« PreviousContinue »
was but six years
age, he was apprenticed to a silk-mercer in London. Disliking the drudgery of a retail shop, he obtained the cancelling of his indentures, and devoted himself to literature. In 1708 he published a poem, in blank verse, called “Wine;'' and in 1711 " Rural Sports," a descriptive poem, which he dedicated to Pope, through life his admirer and friend. In Gay's time it was the fashion for the nobility to patronize men of letters, and he became domestic secretary to the Duchess of Monmouth. About this time he brought out a comedy, "The Wife of Bath,” which iled. In 1714 he published hi “Shepherd's Week,” a pastoral, and obtained the post of secretary to Lord Clarendon on his appointment of Envoy-extraordinary to Hanover;
but Gay was totally unfitted for public employment, and held the situation for two months only. On his return, he produced several dramatic pieces, with but slight success ; but in 1727 his “Beggars' Opera” came out, ran for sixty-two successive nights, and not only became the rage at the time, but has remained ever since one of the most popular pieces ever produced on the British stage. Gay cleared 6931. 13. 6d. for his share in the theatre, besides the profits of publication, and soon amassed 30001. by his writings. This he determined to keep "entire and sacred,” being at the same time received into the house of his early patrons the Duke and Duchess of Queensberry. Here he amused himself by adding to his "Fables." Had Gay written but his "Black-eyed Susan,' that one song would have fixed his name in English literature. He died, suddenly, of fever, Dec. 4, 1732, aged 44, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.]
I HATE the man who builds his name
A rose he pluck’d, he gazed, admired,
prove, Might I supply that envied place
With never-fading love!
More fragrant roses there.
With envy and despair :
TO THE POPPY.
GEORGIANA, DUCHESS OF DEVONSHIRE.
'Tis not because thy brilliant dye
But for thy latent power
I love thee, scarlet flower,
that only wake to weep.
TIIE DEATH OF THE FIRST-BORN.
ALARIC A. WATTS.
My sweet one, my sweet one, the tears were in my
eyes When first I clasped thee to my heart, and heard thy
feeble cries; For I thought of all that I had borne as I bent me
down to kiss Thy cherry lips and sunny brow, my first-born bud ot
I turned to many a withered hope, to years of grief and
pain, And the cruel wrongs of a bitter world flashed o'er my
boding brain; I thought of friends, grown worse than cold-of per
secuting foes, And I asked of heaven if ills like these must mar thy
youth's repose !
I gazed upon thy quiet face, half-blinded by my tears, Till gleams of bliss, unfelt before, came brightening on
my fears; Sweet rays of hope that fairer shone 'mid the clouds of
gloom that bound them, As stars dart down their loveliest light when midnight
skies are 'round them.
My sweet one, my sweet one, thy life's brief hour is
o'er, And a father's anxious fears for thee can fever me no
more! And for the hopes, the sun-bright hopes, that blossomed
at thy birth, They, too, have fled, to prove how frail are cherished
things of earth!
'Tis true that thou wert young, my child ; but though
brief thy span below, To me it was a little age of
woe; For, from thy first faint dawn of life, thy cheek began
to fade, And my lips had scarce thy welcome breathed, ere my
hopes were wrapt in shade.
Oh! the child in its hours of health and bloom, that is
dear as thou wert then, Grows far more prized, more fondly loved, in sickness
and in pain! And thus 'twas thine to prove, dear babe, when every
hope was lost, Ten times more precious to my soul, for all that thou
Cradled in thy fair mother's arms, we watched thee day
by day, Pale like the second bow of heaven, as gently waste
away; And, sick with dark foreboding fears, we dared not
breathe aloud, Sat, hand in hand, in speechless grief, to wait death's
It came at length: o'er thy bright blue eye the film was
gathering fast, And an awful shade passed o'er thy brow, the deepest
and the last : In thicker gushes strove thy breath-we raised thy
drooping head: A moment more-the final pang--and thou wert of the
Thy gentle mother turned away to hide her face from
me, And murmured low of heaven's behests, and bliss
attained by thee;
She would have chid me that I mourned a doom so
blest as thine, Had not her own deep grief burst forth in tears as wild
We laid thee down in thy sinless rest, and from thine
infant brow Culled one soft lock of radiant hair, our only solace
now; Then placed around thy beauteous corse flowers, not
more fair and sweetTwin rosebuds in thy little hands, and jasmine at thy
Though other offspring still be ours, as fair perchance
as thou, With all the beauty of thy cheek, the sunshine of thy
brow, They never can replace the bud our early fondness
nurst: They may be lovely and beloved, but not like thee, the
The first! How many a memory bright that one sweet
word can bring, Of hopes that blossom'd, droop'd, and died, in life's de
lightful springOf fervid feelings passed away--those early seeds of
bliss That germinate in hearts unseared by such a world as
My sweet one, my sweet one, my fairest and
first! When I think of what thou mightst have been, my
heart is like to burst; But gleams of gladness through my gloom their sooth
ing radiance dart, And my sighs are hushed, my tears are dried, when I
turn to what thou art !