1795 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Gay

Robert Anderson, in Works of the British Poets (1795) 8:257-58.



In 1714 he published The Shepherd's Week, in six pastorals, with a Proeme, in obsolete language, and a Prologue, addressed to Bolingbroke, who was then high in reputation and influence among the Tories. It was written at the instigation of Pope, and designed to degrade the compositions of A. Philips, his rival in pastoral poetry, by shewing, that if it be necessary to copy nature with minuteness, rural life must be exhibited, such as grossness and ignorance have made it. The execution of the plan exceeded the expectation of Pope, for the effect of reality and truth became conspicuous, even when the intention was to show them groveling and degraded; and The Shepherd's Week was read with delight, as a just representation of rural manners and occupations, by those who had no interest in the rivalry of Pope and Philips.