1733 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Gay

John Arbuthnot to Jonathan Swift, 13 January 1733; Works of the Rev. Jonathan Swift, ed. John Nichols (1801) 13:22-23.



We have had another loss of our worthy and dear friend Mr. Gay. It was some alleviation of my grief to see him so universally lamented by almost every body, even by those who knew him only by reputation. He was interred at Westminster-Abbey, as if he had been a peer of the realm; and the good duke of Queensberry, who lamented him as a brother, will set up a handsome monument upon him. These are little affronts upon vice and injustice, and is all that remains in our power. I believe the Beggar's Opera, and what he had to come upon the stage, will make the sum of the diversions of the town for some time to come. Curll (who is one of the new terrours of death) has been writing letters to every body for memoirs of his life. I was for sending him some, particularly, an account of his disgrace at court, which, I am sure, might have been made entertaining: by which I should have attained two ends at once, published truth, and got a rascal whipped for it. I was overruled in this. I wish you had been here, though I think your are in a better country. I fancy to myself, that you have some virtue and honour left, some small regard for religion. Perhaps christianity may last with you at least twenty or thirty years longer. You have no companies or stockjobbing, are yet free of excises; you are not insulted in your poverty, and told with a sneer, that you are a rich and a thriving nation. Every man that taken neither place nor pension, is not deemed with you a rogue, and an enemy to his country.