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inflexible perseverance in her demand to be Princess of Wales, he wrote a poem, and obtreated as a princess, in 1712 took Gay into her tained so much favour, that both the Prince and service as secretary: by quitting a shop for such Princess went to see his " What d’ye call it," service he might gain leisure, but he certainly a kind mock tragedy, in which the images advanced little in the boast of independence. were comic, and the action grave: so that, as Of his leisure he made so good use, that he Pope relates, Mr. Cromwell, who could not hear published next year a poem on “Rural Sports," what was said, was at a loss how to reconcile and inscribed it to Mr. Pope, who was then the laughter of the audience with the solemnity rising fast into reputation. Pope was pleased of the scene. with the honour ; and, when he became ac Of this performance the value certainly is but quainted with Gay, found such attractions in his little ; but it was one of the lucky trifles that manners and conversation, that he seems to have give pleasure by novelty, and was so much fareceived him into his inmost confidence; and avoured by the audience, that envy appeared friendship was formed between them which last- against it in the form of criticism; and Griffin, ed to their separation by death, without any a player, in conjunction with Mr. Theobald, a known abatement on either part. Gay was the man afterwards more remarkable, produced a general favourite of the whole association of pamphlet called "The Key to the What d'ye wits; but they regarded him as a playfellow call it ;” which, says Gay, "calls me a blockrather than a partner, and treated him with more head, and Mr. Pope a knave." fondness than respect.
But fortune has always been inconstant. Next year he published “The Shepherd's Not long afterwards (1717) he endeavoured to Week,” six English pastorals, in which the entertain the town with “Three hours after images are drawn from real life, such as it ap- Marriage;" a comedy written, as there is sufpears among the rustics in parts of England re- ficient reason for believing, by the joint assistmote from London. Steele, in some papers of ance of Pope and Arbuthnot. One purpose of “The Guardian," had praised Ambrose Philips, it was to bring into contempt Dr. Woodward, as the pastoral writer that yielded only to Theo- the Fossilist, a man not really or justly concritus, Virgil, and Spenser. Pope, who had also temptible. It had the fate which such outpublished pastorals, not pleased to be overlooked, rages deserve; the scene in which Woodward drew up a comparison of his own compositions was directly and apparently ridiculed, by the inwith those of Philips, in which he covertly gave troduction of a mummy and a crocodile, dishimself the preference, while he seemed to dis- gusted the audience, and the performance was own it. Not content with this, he is supposed driven off the stage with general condemnation. to have incited Gay to write “The Shepherd's Gay is represented as a man easily incited to Week ;" to show, that if it be necessary to copy hope, and deeply depressed when his hopes were nature with minuteness, rural life must be exhi- disappointed." This is not the character of a bited such as grossness and ignorance have made hero ; but it may naturally imply something it. So far the plan was reasonable: but the pas- more generally welcome, a soft and civil comtorals are introduced by a proeme, written with panion. Whoever is apt to hope good from such imitation as they could obtain of obsolete others is diligent to please them; but he that language, and by consequence in a style that believes his powers strong enough to force their was never spoken nor written in any age or in own way, commonly tries only to please himany place.
self. But the effect of reality and truth became con He had been simple enough to imagine that spicuous, even when the intention was to show those who laughed at the “What d'ye call it” them grovelling and degraded. These Pastorals would raise the fortune of its Author; and, became popular, and were read with delight, as finding nothing done, sunk into dejection. His just representations of rural manners and occu- friends endeavoured to divert him. The Earl of pations, by those who had no interest in the ri- Burlington sent him (1716) into Devonshire; valry of the poets, nor knowledge of the critical the year after, Mr. Pulteney took him to Aix; dispute.
and in the following year Lord Harcourt invited In 1713 he brought a comedy called “The him to his seat, where, during his visit, the two Wife of Bath" upon the stage, but it received rural lovers were killed with lightning, as is no applause; he printed it, however, and seven- particularly told in Pope's Letters, teen years after, having altered it, and, as he Being now generally known, he published thought, adapted it more to the public taste, he (1720) his poems by subscription, with such offered it again to the town: but, though he was success, that he raised a thousand pounds; and fushed with the success of the “Beggars' Ope- called his friends to a consultation, what use ra,” had the mortification to see it again re- might he best made of it. Lewis, ihe steward jected.
