« PreviousContinue »
give a complete picture of the mind of a vulgar but acute cockney. His sentiment is the pleasure of eating and drinking, and his wit and humour are equally gross; but his descriptions are still curious and full of life, and are worth preserving as delineations of the manners of the times.
O Give me, kind Bacchus, thou god of the vine,
Let a fleet from Virginia, well laden with weed,
Look cheerfully round us, and comfort our eyes
A sight that would mend a pale mortal's complexion,
their lectures; And think that on earth there is nothing divine, But a canting old fool and a bag full of coin. What though the dull saint make his standard and
sterling His refuge, his glory, his god, and his darling;
The mortal that drinks is the only brave fellow, Though never so poor he's a king when he's mellow; Grows richer than Creesus with whimsical thinking, And never knows care whilst he follows his drinking.
BORN 1688.-DIED 1732.
Gay's pastorals are said to have taken with the public not as satires on those of Ambrose Phillips, which they were meant to be, but as natural and just imitations of real life and of rural manners. It speaks little, however, for the sagacity of the poet's town readers, if they enjoyed those caricatures in earnest, or imagined any truth of English manners in Cuddy and Cloddipole contending with Amabæan verses for the prize of song, or in Bowzybeus rehearsing the laws of nature. If the allusion to Phillips was overlooked, they could only be relished as travesties of Virgil, for Bowzybeus himself would not be laughable unless we recollected Silenus. Gay’s Trivia seems to have been built
the hint of Swift's description of a city shower. It exhibits a picture of the familiar customs of the metropolis that will continue to become more amusing as the customs grow obsolete.' As a fabulist he has been sometimes hypercritically blamed for present
ing us with allegorical impersonations. The mere naked apologue of Æsop is too simple to interest the human mind, when its fancy and understanding are past the state of childhood or barbarism. La Fontaine dresses the stories which he took froin Æsop and others with such profusion of wit and naiveté, that his manner conceals the insipidity of the matter. “ La sauce vaut mieux que le poisson.” Gay, though not equal to La Fontaine, is at least free from his occasional prolixity; and in one instance (the Court of Death) ventures into allegory with considerable power. Without being an absolute simpleton, like La Fontaine, he possessed a bon hommie of character which forms an agreeable trait of resemblance between the fabulists.
MONDAY; OR THE SQUABBLE
Lobbin Clout, Cuddy, Cloddipole. L. Clout. The younglings, Cuddy, are but just
awake, No thrustles shrill the bramble bush forsake, No chirping lark the welkin sheen invokes, No damsel yet the swelling udder strokes; O’er yonder hill does scant' the dawn appear: Then why does Cuddy leave his cot so rear? Cuddy. Ah, Lobbin Clout! I ween my plight is
guest, For he that loves a stranger is to rest ;
If swains belie not, thou hast prov'd the smart,
Cuddy. Hold, witless Lobbin Clout, I thee advise, Lest blisters sore on thy own tongue arise. Lo, yonder, Cloddipole, the blithsome swain, The wisest lout of all the neighbouring plain! .... From Cloddipole we learn to read the skies, To know when hail will fall, or winds arise. He taught us erst the heifer's tail to view, When stuck aloft, that showers would straight ensue: He first that useful secret did explain, That pricking corns foretold the gathering rain. When swallows fleet soar high, and sport in air, He told us that the welkin would be clear, Let Cloddipole then hear us twain rehearse, And praise his sweetheart in alternate verse. I'll
wager this same oaken staff with thee, That Cloddipole shall give the prize to me. L. Clout. See this tobacco-pouch, that's lin'd with
hair, Made of the skin of sleekest fallow-deer.