler springs, Forget awhile the barn and dairy's care;
And on the rope the venturous maiden swings; Thy hounely voice to loftier numbers raise,
Jack Pudding, in his party-coloured jacket, The drunkard's flights require sonorous lays; Tosses the glove, and jokes at every packet. With Bowzybeus' songs exalt thy verse,
Of raree-shows he sung, and Punch's feats, While rocks and woods the various notes rehearse.
Of pockets picked in crowds, and various cheats. 'Twas in the season when the reapers' toil
Then sad he sung The Children in the Wood,' Of the ripe harvest 'gan to rid the soil ;
(Ah, barbarous uncle, stained with infant blood !) Wide through the field was seen a goodly rout, How blackberries they plucked in deserts wild, Clean damsels bound the gathered sheaves about; And fearless at the glittering faulchion smiled; The lads with sharpened hook and sweating brow Their little corpse the robin-red breasts found, Cut down the labours of the winter plough.
And strewed with pious bill the leaves around. When fast asleep they Bowzy beus spied,
(Ah, gentle birds ! if this verse lasts so long, His hat and oaken staff lay close beside ;
Your names shall live for ever in my song.)
For ‘Buxom Joan' he sung the doubtful strife, Now in thy trunk thy D'Oily habit fold, How the sly sailor made the maid a wife.
The silken drugget ill can fence the cold; To louder strains he raised his voice, to tell The frieze's spongy nap is soaked with rain, What woful wars in Chevy Chase' befell,
And showers soon drench the camblet's cockled grain; When 'Percy drove the deer with hound and horn; True Witney! broadcloth, with its shag unshorn, Wars to be wept by children yet unborn!'
Unpierced is in the lasting tempest worn : Ah, Witherington! more years thy life had crowned, Be this the horseman's fence, for who would wear If thou hadst never heard the horn or hound ! Amid the town the spoils of Russia's bear? Yet shall the squire, who fought on bloody stumps, Within the roquelaure's clasp thy hands are pent, By future bards be wailed in doleful dumps.
Hands, that, stretched forth, invading harms prevent. All in the land of Essex' next he chaunts, Let the looped bavaroy the fop embrace, How to sleek mares starch Quakers turn gallants : Or his deep cloak bespattered o'er with lace. How the grave brother stood on bank so green- That garment best the winter's rage defends, Happy for him if mares had never been !
Whose ample form without one plait depends ; Then he was seized with a religious qualm, By various names? in various counties known, And on a sudden sung the hundredth psalm.
Yet held in all the true surtout alone; He sung of. Taffy Welsh' and 'Sawney Scot,' Be thine of kersey firm, though small the cost, * Lilly-bullero' and the Irish Trot.'
Then brave unwet the rain, unchilled the frost. Why should I tell of Bateman' or of Shore,
If the strong cane support thy walking hand, Or 'Wantley's Dragon' slain by valiant Moore, Chairmen no longer shall the wall command; “The Bower of Rosamond,' or Robin Hood,'
Even sturdy carmen shall thy nod obey,
His carols ceased : the listening maids and swains This shall direct thy cautious tread aright,
Let beaux their canes, with amber tipt, produce; Swears kisses sweet should well reward his song. Be theirs for empty show, but thine for use. The damsels laughing fly; the giddy clown
In gilded chariots while they loll at ease,
And lazily insure a life's disease;
To court, to White’s, assemblies, or the play;
Rosy-complexioned Health thy steps attends, [Walking the Streets of London.]
And exercise thy lasting youth defends.
Imprudent men Heaven's choicest gifts profane: [From • Trivia.)
