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the Shepherd's Week, to shew, that if it be necessary to copy nature with minute-ness, rural life must be exhibited such as grossness and ignorance have made it. So far the plan was reasonable; but the Pastorals are introduced by: a Proeme, written with such imitation as they could attain of obsolete language, and by consequence in a stile that was never spoken nor written in any age or in any place.
But the effect of reality and truth became conspicuous, even when the in-tention was to shew them groveling and degraded. These Pastorals became popular, and were read with delight as just representations of rural manners and oc-cupations by those who had no interest. A 3 .
in the rivalry of the poets, nor knowledge of the critical dispute. . In 1713 he brought a comedy called The W'ife of Bath upon the stage, but it received no applause; he printed it, however; and seventeen years after, having altered it, and, as he thought, adapted it more to the publick taste, he offered it again to the town; but though he was flushed with the success of the Beggar's Opera, had the mortification to see it again rejected.
In the last year of queen Anne's life, Gay was made secretary to the earl of Clarendon, ambassador to the court of Hanover. This was a station that naturally gave him hopes of kindness from every party; but the Queen's death put
an end to her favours, and he had dedicated his Shephere's Week to Bolingbroke, which Swift considered as the crime tlrat obstructed all kindness from the house of Hanover:
He did not, however, omit to improve the right which his office had given him to the notice of the royal family. On the arrival of the princess of Wales he wrote a poem, and obtained so much favour that both the Prince and Princess went to see his What d'ye call it, a kind of mock-tragedy, in which the images were comick, and the action grave; so that, as Pope relates, Mr. Cromwel, who could not hear what was faid, was at a loss how to reconcile the
laughter of the audience with the folem. nity of the scene.
Of this performance the value certainly is but 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 Griffen a player, in conjunction with Mr. Theobald, a man afterwards more remarkable, produced a pamphlet called the Key to the What d'ye call it; which, fays Gay, calls me a blockbead, and Mr. Pope a knave.
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 Fossilift, 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.
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 supply something more gene