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images were comic, and the action grave; so that, as Pope relates, Mr. Cromwell, who could not hear what was said, was at a loss how to reconcile the laughter of the audience with the solemnity of the scene."
Of this performance the value certainly is bat little ; but it was one of the lucky trifles that give pleasure by novelty, and was so much favoured by the audience, that envy appeared against it in the form of criticism ; and Griffin, a player, in conjunction with Mr. Theobald, a man afterwards more remarkable, produced (1715) a pamphlet called “The Key to What d'ye call it ;' which, says Gay, "calls me a blockhead, and Mr. Pope a knave." 11
But fortune has always been inconstant. Not long afterwards (1717) he endeavoured to entertain the town with Three Hours after Marriage ;' a comedy written, as there is sufficient reason for believing, by the joint assistance of Pope and Arbuthnot. One purpose of it was to bring into contempt Dr. Woodward the Fossilist, a man not really or justly contemptible. It had the fate which such outrages deserve : the scene in which Woodward was directly and apparently ridiculed, by the introduction of a mummy and a crocodile, disgusted the audience, and the performance was driven off the stage with general condemnation."
11 The What d'ye call it,' a tragi-comi-pastoral farce, was acted for the first time at Drury Lane 23rd Feb. 1714-15.
"A famous poet was certainly in the right, when giving an account why his 'What d'ye call 1t,' was bissed off the Stage: 'D-n them,' said he, they have not wit enough to take it.'"ARBUTIXOT's Works i, 110. Gulliver Decyphered. Lintot's Account Book, under the 14th Feb. 1714-15, exhibits a payment to Gay of 161. 28. 6d. (fifteen guineas) for the “What d'ye call it.'
19 Gay and Pope to Congreve, April 7, 1715. He published, January 1715-16, Trivia, or the Art of Walking the Streets of London. By Mr Gay. London: printed for Bernard Lintott, at the Cross Keys, &c.' Svo ri. d. Lintott's Account Book, under 22nd Dec. 1715, exhibits a payment to Gay of 481. for 'Trivia.' The third ed. of Trivia' appeared in 1780, 8vo.
18 It was acted for the first time at Drury Lane 16th January, 1716–17, and was played for seven nights. Cibber played . Plotwell.'
This comedy (* Three Hours after Marriage') occasioned two pamphlets, or libels, as Pope would have called them :-). "The Confederates, a Farce. By Mr. Gay.' With a preface signed Joseph Gay. 8v6., 1717, price 18. And II. ' A Letter to Mr. John Gay concerning his late Farce, entituled a Comedy.' 8vo., 1717, price 6d. On the title-page of the former (it was written by Breval) is a wood-cut of Pope as a diminutive between Gay with a foolscap in his hand, and Arbuthnot as a Highlander. Both pamphlets are personal enough, but both are destitute of wit.
For the more serious and lasting quarrel between Pope and Cibber, which would appear to have originated in this comedy, see · Life of Pope,' in this volume.
Gay is represented as a man easily incited to hope, and deeply depressed when his hopes were disappointed. This is not the character of a hero ; but it may naturally imply something more generally welcome, a soft and civil companion. Whoever is apt to hope good from others is diligent to please them ; but be that believes bis powers strong enough to force their own way, commonly tries only to please himself.
He had been simple enough to imagine that those who laughed at the 'What d'ye call it' would raise the fortune of its author ; and, finding nothing done, sunk into dejection. His friends endeavoured to divert him. The Earl of Burlington (the architect] sent him (1716) into Devonshire ; the year after, Mr. Pulteney (afterwards Earl of Bath) took him to Aix;" and in the following year Lord Harcourt invited him to his seat [in Oxfordshire), where, during his visit, two rural lovers were killed with lightning, as is particularly told in Pope's Letters.
Being now generally known, he published (1720) his Poems by subscription with such success, that he raised a thousand pounds; and called his friends to a consultation, what use might le best made of it." Lewis, the steward of Lord Oxford, advised bin to intrust it to the funds, and live upon the interest ; Arbuthnot bade him intrust it to Providence, and live upon the principal ; Pope directed him, and was seconded by Swift, to purchase an annuity.