of Lord Oxford, advised him to intrust it to the In the last year of Queen Anne's life, Gay funds, and live upon the interest ; Arbuthnot was made secretary to the Earl of Clarendon, bade him to intrust it to Providence, and live ambassador to the court of Hanover. This was upon the principal; Pope directed him, and was a station that naturally gave him hopes of kind seconded by Swift, to purchase an annuity. ness from every party ; but the Queen's death Gay in that disastrous year * had a present put an end to her favours, and he had dedicated from young Craggs of some South-sea stock, his “ Shepherd's Week” to Bolingbroke, which and once supposed himself to be master of Swift considered as the crime that obstructed all twenty thousand pounds. His friends persuaded kindness from the house of Hanover.
him to sell his share; but he dreamed of dignity He did not, however, omit to improve the and splendour, and could not bear to obstruct right which his office had given him to the notice of the royal family. On the arrival of the
his own fortune. He was then importuned to of us, and we now and then gave a correction, sell as much as would purchase a hundred a or a word or two of advice; but it was wholly year for life, “which,” says Fenton,“ will make of his own writing.-When it was done, neiyou sure of a clean shirt and a shoulder of mut-ther of us thought it would succeed. We ton every day.” This counsel was rejected; showed it to Congreve, who, after reading it the profit and principal were lost, and Gay sunk over, said, it would either take greatly, or be under the calamity so low that his life became damned confoundedly. We were all, at the in danger.
first night of it, in great uncertainty of the event; By the care of his friends, among whom Pope till we were very much encouraged by overhearappears to have shown particular tenderness, ing the Duke of Argyle, who sat in the next box his health was restored ; and, returning to his to us, say, 'It will do-it must do! I see it in studies, he wrote a tragedy called “The Cap- the eyes of them. This was a good while betives,” which he was invited to read before the fore the first act was over, and so gave us ease Princess of Wales. When the hour came, he soon; for that duke (besides his own good saw the Princess and her ladies all in expecta- taste) has a particular knack, as any one now tion, and advancing with reverence too great living, in discovering the taste of the public. for any other attention, stumbled at a stool, and He was quite right in this as usual ; the good falling forwards, threw down a weighty ja- | nature of the audience appeared stronger and pan screen. The Princess started, the ladies stronger every act, and ended in a clamour of screamed, and poor Gay, after all the distur- applause." bance, was still to read his play.
İts reception is thus recorded in the notes to The fate of“ 'The Captives," which was acted the “Dunciad:” at Drury Lane in 1723-4, I know not;* but he “This piece was received with greater apnow thought himself in favour, and undertook plause than was ever known. Besides being (1726) to write a volume of Fables for the im- acted in London sixty-three days without interprovement of the young Duke of Cumberland. ruption, and renewed the next season with equal For this he is said to have been promised a re- applause, it spread into all the great towns of ward, which he had doubtless magnified with England; was played in many places to the all the wild expectations of indigence and va- thirtieth and fortieth time; at Bath and Bristol nity.
tifty, &c. It made its progress into Wales, Next year the Prince and Princess became Scotland, and Ireland, where it was performed King and Queen, and Gay was to be great and twenty-four days successively. The ladies carhappy; but upon the setilement of the house- ried about with them the favourite songs of it hold he found himself appointed gentleman. in fans, and houses were furnished with it in usher to the Princess Louisa. By this offer he screens. The fame of it was not confined to thought himself insulted, and sent a message to the Author only. The person who acted Polly, the Queen, that he was too old for the place. till then obscure, became all at once the favourThere seem to have been many inachinations ite of the town; her pictures were engraved, and employed afterwards in his favour; and diligent sold in great numbers; her life written, books court was paid to Mrs. Howard, afterwards of letters and verses to her published, and Countess of Suffolk, who was much beloved by pamphlets made even of her sayings and jests. the King and Queen, to engage her interest for Furthermore, it drove out of England (for that his promotion; but solicitations, verses, and season, the Italian opera, which had carried all flatteries, were thrown away; the lady heard before it for ten years.” them, and did nothing.
