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to Dr. Johnson, verses and flattery were alike thrown away for his interest; every thing being heard, and nothing done.
Of the Fables, by which he mainly hoped in this instance to improve his fortune, Dr. Johnson observes that he seems to have always thought favourably himself, for he left a second volume finished at his death. In this respect the public and an author have for once been of the same mind. That these poems are as well written as any thing of the sort in our language, is admitted on all hands; neither can it be denied that, as long as it shall be deemed best for children to be unnaturally instructed by finding birds and beasts talking and acting like mortals, the allegories of Gay may be usefully read ; and no one can fail to perceive that the tales of which these fables are in part compounded are really good. The language is sprightly, the versification easy, and the thoughts' oftener just and pertinent than might have been expected. The 'Hare with many Friends,' was read with general sympathy, as an expressive detail of the many disappointments to which expectations from the great had subjected the author.
Such was the state in which Gay was again driven to the theatres for a resource, and in no other effort of his life was he so successful. The Beggar's Opera,' for the first idea of which he is said to have stood indebted to Swift, was refused at Drury Lane, but acted in Lincoln's Inn Fields, during the season of 1727, for a series of sixty-three nights; and, perhaps, upon no other drama, if we except the works of Shakspeare, has so much criticism passed. Condemned in the closet for its utter violation of all the rules of dramatic propriety, and denounced from the pulpit for a direct excitement to immorality, it has risen superior to all objection, and ranked eminently popular through every fluctuation of taste and fashion. Nor ought any reader to be indignant at the triumph; for, however the classical may disrelish the licenses it takes with all established rules, they must, nevertheless, admit that happy wit and just satire deserve applause, even though the mode or form in which they are delivered may vary from prescribed dogmas; and perhaps the most virtuous may concede, that as we cannot turn into any path of life, or retreat into a corner of the earth without seeing vice advancing, and crimes unpunished, there is even a moral to be drawn from the
portraiture, which strips deception of its false colours, and exposes depravity in naked offensiveness. That this was the purpose for which Gay wrote the piece, and that it excites corresponding impressions, it were, if not hypocritical, at least hypercritical to deny. The strongest claim it had upon public favour was the levelling tact with which it laid bare the sins of men in office, but it had gentler charms in the exquisite music which breathed through its scenes. It was the parent of the ballad or comic operas of the English stage.
The profits of the · Beggar's Opera' amounted to 4001. and the author forth with set to work upon a sequel to it, which he called Polly:' but, before the latter was completed, the former was cried up to the honours of a political satire, and the Lord Chamberlain refused his sanction to the performance of a coun. terpart. From any loss consequent upon this new discomfiture, however, the attention of Gay's friends secured his purse. They came forward with a proposal for printing the opera by subscription, which was so well received that he realised 12001. by the publication. Before dismissing “Polly,' it is only fair to state, that she deserved no patronage whatever, and would never have reaped honours in her destined sphere. George Colman, the younger, attempted to revive the opera at the Haymarket Theatre, but the audience refused to hear it. The luck, therefore, by which Gay made so much money by a bad piece, may be set off as a balance against the disappointments to which he had been previously subjected. Nor did his prosperity close here: the Duke and Duchess of Queensbury received him into their house, and even condescended to superintend his pecuniary interests. But it was with him as with many others : when his good fortune seemed to be established, his health declined. He relapsed into a depression of spirits, the result of habitual indolence, and a want of mental energy, and died at Queensbury House, in Burlington Gardens, at the age of 45. His funeral was most honourably attended.
A short time previous to his demise, he produced · Acis and Galatea,' a sonata, which was set to music by Handel, and represented at the Haymarket Theatre. He left behind him 30001. which was divided between bis sisters ; and three plays
in manuscript— The Distressed Wife, Achilles,' a burlesque opera, acted for eighteen nights at Covent-garden Theatre, and the Rehearsal of Goatham,' a farce. The virtues of his disposition are recorded on his epitaph, and have never suffered from detraction. The pretensions of his literary character have also been estimated with unanimity. He possessed moderate, but pleasing talents, was a minor versifier, and in comedy was rather ludicrous than a wit. His poems are incorporated in all the editions of the British Poets, but are seldom read, and never quoted. Two ballads, however, 'All in the Downs,' and 'Twas when the Seas were roaring,' are to be excepted from this odium : they are spirited and happy. As for his dramas, with the exception of the 'Beggar's Opera,' they have long been out of print, and off the stage, and, in all probability, will never be republished or revived.
EARL OF GODOLPHIN.
In the south aisle of Westminster Abbey, is a good half-body bust by Bird, on a semicircular pedestal, which diminishes under a curtain, and is distinguished by this inscription :
SIDNEY, Earl of GODOLPHIN,
and Chief Minister during
he dyed in the year 1712,
and was burried near this
is offer'd with the utmost Gratitude Affection and Honour by his much obliged Daughter
in law, HENRIETTA GODOLPHIN.
The life of Sidney Godolphin, Earl of Godolphin, was so strictly political, and all that is either interesting or memorable in his conduct is so closely interwoven with the actions of other men and the affairs of the State, that this sketch, to do justice to his character, ought to contain a history of England during the period of his ministerial career. Such a course would obviously swell the bulk of this work far beyond its legitimate purposes : it must therefore suffice to recapitulate merely personal facts. Descended from an ancient Cornish family, and educated at Exeter College, Oxford, he became a member of Parliament, and
Groom of the Bedchamber during the reign of Charles II., and made himself conspicuous by supporting the party who would have excluded James II. from the Crown. This obnoxious act, however, did not operate to his prejudice when Charles died, for he was made Secretary of State, and created Baron Rialton in 1684. At the emergent conjuncture when William landed and James fled, he voted for a Regency, but had the influence or address to procure his nomination to the commission of the treasury when William and Mary were declared sovereigns. The reigu of Anne wrought the climax of his honours: by her he was made Lord High Treasurer of England, Knight of the Garter, and Earl of Godolphin. In 1710, however, the conflict of state parties obliged him to retire from place, an event which he only survived two years.
In the west walk of the cloisters is a marble tablet to the memory of his brother, who is thus eulogised :
“ Here rest, in hope of a blessed resurrection, CHARLES GoDOLPHIN, Esq. brother of the Right Honourable Sidney Earl of Godolphin, Lord High Treasurer of Great Britain, who died July 16, 1720, aged 69, and Mrs. Godolphin, his wife, who died July 29, 1726, aged 63 : whose excellent qualities and endowments can never be forgotten, particularly the public-spirited zeal with which he served his country in Parliament, and the indefatigable application, great skill, and nice integrity withı which he discharged the trust of a Commissioner of the Customs for many years. Nor was she less eminent for her ingenuity, with sincere love of her friends, and constancy in religious worship. But, as charity and benevolence were the distinguishing parts of their characters, so were they most conspicuously displayed by the last act of their lives; a pious and charitable institution, by him designed and ordered, and by her completed, to the glory of God, and for a bright example to mankind: the endowment whereof is a rent-charge of one hundred and eighty pounds a year, issuing out of lands in Somersetshire, and of which one hundred and sixty pounds a year are to be ever applied, from the 24th of June, 1726, to the educating eight young gentlewomen, who are so born, and whose parents are of the Church of England, whose fortunes do not exceed three hundred pounds, and whose parents or friends will undertake to