1728 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Gay

Quibus, "Lines on the Beggar's Opera" Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer (4 May 1728).



As wise Physicians try their utmost Skill
With Pulse and Urine, e're they write the Bill,
Gay, our bright Author, in a Study brown,
Had felt the Constitution of the Town,
And finding stupid Dulness the Disease,
He wrote the Beggar's Opera, to please.
Sated with Tragick Strains, and Comick Wit,
Our Taste has here an Entertainment fit:
Two Villains Daughters for a Thief contend,
And warbling Notes with dismal Ditties blend.
Pick-pockets, Newgate Sharpers, 'Squires o' th' Pad,
Turnkeys, Bauds, Whores to our Diversion add.
As Wit appears with Life, when in Extremes,
With hemlock Roots he bound his soaring Muse,
And in the lowest Life a Path did chuse,
A Path, where Criticks scarce will deign to tread;
There he's secure, — and for the Beaux light Head,
His Play's design'd, as Pendulum of Lead.
Observe th' Effects of half a Nation's Folly;
Gay thus commenc'd a Wit; an Angel, Polly.