Gay in that disastrous year " had a present from young Craggs of some South-sea stock, and once supposed himself to be master of twenty thousand pounds. His friends persuaded him to sell his share ; but he dreamed of dignity and splendour, and could not bear
" Mr. Addison and his friends bad exclaimed so much against Gay's "Three Hours after Marriage' for obscenities, that it provoked him to write 'A letter from a Lady in the City to a Lady in the Country' on that subject. In it he quoted the passages which had been most exclaimed against, and opposed other passages to them from Addison's and Steele's plays. These were aggravated in the same manner that they had served his, and appeared worse. Had It been published, it would have made Addison appear ridiculous, which he coull bear as little as any man. I therefore prevailed upon Gay not to print it, and have the manuscript now by me."-POPE: Spence by Singur, p. 202.
14 In the Suffolk Papers,' i. 82, is a letter from Gay to Mr. Howard, dated Dijon, Sept. 8, 1719.
15 Poems on Several Occasions.' By Mr. John Gay. 2 vols. 4to., 1720 (Tonson and Lia Lot). Lord Burlington's name occurs among the subscribers for 50 copies.
14 Spence by Singer, p. 214.
to obstruct his own fortune. He was then importuned to sell as much as would purchase an hundred a year for life," which," says Fenton, " will make you sure of a clean shirt and a shoulder of matton every day." This coupsel was rejected : the profit and principal were lost, and Gay sunk under the calamity so low that his life became in danger.
By the care of his friends, among whom Pope appears to have shown particular tenderness, his health was restored ; and, returning to his studies, he wrote a tragedy called 'The Captives,' which he was invited to read before the Princess of Wales." When the hour came, he saw the Princess and her ladies all in expectation, and advancing with reverence, too great for any other attention, stumbled at a stool, and falling forward, threw down & weighty Japan screen. The Princess started, the ladies screamed, and poor Gay, after all the disturbance, was still to read his play.
The fate of 'The Captives,' which was acted at Drury-lane in 1723-4, I know not ; but he now thought himself in favour, and undertook (1726) to write a volume of fables for the improvement of the young Duke of Cumberland. For this he is said to have been promised a reward, which he had doubtless magnified with all the wild expectations of indigence and vanity.
Next year  the Prince and Princess became King and Queen, and Gay was to be great and happy ; but on the settlement of the household be found himself appointed gentleman usher to the Princess Louisa. By tbis offer he thought himself insulted, and sent a message to the Queen, that he was too old for the place. There seemn to have been many machinations employed afterwards in his favour ; and diligent court was paid to Mrs. Howard, afterwards
17 I live almost altogether with Lord Burlington, and pass my time very agreeably. I len Chiswick about three weeks ago, and have been ever since at the Bath for the colical humour in my stomach, that you have heard me often complain of. Here is very little company that I know. I expect a summons very suddenly to go with Lord Burlington into Yorkshire. You must think that I cannot be now and then without some thoughts that give me uneasiness, who have not the least prospect of ever being independent; my friends do a great deal for me, but I think I could do more for them.-GAY to Francis Colman, Bath, 23rd Aug. 1721 : Peake's Culman, 1. 7.
18 Afterwards Caroline, Queen of George II.
10 It was acted seven nights: the first night was 15th Jan. 1723-4. The author's third night was by command of the Prince and Princess of Wales. Dr. Young, in a letter to Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, says that. The Captives' brought its author above 10001.
Countess of Suffolk, who was much beloved by the King and Queen, to engage her interest for his promotion ; bat solicitations, verses, and flatteries were thrown away; the lady heard them, and did nothing."
