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however must be allowed to the author, of a new species of composition, though it be not of the highest kind, We owe: to Gay the Ballad Opera; a mode of comedy · which at first, was supposed to delight only by its novelty, but has now by the experience of half a century been found so well accommodated to the disposition of a popular audience, that it is likely to keep long poffeffion of the stage. Whether this new drama was the product of judgement or of luck, thepraise of it must be given to the inventor; and there are many writers read with more reverence, to whom such me, rit of originality cannot be attributed.
His first performance, the Rural Sports, is such as was easily planned and,
executed ; it is never contemptible, nor ever excellent. · The Fan is one of those mythological fictions which antiquity delivers ready to the hand; but which, like other things that lie open to every one's use, are of little value. The attention naturally retires from a new tale of Venus, Diana, and Minerva. * His Fables seem to have been a favourite work; for having published one volume, he left another behind him." Of this kind of Fables, the authors do not appear to have formed any diftinct or settled notion. Phædrus evidently confounds them with Tales, and Gay both with Tales and Allegories. A Fable or Apologue, such as is now under consideration, seems to be, in its genuine
ftate, a narrative in which beings irrational, and sometimes inanimate, arbores? loquuntur, non tantum ferè, are, for the purpose of moral instruction, feigned to act and speak with human interests and passions. To this description the compositions of Gay do not'always conform. For a Fable- he gives now and then a Tale or an Allegory; and from some, by whatever name they may be called, it will be difficult to extract any moral principle. They are, however, told with liveliness; the versification is smooth, and the diction, though now-and-then a little constrained by the measure or the rhyme, is generally happy.
lly happy. To Trivia may be allowed all that it claims : it is spritely, various, and plea
fant. The subject is of that kind which Gay was by nature qualified to adorn ; vet some of his decorations may be justly wished away. An honest blacksmith might have done for Patty what is performed by Vulcan. The appearance of Cloacina is nauseous and fuperfluous;. a shoeboy could have been produced by the casual cohabitation of mere mortals. Horace's rule is broken in both cases, there is no dignus vindice nodus, no difficulty that required any supernatural interpofition. A patten may be made by the hammer of a mortal, and a bastard may be dropped by a human ftruinpet. On great occasions, and on small, the mind is repelled by useless and apparent falsehood.
Of his little Poems the publick judgement seems to be right; they are neither much esteemed, nor totally defpifed.
Those that please leaft are the pieces to which Gulliver gave gecafion"; for who can much delight in the echo of an unnatural fiction? . STILL
Dione: is a counterpart : to Amyntaj and Pafter Fido, and other trifles of the same kind, easily imitated, and unwor.. thy of imitation. What the Italians call comedies from a happy conclufion, Gay calls a tragedy from a mournful event, but the stile of the Italians and of Gay is equally tragical. There is something in the poetical Arcadia fo remote from known reality and speculative possibility, that we can never fup