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into Protection, still upheld him, yet he could not bear this (to him) so very great a Disappointment, and on this Subject, not long after, he writes to Mr. Pope, who was fo deeply concern’dat it, that he (being ill before) was made so much worse as to keep his Chamber'many Weeks. Mr. Gay's Letter was thus :
Dear Mr. Pope,
threatens me with some Return of Diftemper ; nay, I think I may rather say I have it on
Not the divine Looks, the kind Favours and. Expressions of the divine Dutchess, who hereafter fhaīl be in Place of a Queen to me, (nay, she shall be my Quecn) nor the inexpressible Goodness of the Duke, can in the least chear me. The DrawingRooin no more receives Light from those two Stars. There is now what Milton says is in Hell, Darkness visible. O that I had never known what a Court was! Dear Pope, what a barren Soil to me fo) have I been striving to produce something out of! Why did I not take your Advice before my writing Fables for the Duke, not to write them? Or rather, to write them for some young Nobleman?. It is my very hard Fate, I muft get nothing, write for them or against them. I find myself in such a strange Confusion and Depression of Spirits, that I have not Strength even to make my Will; though I perceive, by many Warnings, I have no continuing City here. I begin to look upon myself as one already dead ; and desire, my dear Mr. Pope, (whom I love as my own Soul) if you furvive me, (as you certainly will) that you will, if a Stone should mark the Place of my Grave, see these Words put on it;
of his Neighbour, and called to one another throughout the Field : No Answer being return'd to those who call'd to our Lovers, they stept to the Place where they lay; they perceiv'd the Barley all in a Flame, and then spy'd this faithful Pair : John with one Arm about Sarah's Neck, and the other held over her, as to skreen her from the Lightning. They were ftruck dead, and stiffen'd in this tender Posture. Sarah's left Eye-brow was sing’d, and there appear’d a black Spot on her Breast: Her Lover was all over black, but not the least Signs of Life were found in either. Attended by their melanchoiy Companions, they were convey'd to the Town, and the next Day were interr'd in Stanton-Harcourt Church-yard. My Lord Harcourt, at Mr. Pope's and my Request, has caused a Stone to be plac'd over them, upon Condition that we furnish'd the Epitaph, which is as follows;
When Eastern Lovers feed the Funeral Fire,
But my Lord is apprehensive the Country People will not understand this, and Mr. Pope says he'll make one with something of Scripture in it, and with as little of Poetry as Hopkins and Sternhold.
Whenever Mr. Gay had any Time upon his Hands, or was free from the Great, who us'd to be giving him continual Invitations to their Seats, Mr. Pope was still harping upon the old String of their living together, which only now depended upon the
Death of his Mother; this is evident in a Letter of his to Mr. Gay, just after he was recover'd from a Fit of Illness, and while Mr. Pope's Mother was in such declining Health, as well as Age, that he daily expected she would be call'd hence. Thus he writes to Mr. Gay :
choly with which I have been so long encompass’d, in an hourly Expectation almost of my Mother's Death; there was no Circumstance that render'd it more insupportable to me, than that I could not leave her to see you. Your own present Escape from so imminent Danger, I pray God may prove less precarious than my poor Mother's can be ; whose Life at best can be but a short Reprieve, or a longer dying. But I fear, even that is more than God will please to grant me; for, these two Days past, her most dangerous Symptoms are return'd upon her ; and unless there be a sudden Change, I must in a few Days, if not in a few Hours, be depriv?d of her. In the afficting Prospect before me, I know nothing that can so much alleviate it as the View now given me (Heaven grant it may encrease) of your Recovery. In the Sincerity of my Heart, I am excessively concern'd, not to be able to pay you, dear Gay, any Part of the Debt I very gratefully remember I owe you on a like fad Occasion, when you was here comforting mein her last great Illness. May your Health augment as fast as I fear her's muft decline: I believe that would be very fast - may the Life that is added to you be past in good Fortune and Tranquility, rather of your own giving to yourself, than from any Expectations or Trust in others. May you and I live together, without wishing more Felicity or Acquisitions than Friendship can give and re
Life is a Jeft, and all Things show it;
I thought so once, but now I know it. With what more you may
proper. If any Body should alk, how I could communicate this after Death ? Let it be known, it is not meant so, but my present Sentiment in Life. What the Bearer brings besides this Letter, should I die without a Will, (which I am the likelier to do, as the Law will settle my small Estate much as I should myself) let it remain with you, as it has long done with me, a Remembrance of a dead Friend : But there is none like you, living or dead.
I am, dear Mr. Pope,
Your's, &c. JOHN GAY.
When all his Expectations from the Court were thus reduced to nothing, Mr. Pope, before this last Letter, wrote him one in a Boldness of Spirit, and with Freedom ; fit to be seen and read by him, but never meant to be the Object of the publick Eye, It was dated 08. 6, 1727
Mind, and repeated to you, a ninth Beatitude, added to the eighth in the Scripture; “ Bleffed is he "who expects nothing, for he fhall never be disap« pointed.” I could find in my Heart to congratulate you on this happy Dismiffion from all Court-Dependance: I dare fay, I shall find you the better and the honester Man for it many Years hence ; very probably the healthfuller, and the chearfuller into the Bargain. You are happily rid of many cursed Ceremonies, as well as of many ill and vicious Habits, of which few or no Men escape the Infection, who are
hackney', and tramelled in the Ways of a Court. Princes indeed, and Peers, (the Lackies of Princes) and Ladies (the Fools of Peers) will smile on you the less; but Men of Worth and real Friends will look on you the better. There is a Thing, the only Thing which Kings and Queens cannot give you, (for they have it not to give) Liberty, and which is worth all they have; which, as yet I thank God, Englishmen need not ask from their Hands. You will enjoy that, and your own Integrity, and the fatisfactory Consciousness of having not merited such Graces from Courts as are bestow'd only on the meang servile, flattering, interested, and undeserving. The only Steps to the Favour of the Great are such Complacencies, fuch Compliances, fuch distant Decorums, as delude them in their Vanities, or engage them in their Paffions. He is their greatest Favourite, who is the falfest ; and when a Man, by such vile Gradations, arrives at the Height of Grandeur and Power, he is then at best but in a Circumstance to be hated, and in a Condition to be hanged, for serving their Ends: So many a Minister has found it!
I believe you did not want Advice, in the Letter you sent by my Lord Grantham ; I prefume you writ it not without; and
you could not have better, if I guess right at the Person who agreed to your doing it, in Respect to any Decency you ought to observe; for I take that Person to be a perfect Judge of Decencies and Forms. I am not without Fears even on that Person's Account: I think it a bad Omen ; but what have I to do with Court-Omens ! - Dear Gay, adieu. I can only add a plain, uncourtly Speech : While you are no Body's Servant, you may be any. ane's Friend ; and as such I embrace you, in all Conditions of Life. While I have a Shilling, vou I 4