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The Fun 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
distinct or settled notion. "Phådrus 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 state, a narrative in which beings irrational, and sometimes inanimate, arbores loquuntur, non tantum fera, are, for the purpose of moral instruction, feigned to act and speak with human interests and passions. To this de. fcription the compositions of Gay do not always conform. For a Fable he gives now and then a Tale or an Allegory; and from fome, by whatever name they may be cailed, it will be difficult to extract any moral principle. They are, however, told with live
liness; the versification is smooth, and the diction, though now-and-then a little constrained by the measure or the rhyme, is generally happy.
To Trivia may be allowed all that it claims; it is spritely, various, and pleasant. The subject is of that kind which Gay was by nature qualified to adorn; yet fome of his decorations may be justly wished away. An honest blacksmith might have done for Patty what is performed by Vulcan. The appeare ance of Cloacina is nauseous and superfluous; a shoeboy could have been produced by the casual cohabitation of mere mortals. Horace's rule is broken in both cases; there is no dige Hus vindice nodus, no difficulty that required any supernatural interposition. A patten may be made by the hammer of a mortal, and a bastard may be dropped by a human strumpet. On great 'occasions, and on small, the mind is repelled by useless and apparent falsehood.
Of his little Poems the publick judgement feems to be right; they are neither much esteemed, nor totally despised. Those that
please least are the pieces to which Gulliver gave occasion; for who can much delight in the echo of an unnatural fiction?
Dione is a counterpart to Amynta, and Pastor Fido, and other trifles of the same kind, easily imitated, and unworthy of imitation. What the Italians call comedies from a happy conclusion, Gay calls a tragedy from a mournful event, but the style 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 support its representation through a long work. A Pastoral of an hundred lines may be endured; but who will hear of sheep and goats, and myrtle bowers and purling rivulets, through five acts ? Such scenes please Barbarians in the dawn of literature, and children in the dawn of life; but will be for the most part thrown away, as men grow wise, and nations grow learned.