1728 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Gay

Anonymous, "An Addition to Gay's Fables" Mist's Weekly Journal (13 April 1728).



We have receiv'd the following TALE from Dublin, design's as an Addition to Gay's Fables.

A Mother who vast Pleasure find
In modelling her Childrens Minds;
In midst of whom, with great Delight,
She passes many a Winter Night;
Mingles in ev'ry Play to find
What Byass Nature gives the Mind;
Resolving thence to take her Aim
To guide them to the Realms of Fame,
And wisely make those Realms their Way
To Regions of eternal Day.
Each boist'rous Passion to controul,
And early humanize the Soul,
In simple Tales beside the Fire,
The noblest Notions wou'd inspire.
Her Offspring conscious of her Care,
Transported hung around her Chair.

Of Scripture Heroes she wou'd tell,
Whose Names they'd lisp e'er they cou'd spell.
Then the delighted Mother Smiles,
And shews the Story on the Tiles.

At other Times her Themes wou'd be
The Sages of Antiquity,
Who left a deathless Name behind,
By being Blessings to their Kind.

Studious to let her Children know
The various Turns of Things below,
How Vertue here was oft distress'd,
To shine more glorious with the Bless'd.
Told Tully's and the Gracchi's Doom,
The Patriots and the Pride of Rome.
Then bless'd the DRAPIER'S happier Fate,
Who sav'd (and lives to guard) the State.

Again she takes another Scope,
And tells of Addison and Pope.

Steel's Comedies give great Delight,
And entertain'd them many a Night.
C—ng—'s could no admittance find,
Forbid as Poison to the Mind.
That Author's Wit and Sense, says she,
But heightens his Impiety.

This happy Mother met, one Day,
A Book of Fables writ by Gay.
And told her Children, here's a Treasure,
A Fund of Wisdom and of Pleasure!
Such Morals! and so finely writ!
Such Decency, good Sense and Wit!
Well has the Poet found the Art
To raise the Mind and mend the Heart.

Her favourite Son the Author seiz'd,
And as he read seem'd highly pleas'd;
Made such Reflections ev'ry Page,
The Mother thought above his Age:
Delighted read, but scarce was able
To finish the concluding Fable.
What ails my Child, the Mother cries,
Whose Sorrows now have fill'd your Eyes?
Oh! dear Mamma, can he want Friends,
Who writes for such exalted Ends?
O base, degenerate, human Kind!
Had I a Fortune to my Mind,
Shou'd Gay complain? But now, alas!
Thro' what a World am I to pass?
Where Friendship is an empty Name,
And Merit scarcely paid in Fame.

Resolved to lull his Woes to rest,
She tells him he shou'd hope the best:
This has been yet his Case I own,
But now Augustus fills the Throne,
Content that tender Heart of thine;
He'll be the Care of Caroline.
Who thus instructs the Royal Race,
Can't fail of some distinguish'd Place.

Mamma, if you were Queen, says he,
And such a Book were writ for me;
I find, 'Tis so much to your Taste,
That Gay wou'd keep his Coach at least.

My Child, what you suppose is true,
I see its Excellence in you.
Poets, who write to mend the Mind,
A Royal Recompence should find.
But I am barr'd by Fortune's Frowns,
From the best Privilege of Crowns,
The glorious Godlike Power to bless,
And raise up Merit in Distress.
But, dear Mamma, I long to know,
Were you the Queen, what you'd bestow?
What I'd bestow, says she, my Dear,
At least a thousand Pounds a Year.