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But O, my muse, what numbers wilt thou find To sing the furious troops in battle join'd! Methinks I hear the drum's tumultuous sound,
The victor's shouts and dying groans confound ; The dreadful bursts of cannon rend the skies,
'Twas then great Marlbro's mighty soul was proved,
“ALL IN THE DOWNS.”
BY JOHN GAY.
[John Gay was born at Barnstaple, in Devonshire, in 1688, and, after having been educated at the Grammar School of his native town, was bound apprentice to a silk mercer in London ; but, not liking the business, he obtained his discharge before the expiration of his time, and commenced writing poetry. His joy at being released from the drudgery of a shop is described in his “ Rural Sports.” He became domestic secretary to the Duchess of Monmouth ; and, in 1714, went to Hanover with the Earl of Clarendon, as secretary to the embassy, but returned in two months. His “Beggar's Opera," the success of which exceeded anything of the kind ever known, was written in revenge for his receiving no further promotion from the Court. A supplement to it, entitled “Polly,” was not allowed to be performed; but its publication proved extremely lucrative. The “ Beggar's Opera” brought him 400l. but “Polly” realized about 1,2001. One edition of his poems produced 1, oool.; and South Sea stock, which he received as a present, was at one time worth 20,000l. though it became valueless when the bubble burst. Pope and Swift were deeply attached to Gay, and the affection was mutual. He died in 1732, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
Gay's works have not retained their popularity ; their licentiousness is not redeemed by elegance. But his fables are still read with pleasure, and some of his songs are full of tenderness. ]
All in the Downs the fleet was moor’d,
The streamers waving in the wind,
“Oh! where shall I my true love find !
William, who high upon the yard
Rock'd with the billow to and fro,
He sigh'd, and cast his eyes below:
The cord slides swiftly through his glowing hands, And quick as lightning on the deck he stands.
So the sweet lark, high-poised in air,
Shuts close his pinions to his breast,
(If chance his mate's shrill call he hear)
And drops at once into her nest.
"O Susan, Susan, lovely dear,
My vows shall ever true remain ; Let me kiss off that falling tear;
We only part to meet again. Change as ye list, ye winds ! my heart shall be The faithful compass that still points to thee.
“Believe not what the landsmen say,
Who tempt with doubts thy constant mind ; They'll tell thee sailors, when away,
In every port a mistress find : Yes, yes, believe them when they tell thee so, For thou art present wheresoe'er I go.
“If to far India's coast we sail,
Thy eyes are seen in diamonds bright, Thy breath is Afric's spicy gale,
Thy skin is ivory so white : Thus every beauteous object that I view, Wakes in my soul some charm of lovely Sue.
• Though battle call me from thy arms,
Let not my pretty Susan mourn ;