1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmund Gayton

Alexander Chalmers, in General Biographical Dictionary (1812-17) 15:360-61.



EDMUND GAYTON, or, as he sometimes styled himself, DE SPECIOSA VILLA, one of those authors of the seventeenth century, who contributed somewhat to the amusement of the republic of letters, without adding much to its credit, was the son of George Gayton of Little Britain, in London, where he was born in 1609. He was educated at Merchant Taylors' school, whence, in 1685, he was elected scholar of St. John's college, Oxford, became a fellow of that house, and master of arts. He was afterwards superior beadle of arts and physic, and took the degree of M. B. in 1647; but next year the parliamentary visitors ejected him from the beadleship. He now went to London, married, and maintained himself and wife by his writings. After the restoration, he was replaced in his office of beadle; but, according to Wood's account, followed more "the vices of poets." His residence, however, was still at Oxford, where he died in Cat-street, Dec. 12, 1666, and was buried in St. Mary's church, at the expence of the vice-chancellor, Dr. Fell, not having "but one farthing in his pocket when he died."

Among his works Wood enumerates, 1. Chartae Scriptae, or a New Game at cards, called Play by the Book, 1645, 4to. 2. Pleasant noses upon Don Quixote, 1654, folio, which have been often reprinted, and are not without humour, although not of the most refined cast. Prior's story of the ladle was taken from this work. 3. Hymna de febribus, Lond. 1655, 4to. 4. Will Bagnal's Ghost, or the Merry Devil of Gadmunton, ibid. 1655, 4to. 5. The Art of Longevity, or a dietetical institution, Lond. 1659. 6. Walk, Knaves, walk, a discourse intended to have been spoken at court; the name of Hodge Turbervil is in the title of this work, but it was written by Gayton, when in the king's bench prison, and published in 1659. 7. Wit revived; or a new excellent way of Divertisement, digested into most ingenious questions and answers, Lond. 1660, 12mo, published under the name, very allusive to the author's habits, of Atsdryasdust Tossoffacen. 8. Poem upon Mr. Jacob Bobart's Yew-men of the Guards to the Physic garden, &c. Oxon. 1662. Most of the above are in prose and verse, and he wrote also many single songs for satirical or festival purposes, which are now objects of expensive curiosity with collectors.