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My lyre I tune, my voice I raise,
Fair Chloe blush'd: Euphelia frown'd;
I sung, and gaz'd; I play'd and trembled: And Venus to the Loves around
Remark'd, how ill we all dissembled.
THE LADY'S LOOKING-GLASS.
In imitation of a Greek Idyllium.
CELIA and I, the other day,
But, oh the change! the winds grow high; Impending tempests charge the sky;
The lightning flies, the thunder roars, And big waves lash the frighten'd shores. Struck with the horror of the sight,
She turns her head, and wings her flight: And, trembling, vows she'll ne'er again Approach the shore, or view the main.
"Once more, at least, look back," said I, Thyself in that large glass descry: When thou art in good-humor drest; When gentle reason rules thy breast; The Sun upon the calmest sea Appears not half so bright as thee: "Tis then that with delight I rove Upon the boundless depth of Love: I bless my chain; I hand my oar;
Nor think on all I left on shore.
But when vain doubt and groundless fear
Tell me the rising storm is nigh;
"Shipwreck'd, in vain to land I make, While Love and Fate still drive me back : Forc'd to dote on thee thy own way,
I chide thee first, and then obey.
Wretched when from thee, vex'd when nigh,
I with thee, or without thee, die."
JOHN GAY, a well-known poet, was born at or near some South-sea stock presented to him by secretary Barnstaple, in Devonshire, in 1688. After an edu- Craggs, raised his hopes of fortune at one time to a cation at the free-school of Barnstaple, he was sent considerable height; but the loss of the whole of to London, where he was put apprentice to a silk- this stock affected him so deeply as to throw him mercer. A few years of negligent attendance on into a dangerous degree of languor, for his recovery the duties of such a station procured him a separa- from which he made trial of the air of Hampstead. tion by agreement from his master; and he not long He then wrote a tragedy called The Captives," afterwards addicted himself to poetical composition, of which was acted with applause; and in 1726, he which the first-fruits were his " Rural Sports," pub-composed the work by which he is best known, his ished in 1711, and dedicated to Pope, then first rising" Fables," written professedly for the young Duke to fame. In the following year, Gay, who possessed of Cumberland, and dedicated to him. In the manmuch sweetness of disposition, but was indolent and ner of narration there is considerable ease, together improvident, accepted an offer from the Duchess of with much lively and natural painting, but they will Monmouth to reside with her as her secretary. He hardly stand in competition with the French fables had leisure enough in this employment to produce of La Fontaine. Gay naturally expected a handin the same year his poem of "Trivia, or the Art of some reward for his trouble; but upon the accession Walking the Streets of London," which proved one of the most entertaining of its class. It was much admired; and displayed in a striking manner that talent for the description of external objects which peculiarly characterized the author.
of George II. nothing better was offered him than the post of gentleman-usher to the young Princess Louisa, which he regarded rather as an indignity than a favor, and accordingly declined.
The time, however, arrived when he had little In 1714, he made his appearance from the press occasion for the arts of a courtier to acquire a degree on a singular occasion. Pope and Ambrose Philips of public applause greater than he had hitherto exhad a dispute about the respective merits of their perienced. In 1727, his famous "Beggar's Opera" pastorals; upon which, Gay, in order to serve the was acted at Lincolns-inn-fields, after having been cause of his friend, undertook to compose a set of refused at Drury-lane. To the plan of burlesquing pastorals, in which the manners of the country should the Italian operas by songs adapted to the most be exhibited in their natural coarseness, with a view familiar tunes, he added much political satire deof proving, by a sort of caricature, the absurdity of rived from his former disappointments; and the rePhilips's system. The offer was accepted; and sult was a composition unique in its kind, of which Gay, who entitled his work The Shepherd's the success could not with any certainty be foreseen. Week," went through the usual topics of a set of " It will either (said Congreve) take greatly, or be pastorals in a parody, which is often extremely damned confoundedly." Its fate was for some time humorous. But the effect was in one respect dif- in suspense; at length it struck the nerve of public ferent from his intended purpose; for his pictures taste, and received unbounded applause. It ran of rural life were so extremely natural and amusing, through sixty-three successive representations in the and intermixed with circumstances so beautiful and metropolis, and was performed a proportional numtouching, that his pastorals proved the most popular ber of times at all the provincial theatres. Its songs works of the kind in the language. This perform- were all learned by heart, and its actors were raised ance was dedicated to Lord Bolingbroke; and at to the