Thus some beneath their arm support the cane; Through winter streets to steer your course aright, The dirty point oft checks the careless pace, How to walk clean by day, and safe by night; And miry spots the clean cravat disgrace. How jostling crowds with prudence to decline, Oh! may I never such misfortune meet! When to assert the wall, and when resign,
May no such vicious walkers crowd the street ! I sing ; thou, Trivia, goddess, aid my song,
May Providence o'ershade me with her wings,
Sweet woman is like the fair flower in its lustre, To pave thy realm, and smooth the broken ways,
Which in the garden enamels the ground; Earth from her womb a flinty tribute pays;
Near it the bees, in play, flutter and cluster, For thee the sturdy pavior thumps the ground,
And gaudy butterflies frolic around. Whilst every stroke his labouring lungs resound; But when once plucked, 'tis no longer alluring, For thee the scavenger bids kennels glide
To Covent-Garden 'tis sent (as yet sweet), Within their bounds, and heaps of dirt subside. There fades, and shrinks, and grows past all enduring, My youthful bosom burns with thirst of fame,
Rots, stinks, and dies, and is trod under feet. From the great theme to build a glorious name; To tread in paths to ancient bards unknown,
[The Poet and the Rose.] And bind my temples with a civic crown:
[From the ‘Fables."] But more my country's love demands my lays;
I hate the man who builds his name
On ruins of another's fame:
Thus prudes, by characters o erthrown, When late their miry sides stage-coaches show,
Imagine that they raise their own; And their stiff horses through the town move slow;
Thus scribblers, covetous of praise, When all the Mall in leafy ruin lies,
Think slander can transplant the bays. And damsels first renew their oyster cries;
Beauties and bards have equal pride,
With both all rivals are decried : Then let the prudent walker shoes provide,
Who praises Lesbia's eyes and feature, Not of the Spanish or Morocco hide;
Must call her sister 'awkward creature;
For the kind flattery's sure to charm,
When we some other nymph disarm.
As in the cool of early day Should the big last extend the shoe too wide,
A poet sought the sweets of May, Each stone will wrench the unwary step aside;
The garden's fragrant breath ascends, The sudden turn may stretch the swelling vein,
And every stalk with odour bends; Thy cracking joint unhinge, or ankle sprain;
A rose he plucked, he gazed, admired, And, when too short the modish shoes are worn,
Thus singing, as the muse inspired You'll judge the seasons by your shooting corn.
1 A town in Oxfordshire. Nor should it prove thy less important care,
? A Joseph, wrap-rascal, &c. To choose a proper coat for winter's wear.
8 A chocolate-house in St James's Street
He shares their unirth, their social joys,
'Go, Rose, my Chloe's bosom grace;
How happy should I prove, Might I supply that envied place
With never-fading love!
More fragrant roses there:
With envy and despair!
*Spare your comparisons,' replied An angry Rose, who grew beside.
Of all mankind, you should not flout us;
The Court of Death.
The Hare and Many Friends.
A Hare, who in a civil way,
As forth she went at early dawn,
She next the stately Bull implored,
The Goat remarked her pulse was high,
The Sheep was feeble, and complained His sides a load of wool sustained : Said he was slow, confessed his fears, For hounds eat sheep as well as hares.
She now the trotting Calf addressed, To save from death a friend distressed. Shall I, says he, of tender age, In this important care engage ? Older and abler passed you by; How strong are those, how weak am I! Should I presume to bear you hence, Those friends of mine may take offence. Excuse me, then. You know my heart; But dearest friends, alas ! must part. How shall we all lament! Adieu ! For, see, the hounds are just in view!
Death, on a solemn night of state,
Fever, with burning heat possessed,
Next Gout appears with limping pace,
A haggard spectre from the crew
Stone urged his overgrowing force;
Plague represents his rapid power, Who thinned a nation in an hour.
All spoke their claim, and hoped the wand. Now expectation hushed the band, When thus the monarch from the throne : Merit was ever modest known. What, no physician speak his right! None here! but fees their toils requite. Let then Intemperance take the wand, Who fills with gold their zealous hand. You, Fever, Gout, and all the rest (Whom wary men as foes detest), Forego your claim. No more pretend; Intemperance is esteemed a friend;
The Lion, the Tiger, and the Traveller. Accept, young prince, the moral lay, And in these tales mankind survey;