1690 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmund Gayton

Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses (1690-91; 1721) 2:388-89.



EDMUND GAYTON, or "de Speciosa villa," as he entitled himself, Son of George Gayton of Little Britain in London, was born there, elected Scholar of S. John's Coll. from Merchant Taylor's School in the Year 1625, aged 16, became afterwards Fellow of that House, Master of Arts, superior Beadle of Arts and Physic of this University, in the place of Joh. Beel deceased, an. 1636, Bach. of Phys. actually created, by virtue of a Dispensation from the Delegates 1647, turn'd out of his Beadleship in the Year following by the Parliamentarian Visitors, lived afterward in London in a sharking condition, and wrote trite things meerly to get Bread to sustain him and his Wife. After the King's return in 1660, he was restored to his place by the King's Commissioners, but having got an itch in scribling, followed that sometimes, but more the Vices of Poets, of which number he pretended to be one, and one eminent he might have been, had he not been troubled with the faculty of too much lifting. He hath written some good, others most vain and trashy, things, as you may partly see by the Catalogue following, which according to the method must be here set down, tho' rather fit to be buried in oblivion.

Epulae Oxonienses: or, a jocular Relation of a Banquet presented to the best of Kings, by the best of Prelates, in the Year 1636 in the Mathematic Library at S. Jo. Bapt. Coll. — This is a song, and musical notes are set to it, in two parts, with this beginning, "It was (my staff upon't) in thirty-six," &c.

Chartae scriptae: or, a new Game at Cards, called, Play by the Book. — Printed 1645. qu. Written, if I am not mistaken, in verse.

Pleasant Notes upon Don Quixot. Lond. 1654. fol. Written in prose, mix'd now and then with verse; which is accounted our author's master-piece.

Hymna de Febribus. Lond. about 1655. qu. in Lat. verse.

Will. Bagnal's Ghost: or, the merry Devil of Gadmunton, in his Perambulation of the Prisons of London: Lond. 1655. qu. Written mostly in verse, the latter end in prose. The title is in imitation of Shakespear's comedy, called, The Merry Devil of Edmonton, which last word was changed into Gadmunton, because it comes near the author's name.

The Art of Longevity, or, a diaterical Institution. Lond. 1659. qu. written in verse. There were commendatory verses before it by sir Tho. Allen, sir Robert Stapylton, Henry Johnson, L.L.D. Joh. Heath, (Jam. Heath) captain Franc. Aston of St. John's coll. &c.

Walk, Knaves, Walk, a Discourse intended to have been spoken at Court, and now published for the Satisfaction of all those that have participated of public Employments. By Hodge Turberville, Chaplain to the late Lord Hewson. Lond. printed in the year 1659. But the true author was Mr. Gayton, who wrote it (as I remember) in the Kings-Bench prison.

Wit revived: or, a new excellent Way of Divertisment, digested into most ingenious Questions and Answers. Lond. 1660. in tw. Published under the name of Asdryasdust Tossoffacan.

Poem upon Mr. Jacob Bobard's Yew-men of the Guards to the Physic-Garden, to the Tune of the Counter Scuffle. Oxon, 1662, on one side of a sh. of paper. He also was (if I mistake not) author of A Ballad on the Gyants in the Physic Garden in Oxon, who have been breeding Feet as long as Gargantua was Teeth. Ox. 1662. on one side of large sh. of paper.

Diegerticon ad Britanniam. Ox. 1662, on one side of half a sh. of paper.

Poem written from Oxon to Mr. Rob. Whitehall at the Wells in Astrop. Oxon. 1666. in half a sh. of paper on both sides. To which Robin made an answer, but 'twas not printed. The said Edm. Gayton did also collect and publish Harry Marten's Familiar Letters to his Lady of Delight, &c. with other things of that author, not without some enlargements of his own, which hath made many to suppose that they were not written by Marten, but devised by Gayton, who also wrote a buffooning answer to a letter called A Copy of Henry Marten's Letter in Vindication of the Murther of King Charles: Which answer is printed with the letters before-mentioned. At length this our vain and impertinent Author Gayton dying in his Lodgings in Catstreet near the public Schools, on the 12th Day of Decemb. in sixteen hundred sixty and six (having had Verses of his composition published but 7 Days before) was buried in S. Mary's Church in Oxon, near to the entrance thence into the lower part of the Steeple, or near to the Tomb of Edm. Croston, with Monies given for that purpose by the Vice chancellor. Three Days after his Death there was a Convocation for the election of which the said Vice chancellor (Dr. Fell) stood up and exhorted the Masters in a set Speech to have a care whom they should chuse, and desired them by all means that they would not elect a Poet, or any that do libellos scribere, adding withal that the late Beadle (Gayton) was such an ill husband, and so improvident, that he had but one Farthing in his Pocket when he died, &c. But notwithstanding this exhortation, which was just, the Black-pot-men, or such who are called Boon Blades, who, (with shame be it spoken) carry all before them in Elections, did instead of electing a Master of Arts (for there were two that stood) to that beneficial place, (which hath been done time out of mind) did chuse a Yeoman-Beadle (Solad. Lichfield) who had formerly kept a public Inn, and was good for nothing but eating, drinking, smoaking, and punning.