Of this performance, when it was printed, the All the pain which he suffered from the ne- reception was different, according to the differglect, or as he perhaps termed it, the ingratitude ent opinion of its readers. Swift commended of the court, may be supposed to have been it for the excellence of its morality, as a piece driven away by the unexampled success of the that“ placed all kinds of vice in the strongest “Beggars' Opera.” This play, written in ridi- and most odious light;" but others, and among cule of the musical Italian drama, was first of them Dr. Herring, afterwards Archbishop of fered to Cibber and his brethren at Drury Lane, Canterbury, censured it as giving encourageand rejected ; it being then carried to Rich, had ment not only to vice, but to crimes, by making the effect, as was ludicrously said, of making a highwayman the hero, and dismissing him at Gay rich, and Rich gay.
last unpunished. It has been even said, that Of this lucky piece, as the reader cannot but after the exhibition of the “Beggars' Opera," wish to know the original and progress, I have the gangs of robbers were evidently multiplied. inserted the relation which Spence has given in
Both these decisions are surely exaggerated. Pope's words.
The play, like many others, was plainly written "Dr. Swift had been observing once to Mr. only to divert, without any moral purpose, and Gay, what an odd pretty sort of a thing a New- is therefore not likely to do good; nor can it be gate pastoral might make. Gay was inclined conceived, without more speculation than life to try at such a thing for some time; but after requires or admits, to be productive of much wards thought it would be better to write a co-evil. Highwaymen and housebreakers seldom medy on the same plan. This was what gave frequent the playhouse, or mingle in any elegant rise to the ‘Beggars' Opera.' He began on it; diversion; nor is it possible for any one to and when first he mentioned it to Swift, the imagine that he may rob with safety, because Doctor did not much like the project. As he he sees Mackheath reprieved upon the stage. carried it on, he showed what he wrote to both
This objection, however, or some other, ra
ther political than moral, obtained such preva* It was acted seven nights. The Author's third night lence, that when Gay produced a second part was by command of their Royal Highnesses. -R. under the name of “Polly,” it was prohibited
by the Lord Chamberlain; and he was forced
“Fan” is one of those mythological fictions to recompense his repulse by a subscription, which antiquity delivers ready to the hand, but which is said to have been so liberally bestowed, which, like other things that lie open to every that what he called oppression ended in profit. one's use, are of little value. The attention naThe publication was so much favoured, that turally retires from a new tale of Venus, Diana, though the first part gained him four hundred and Minerva. pounds; near thrice as much was the profit of His “Fables" seem to have been a favourite the second.*
work; for, having published one volume, he He received yet another recompense for this left another behind him. Of this kind of falles, supposed hardship in the affectionate attention the authors do not appear to have formed any of the Duke and Dutchess of Queensberry, into distinct or settled notion. Phædrus evidently whose house he was taken, and with whom he confounds them with tales; and Gay both with passed the remaining part of his life. The Duke, tales and allegorical prosopopæias. “A fable, or considering his want of economy, undertook the apologue, such as is now under consideration, management of his money, and gave it to him seems to be in its genuine state, a narrative in as he wanted it.* But it is supposed that the which beings irrational, and sometimes inanidiscountenance of the court sunk deep into his mate, arbores loquuntur, non tantum feræ, are, for heart, and gave him more discontent than the the purpose of moral instruction, feigned to act applauses or tenderness of his friends could and speak with human interests and passions. overpower. He soon fell into his old distemper, To this description the compositions of Gay do an habitual colic, and languished, though with not always conform. For a fable he gives now many intervals of ease and cheerfulness, till a and then a tale, or an abstracted allegory; and violent fit at last seized him, and hurried him to from some, by whatever name they may be the grave, as Arbuthnot reported, with more called, it will be difficult to extract any moral precipitance than he had ever known. He died principle. They are, however, told with livelion the 4th of December, 1732, and was buried ness: the versification is smooth; and the dicin Westminster Abbey. The letter which tion, though now and then a little constrained brought an account of his death to Swift was by the measure or the rhyme, is generally happy. laid by for some days unopened, because when To “ Trivia ” may be allowed all that it he received it he was impressed with the precon- claims; it is sprightiy, various, and pleasant. ception of some misfortune.