All the pain which he suffered from neglect, or, as he perhaps termed it, the ingratitude of the Court, may be supposed to have been driven away by the unexampled success of the Beggar's Opera.' This play, written in ridicule of the musical Italian Drama, was first offered to Cibber and bis brethren at Drury-lane, and rejected ; it being then carried to Rich, had the effect, as was ludicrously said, of making Gay rich, and Rich gay."
of this lucky piece, as the reader cannot but wish to know the original and progress, I have inserted the relation which Spence has given in Pope's words.
“ Dr. Swift bad been observing once to Mr. Gay, what an odd pretty sort of a thing a Newgate Pastoral might make. Gay was inclined to try at such a thing for some time ; but afterwards thought it would be better to write a comedy on the same plan. This was what gave rise to the 'Beggar's Opera.' He began on it ; and when first he mentioned it to Swift, the Doctor did not much like the project. As he carried it on, he showed what he wrote to both of us, and we now and then gave a correction, or a word or two of advice; but it was wholly of his own writing. When it was done, neither of us thought it would succeed. We showed it to Congreve ; who, after reading it over, said, 'It would either take greatly, or be damned confoundedly. We were all at the first night of it, in great uncertainty of the event ; till we were very much encouraged by overhearing the Duke of Argyle, who sat in the next box to us, say, 'It will do—it must do ! I see it in the eyes of them. This was a good while before the first act was over, and 80 gave us ease soon ; for that Duke (besides his own good taste)
** Not from unwillingness, but inability. Swift and Pope over-rated her induence with the King, which it now appears from the 'Suffolk Papers' and Lord Hrevey's 'Memoirs' was powerless from the predominant influence of the Queen and Sir Robert Walpole in all State matters, and even in minor appointments of the sincerity of Lady Suffolk la Gay's beball there can be do doubt whatever.
11 It was acted at the Lincola's Inn Fields Theatre, and the Arst night was 29th January 11 27%.
has a more particular knack than any one now living in discovering the taste of the public. He was quite right in this, as asual ; the good nature of the audience appeared stronger and stronger every act, and ended in a clamour of applause." **
Its reception is thus recorded in the notes to the 'Dunciad :'18
“ The vast success of it was unprecedented and almost incredible. . . . . It was acted in London sixty-three days uninterrupted," and renewed the next season with equal applauses. It spread into all the great towns of England; was played in many places to the thirtieth and fortieth time; at Bath and Bristol fifty, &c. It made its progress into Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, where it was performed twenty-four days together. It was at last acted in Minorca. The fame of it was not confined to the author only; the ladies carried about with them the favourite songs of it in fans, and houses were furnished with it in screens. The person who acted Polly, till then obscure, became all at once the favourite of the town ; her pictures were engraved and sold in great numbers ; her Life written, books of letters and verses to her published, and pamphlets made even of her sayings and jests. Furthermore, it drove out of England (for that season) the Italian Opera, which had carried all before it for ten years."
of this performance, when it was printed," the reception was dif
32 Spence by Singer, p. 150.
“Mr. Cambridge was told by Quinn that during the first night of its appearance It Fras long in a very dubious state ; that there was a disposition to damn it, and that it was saved by the song,
Oh ! ponder well, be not severe :
the audience being much affected by the innocent looks of Polly, when she came to those two lines, which exhibit at once a painful and ridiculous image:
For on the rope that hangs my dear,
Depends poor Polly's life. Quin himself had so had an opinion of it, that he refused the part of Captain Macheath."Boxcell by Croker, ed. 1843, p. 453.
23 Notes to Book III., 4to. and svo , 1729.
34 Only sixty-two, of which thirty-two days only were in succession. (See the curlous state ment of the receipts in 'Gent.'s Mag.' for March, 1822, p. 203, and Genest's ‘Stage,' iii. 227.) Some of the songs in 'The Beggar's Opera 'containing the severest satire are by Pope. (See Warton's Pope, Ix. 99.) That Pope had drawn, or at least aggravated the lines in The Beg. gar's Opera' against Courts and Ministers was the opinion expressed by Broome in a letter to Fenton of 3 May, 1729
36 In 8vo., 1723, for John Watts, price 18. 01. On the 6th Feb. 1797–8, Gay assigned to