summit of theatric fame. This success, inthis period Gay seems to have obtained a large share deed, seems to indicate a coarseness in the national of the favor of the Tory party then in power. He taste, which could be delighted with the repetition was afterwards nominated secretary to the Earl of of popular ballad-tunes, as well as a fondness for the Clarendon, in his embassy to the court of Hanover; delineation of scenes of vice and vulgarity. Gay but the death of Queen Anne recalled him from his himself was charged with the mischiefs he had thus, situation, and he was advised by his friends not to perhaps unintentionally, occasioned; and if the neglect the opportunity afforded him to ingratiate Beggar's Opera delighted the stage, it encountered himself with the new family. He accordingly wrote more serious censure in graver places than has been a poetical epistle upon the arrival of the Princess of bestowed on almost any other dramatic piece. By Wales, which compliment procured him the honor making a highwayman the hero, he has incurred the of the attendance of the prince and princess at the odium of rendering the character of a freebooter an exhibition of a new dramatic piece. object of popular ambition; and, by furnishing his Gay had now many friends, as well among per-personages with a plea for their dishonesty drawn sons of rank, as among his brother-poets; but little from the universal depravity of mankind, he has was yet done to raise him to a state of independence. been accused of sapping the foundations of all A subscription to a collection of his poems pub- social morality. The author wrote a second part lished in 1720, cleared him a thousand pounds; and of this work, entitled "Polly," but the Lord Cham
berlain refused to suffer it to be performed; and time he employed such intervals of health and spirits though the party in opposition so far encouraged it as he enjoyed, in writing his Acis and Galatea," by their subscriptions that it proved more profitable an opera called Achilles," and a "Serenata." to him than even the first part, it was a very feeble His death took place in 1732, at the early age of performance, and has sunk into total neglect. forty-four, in consequence of an inflammation of Gay, in the latter part of his life, received the the bowels. He was sincerely lamented by his kind patronage of the Duke and Duchess of Queens- friends; and his memory was honored by a monuberry, who took him into their house, and conde- ment in Westminster Abbey, and an epitaph in a scended to manage his pecuniary concerns. At this strain of uncommon sensibility by Pope.
INSCRIBED TO MR. POPE, 1731.*
-Securi prælia ruris
You, who the sweets of rural life have known,
To hear the Syrens warble in thy song.
But I, who ne'er was blest by Fortune's hand,
And sooth'd my harass'd mind with sweet repose,
And deck with rural sports her native strains;
Here blooming Health exerts her gentle reign,
When the fresh Spring in all her state is crown'd
* This poem received many material corrections from His well-arm'd front against his rival aims,
the author, after it was first published.
And by the dint of war his mistress claims:
The careful insect 'midst his works I view,
Or when the plowman leaves the task of day,
Now Night in silent state begins to rise,
Who reins the winds, gives the vast ocean bounds,
As in successive course the seasons roll,
When floating clouds their spongy fleeces drain,
He sits him down, and ties the treacherous hook;
Far up the stream the twisted hair he throws, Which down the murmuring current gently flows; When, if or chance or hunger's powerful sway Directs the roving trout his fatal way,
He greedily sucks in the twining bait,
You must not every worm promiscuous use, Judgment will tell the proper bait to choose: The worm that draws a long immoderate size, The trout abhors, and the rank morsel flies; And, if too small, the naked fraud's in sight, And fear forbids, while hunger does invite. Those baits will best reward the fisher's pains, Whose polish'd tails a shining yellow stains: Cleanse them from filth, to give a tempting gloss, Cherish the sullied reptile race with moss; Amid the verdant bed they twine, they toil, And from their bodies wipe their native soil.
But when the Sun displays his glorious beams, And shallow rivers flow with silver streams, Then the deceit the scaly breed survey, Bask in the sun, and look into the day: You now a more delusive art must try, And tempt their hunger with the curious fly. To frame the little animal, provide All the gay hues that wait on female pride; Let Nature guide thee! sometimes golden wire The shining bellies of the fly require; The peacock's plumes thy tackle must not fail, Nor the dear purchase of the sable's tail. Each gaudy bird some slender tribute brings, And lends the growing insect proper wings; Silks of all colors must their aid impart, And every fur promote the fisher's art. So the gay lady, with excessive care, Borrows the pride of land, of sea, and air; [plays Furs, pearls, and plumes, the glittering thing disDazzles our eyes, and easy hearts betrays.
Mark well the various seasons of the year,
The scaly shoals float by, and, seiz'd with fear,
When a brisk gale against the current blows,