The subject is of that kind which Gay was by After his death, was published a second vo nature qualified to adorn; yet some of his des lume of “Fables," more political than the for-corations may be justly wished away. An mer. His opera of “Achilles” was acted, and honest blacksmith might have done for Patty the profits were given to two widow sisters, what is performed by Vulcan. The appearance who inherited what he left, as his lawful heirs ; l of Cloacina is nauseous and superfluous; a for he died without a will, though he had ga- shoe-boy could have been produced by tbe casual thered* three thousand pounds. There have cohabitation of mere mortals. Horace's rule is appeared likewise under his name a comedy broken in both cases; there is no dignus vindice called “The Distressed Wife,” and “The Re- nodus, no difficulty that required any superhearsal at Gotham,” a piece of humour. natural interposition. A patien may be made
The character given him by Pope is this : that by the hammer of a mortal; and a bastard may "he was a natural man, without design, who be dropped by a human strumpet. On great spoke what he thought, and just as he thought occasions, and on small, the mind is repelled by it ;” and that “ he was of a timid temper, and useless and apparent falsehood. fearful of giving offence to the great ;"* which Of his little poems the public judgment seems caution, however, says Pope, was of no avail. to be right; they are neither much esteemed
As a poet, he cannot be rated very high. He nor totally despised. The story of the appariwas, as I once heard a female critic remark, tion is borrowed from one of the tales of Poggio.
of a lower order.". He had not in any great Those that please least are the pieces to which degree the mens divinior, the dignity of genius. Gulliver gave occasion; for who can much Much however must be allowed to the author delight in the echo of unnatural fiction ? of a new species of composition, though it be not “ Dione” is a counterpart to “ Amynta” and of the highest kind. We owe to Gay the ballad “Pastor Fido," and other trifles of the same opera ; a mode of comedy which at first was kind, easily imitated, and unworthy of imitation. supposed to delight only by its novelty, but has What the Italians call comedies from a happy now by the experience of half a century been conclusion, Gay calls a tragedy from a mournful found so well accommodated to the disposition event; but the style of the Italians and of Gay of a popular audience, that it is likely to keep is equally tragical. There is something in the long possession of the stage. Whether this new poetical arcadia so remote from known reality drama was the product of judgment or of luck, and speculative possibility, that we can never the praise of it must be given to the inventor; support its representation through a long work. and there are many writers read with more reve- A pastoral of a hundred lines may be endured ; rence, to whom such merit of originality cannot but who will hear of sheep and goats, and be attributed.
myrtle bowers and purling rivulets, through His first performance, “The Rural Sports,” five acts? Such scenes please barbarians in the is such as was easily planned and executed; it dawn of literature, and children in the dawn is never contemptible nor ever excellent. The of life; but will be for the most part thrown
away, as men grow wise, and nations grow • Spence.
OF GEORGE GRANVILLE, or, as others write when every man who has the least sense of Greenville or Grenville, afterwards Lord Lands- honour should be preparing for the field. down, of Bideford in the county of Devon, less “You may remember, sir, with what relucis known than his name and high rank might tance I submitted to your commands upon Mon. give reason to expect. He was born about mouth's rebellion, when no importunity could 1667, the son of Bernard Greenville, who was prevail with you to permit me to leave the acaentrusted by Monk with the most private trans- demy: I was too young to be hazarded; but, actions of the Restoration, and the grandson of give me leave to say, it is glorious at any age to Sir Bevil Greenville, who died in the King's die for one's country; and the sooner the nobler cause, at the battle of Landsdown.
the sacrifice. His early education was superintended by Sir “I am now older by three years. My uncle William Ellis ; and his progress was such, that Bathe was not so old when he was left among before the age of twelve he was sent to Cam- the slain at the battle of Newbury; nor yet bridge,* where he pronounced a copy of his own yourself, sir, when you made your escape from verses to the Princess Mary d'Este of Modena, your tutor's, to join your brother at the defence then Dutchess of York, when she visited the of Scilly. University.
