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THE BEGGAR's OPER A.

POLLY, or the SECOND PART of the
BEGGAR's OPERA.

ACHILLES,

AN OPERA.

THE DISTRESS'D WIFE,

A COMEDY.

THE REHEARSAL AT GOTHAM,

A FAR CE.

To which is prefixed an AccoUNT of the

LIFE AND WRITINGS OF THE AUTHOR.

LONDON:

Printed for W. STRAHAN, T. LOWNDES, T. CASLON,
W. GRIFFIN, W. Nicol L, S. BLADON, and

G. KEARSLEY. MDCCLXXII.

24 JUN 935

AN

ACCOUNT

OF THE

LIFE AND WRITINGS

OF THE

AUTHOR.

M

R. JOHN GAY was born at or near Barnftable, in Devonshire, and educated at the freefchool there, under Mr. William Rayner, the master, who was well qualified to give him a juft tafte of claffical learning. Being defcended of an ancient family, whose estate was greatly impaired, his friends thought proper to place him in a way of improving his fortune by trade. In this defign he was put apprentice to a filk mercer in London. But this ftation not fuiting his liberal fpirit, he began to fhew his difguft to a shop, almost from his firft entrance therein; and giving little attendance, and lefs attention to the business, he in a few years procured a releafe upon eafy terms, and took a final leave of his master. Having thus honourably got free from all restraint, he followed the bent of his genius, and foon gave the public fome admirable proofs of the character for which he was formed by nature; by writing his Rural Sports, a georgic, which he addrefs'd to Mr. Pope.

Thefe firft fpecimens of his poetical talents, added to the sweetness of his temper, and an almoft unexampled fimplicity of manners, immediately procured him the esteem and affection of his brother poets; and A 3

particularly

(6)

particularly endeared him to Mr. Pope, who was of the fame age with him. In the fociety of fuch friend's he paffed a few years, cultivating his mufe in that kind of improvident indolence and independency, which alone could make him perfectly happy. But his tafte of life being too elegant for his fortune, he gladly accepted an offer made him in 1712, of living with the duchefs of Monmouth, as her fecretary. This fituation fet him at full leifure to indulge his poetic vein; and the year following he compofed his Shepherd's Week, and publish'd it, with a dedication to lord Bolingbroke, in 1714. The fame year he refign'd his post under the duchefs, being appointed to attend the earl of Clarendon, in the like character, on an embaffy from queen Anne, to the court of Hanover.

The queen's death put an end to all his towering hopes however, upon his return home, he was receiv'd with the warmest welcome, by his friend beforemention'd; who advifed him to pufh the advantage which his laft employ had given him, of being perfonally known to the new fovereign, and his family. Accordingly he foon after took the opportunity of making his court to the princess of Wales, afterwards queen Caroline, on the arrival of her royal highnefs in England. This compliment was well received, and our author's farce, call'd The What d'ye Call it, being brought on the stage before the end of the feafon, both their royal highneffes honoured it with their prefence. The very kind reception he met with from perfons of the first distinction at this time, fill'd him with hopes of more fubftantial favours; and the failure of thefe made too deep an impreffion upon his tender nature, which upon that account was but ill-fuited to the wavering ftate of a flender fortune. To divert this melancholy, Mr. Pulteney took our author with him to Aix, in France, in the year 1717, and the following year, he was invited by lord Harcourt to his feat in Oxfordfire.

In 1720, he published his poems, in quarto, by fubfcription, with good fuccefs; but this was pre

fently

fently damp'd, by the loffes that befel him in the flocks that remarkable year; fo that by degrees, he fell into fuch an utter defpondency, as being attended with the cholic, brought his life in danger. In this unhappy fituation he removed, for the benefit of the air, in 1722, to Hampstead. Recovering from this disorder, in 1724, he finifhed his tragedy, call'd The Captives; and having the honour of reading it to her royal highness the princefs of Wales, he was farther encouraged to write a fet of Fables in verfe, for the ufe of the late duke of Cumberland: these he publish'd in 1726, with a fuitable dedication to that prince, who was then very young.

Upon the acceffion of his late majefty to the crown, the following year, in. fettling the queen's houfhold, the poft of gentleman ufher to the princefs Louifa was mark'd out for Mr. Gay; but he declin'd the offer, as unworthy of him: and being much dif fatisfied at not being better provided for, the following copy of verfes were foon after handed about`in manufcript, which having never been printed, are here prefented to the reader.

A mother who vaft pleasure finds,
In forming of her children's minds;
In midft of whom with vaft delight,
She paffed many a winter's night;
Mingles in every play, to find
What bias nature gave the mind;
Refolving thence to take her aim,
To guide them to the realms of fame;
And wifely make thofe realms their way
To those of everlasting day;
Each boift'rous paffion fhe'd controul,
And early humanife the foul,
The nobleft notions would infpire,
As they were fitting by the fire;
Her offspring, confcious of her care,
Tranfported hung around her chair.
Of Scripture heroes would fhe tell,

Whofe names they'd lifp, ere they could spell;

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