“ The same cause has now come round about At the accession of King James, being now at again. The King has been misled ; let those eighteen, he again exerted his poetical powers, who have misled him be answerable for it. and addressed the new monarch in three short Nobody can deny but he is sacred in his own pieces, of which the first is profane, and the two person, and it is every honest man's duty to others such as a boy might be expected to pro- defend it. duce; but he was commended by old Waller, “You are pleased to say, it is yet doubtful if who perhaps was pleased to find himself imitated the Hollanders are rash enough to make such in six lines, which, though they begin with non an attempt; but be that as it will, I beg leave sense and end with dulness, excited in the young to insist upon it, that I may be presented to his Author a rapture of acknowledgment.
Majesty, as one whose utmost ambition it is to In numbers such as Waller's self might use.
devote his life to his service, and my country's,
after the example of all my ancestors. It was probably about this time that he wrote “The gentry assembled at York, to agree the poem to the Earl of Peterborough, upon his upon the choice of representatives for the county, accomplishment of the Duke of York's marriage have prepared an address, to assure his Majesty with the Princess of Modena, whose charms they are ready to sacrifice their lives and forappear to have gained a strong prevalence over tunes for him upon this and all other occasions; his imagination, and upon whom nothing ever but at the same time they humbly beseech him has been charged but imprudent piety, an intem- to give them such magistrates as may be agreeperate and misguided zeal for the propagation of able to the laws of the land; for, at present, popery.
there is no authority to which they can legally However faithful Granville might have been submit. to the King, or however enamoured of the “They have been beating up for volunteers Queen, he has left no reason for supposing that at York and the towns adjacent, to supply the he approved either the artifices or the violence regiments at Hull; but nobody will list. with which the King's religion was insinuated “By what I can hear, every body wishes well or obtruded. He endeavoured to be true at to the King; but they would be glad his minisonce to the King and to the Church.
ters were hanged. Of this regulated loyalty he has transmitted “The winds continue so contrary, that no to posterity a sufficient proof, in the letter which landing can be so soon as was apprehended; he wrote to his father about a month before the therefore I may hope with your leave and asPrince of Orange landed.
sistance, to be in readiness before any action
can begin. I beseech you, sir, most humbly and “Mar, near Doncaster, Oct. 6, 1698. most earnestly to add this one act of indulgence “To the Honourable Mr. Barnard Granville, more to so many other testimonies which I have at the Earl of Bathe's, St. James's. constantly received of your goodness; and be
pleased to believe me always, with the utmost “Your having no prospect of obtaining a duty and submission, sir, commission for me can no way alter or cool my “ Your most dutiful son, desire at this important juncture to venture my
" And most obedient servant, life in some manner or other, for my king and
“Geo. GRANVILLE." my country.
“I cannot bear living under the reproach of Through the whole reign of King William he lying obscure and idle in a country retirement, is supposed to have lived in literary retirement,
and indeed had for some time few other plea
sures but those of study in his power. He was, * To Trinity College. By the University register it
as the biographers observe, the younger son of a appears that he was admitted to his master's degree in 1679; we must, therefore, set the year of his birth some younger brother; a denomination by which our years back.-H.
ancestors proverbially expressed the lowest state
of penury and dependence. He is said, how- / was added the dedication of Pope's “Windsor ever, to have preserved himself at this time from Forest.” He was advanced next year to be disgrace and difficulties by economy, which he treasurer of the household. forgot or neglected in life more advanced and in Of these favours he soon lost all but his title; better fortune.
for at the accession of King George, his place was About this time he became enamoured of the given to the Earl of Cholmondely, and he was Countess of Newburgh, whom he has celebrated persecuted with the rest of his party. Having with so much ardour by the name of Mira. He protested against the bill for attainting Ormond wrote verses to her before he was three-and- and Bolingbroke, he was, after the insurrection twenty, and may be forgiven if he regarded the in Scotland, seized Sept. 26, 1715, as a suspected face more than the mind. Poets are sometimes man, and confined in the Tower till Feb. 8, 1717, in too much haste to praise.
when he was at last released and restored to In the time of his retirement it is probable his seat in parliament; where (1719) he made a that he composed his dramatic pieces, the “She very ardent and animated speech against the reGallants," (acted 1696,) which he revised and peal of the bill to prevent occasional conformity, called “Once a Lover, and always a Lover;" which, however, though it was then printed, he "The Jew of Venice,” altered from Shakspeare's has not inserted into his works. “Merchant of Venice,” (1698;) “Heroic Love," Some time afterwards, (about 1722,) being a tragedy, (1701 ;) “The British Enchanters,” perhaps embarrassed by his profusion, he went (1706,) a dramatic poem, and “Peleus and The- into foreign countries, with the usual pretence of tis," a mask, written to accompany “The Jew recovering his health. In this state of leisure of Venice.”
and retirement he received the first volume of The comedies, which he has not printed in his Burnet's History, of which he cannot be supown edition of his works, I never saw; “Once a posed to have approved the general tendency, Lover, and always a Lover” is said to be in and where he thought himself able to detect a great degree indecent and gross. Granville some particular falsehoods. He therefore uncould not admire without bigotry; he copied dertook the vindication of General Monk from the wrong as well as the right from his masiers, some calumnies of Dr. Burnet, and some misreand may be supposed to have learned obscenity presentations of Mr. Echard. This was anfrom Wycherley, as he learned mythology from swered civilly by Mr. Thomas Burnet and OldWaller.
mixon; and more roughly by Dr. Colbatch. In his Jew of“ Venice," as Rowe remarks, the His other historical performance is a defence character of Shylock is made comic, and we are of his relation Sir Richard Greenville, whom prompted to laughter instead of detestation. Lord Clarendon has shown in a form very un
It is evident that “Heroic Love” was written aniable. So much is urged in this apology to and presented on the stage before the death of justify many actions that have been represented Dryden. It is a mythological tragedy, upon the as culpable, and to palliate the rest, that the love of Agamemnon and Chryseis, and there reader is reconciled for the greater part; and it fore easily sunk into neglect, though praised in is made very probable that Clarendon was by verse by Dryden, and in prose by Pope. personal enmity disposed to think the worst of
It is concluded by the wise Ulysses with this Greenville, as Greenville was also very willing speech :
to think the worst of Clarendon. These pieces Fate holds the strings, and men like children move were published at his return to England, But as they're led ; success is from above.
Being now desirous to conclude his labours, At the accession of Queen Anne, having his and enjoy his reputation, he published (1732) a fortune improved by bequests from his father, very beautiful and splendid edition of his works, and his uncle the Earl of Bath, he was chosen in which he omitted what he disapproved, and into parliament for Fowey. He soon after en- enlarged what seemed deficient. gaged in a joint translation of the “Invectives He now went to court, and was kindly reagainst Philip,” with a design, surely weak and ceived by Queen Caroline'; to whom and io the puerile, of turning the thunder of Demosthenes Princess Anne he presented his works, with upon the head of Louis.
verses on the blank leaves, with which he conHe afterwards (in 1706) had his estate again cluded his poetical labours. augmented by an inheritance from his elder bro He died in Hanover-square, Jan. 30, 1735, ther, Sir Bevil Grenville, who, as he returned having a few days before buried his wife, the from the government of Barbadoes, died at sea. Lady Anne Villiers, widow to Mr. Thynne, by He continued to serve in Parliament; and in the whom he had four daughters, but no son. ninth year of Queen Anne was chosen knight of Writers commonly derive their reputation from the shire for Cornwall.
their works; but there are works which owe At the memorable change of the ministry their reputation to the character of the writer. (1710) he was made secretary at war, in the The public sometimes has its favourites whom place of Mr. Robert Walpole.
it rewards for one species of excellence with the Next year, when the violence of party made honour due to another. From him whom we revetwelve peers in a day, Mr. Granville became rence for his beneficence, we do not willingly withLord Lansdown Baron Bideford, by a promotion hold the praise of genius: a man of exalted justly remarked to be not invidious, because he merit becomes at once an accomplished writer, was the heir of a family in which two peerages, as a beauty finds no great difficulty in passing that of the Earl of Bath and Lord Granville of for a wit. Potheridge, had lately become extinct. Being Granville was a man illustrious by his birth, now high in the Queen's favour, he (1712) was and therefore attracted notice; since he is by appointed comptroller of the household, and Pope styled “the polite,” he must be supposed a privy counsellor, and to his other honours / elegant in his manners, and generally loved; he