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What transport in her bosom grew,
“Let me,” says she, “ your back ascend,
The horse replied, “Poor honest Puss,
She next the stately Bull implored ;
without offence, pretend
The Goat remark’d, “her pulse was high,
The sheep was feeble, and complain'd
She now the trotting calf address’d,
“Shall I,” says he, "of tender age,
For see the hounds are just in view." Gay wrote but little prose, except letters. He was too lazy to be a voluminous correspondent, but his style is easy, natural, and amusing. He had accompanied Pope to the seat of Lord Harcourt in Oxfordshire; and during his visit a violent thunder-storm occurred, the fatal effects of which upon two persons he gives in the following beautiful and affecting letter:
THE VILLAGE LOVERS.
Stanton Harcourt, Aug. 19, 1718. The only news that you can expect to have from me here is news from heaven, for I am quite out of the world ; and there is scarce any thing can reach me except the voice of thunder, which undoubtedly you have heard too. We have read in old authors of high towers levelled by it to the ground, while the humbler valleys have escaped : the oniy thing that is proof against it is the laurel
which, however, I take to be no great security to the brains of modern authors. But to let you see that the contrary to this often happens, I must acquaint you, that the highest and most extravagant heap of towers in the universe which is in this neighborhood, stands still undefaced, while a cock of barley in our next field has been consumed to ashes. Would to God that this heap of barley had been all that perished ! for, unhappily, beneath this little shelter sat two much more constant lovers than ever were found in romance under the shade of a beech-tree. John Hewet was a well-set man, of about five-and-twenty ; Sarah Drew might be rather called comely than beautiful, and was about the same age. They had passed through the various labors of the year together, with the greatest satisfaction: if she milked, it was his morning and evening care to bring the cows to her hand; it was but last fair that he bought her a present of green silk for her straw hat; and the posie on her silver ring was of his choosing. Their love was the talk of the whole neighborhood. It was that very morning that he had obtained the consent of her parents; and it was but till the next week that they were to wait to be happy. Perhaps, in the intervals of their work, they were now talking of the wedding-clothes ; and John was suiting several sorts of poppies and field-flowers to her complexion, to choose her a knot for the wedding-day. While they were thus busied, it was on the last of July, between two and three in the afternoon,) the clouds grew black, and such a storm of thunder and lightning ensued, that all the laborers made the best of their way to what shelter the trees and hedges afforded. Sarah was frightened, and fell down in a swoon on a heap of barley. John, who never separated from her, sat down by her side, having raked together two or three heaps, the better to secure her from the storm. Immediately there was heard so loud a crack, as if heaven had split asunder: every one was now solicitous for the safety of his neighbor, and called to one another throughout the field : no answer being returned to those who called to our lovers, they stepped to the place where they lay; they perceived the barley all in a smoke, and then spied this faithful pair: John with one arm about Sarah's neck, and the other held over her, as to screen her from the lightning. They were struck dead, and stiffened in this tender posture. Sarah's left eyebrow was singed, and there appeared 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 melancholy companions, they were conveyed to the town, and the next day were interred in Stanton Harcourt church-yard. My Lord Harcourt, at Mr. Pope's and my request, has caused a stone to be placed over them, upon condition that we furnished the epitaph, which is as follows:
When easteru lovers feed the funeral fire,
Sent his own lightning, and the victims seized. 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.
BARTON BOOTH. 1681-1733. BARTON BOOTH, though known in his day chiefly as an actor, deserves a notice in this work for his very beautiful song, entitled,
SWEET ARE THE CHARMS OF HER I LOVE.
More fragrant than the damask rose,
Gentle as air when Zephyr blows,
Or as the dial to the sun;
Whose swelling tides obey the moon;
The dam the tender kid pursues;
Of verdant spring, her note renews;
And vary as the seasons rise;
Summer th' approach of autumn flies:
Makes lofty oaks and cedars bow';
In his rude march he levels low :
The gentle godhead can remove;
To mingle with the bless'd above,
Where, known to all his kindred train,
Twin-born, from heaven together came:
When dying seasons lose their name;
JOHN ARBUTHNOT. Died 1735.
John ARBUTINOT, the son of a clergyman of the Episcopal church of Scot. land, was born at Arbuthnot, near Montrose, not long after the Restoration. Having at a proper age entered the University of Aberdeen, he applied himself with diligence to his studies. After taking his doctor's degree in medi cine, he resolved to push his fortunes in London. He began by teaching mathematics as a means of subsistence; and in 1697 he published “ An Examination of Dr. Woodward's Account of the Deluge.” This was considered a very learned performance, in the then infancy of geology; and his practice increasing with his profession, he became known to the most celebrated men of his day, and was, in 1704, elected a fellow of the Royal Society. The intimate friend and associate of Pope, Swift, Gay, Addison, Parnell, and other leading minds of that bright period of English literature, he was inferior to neither in learning or in wit, while in the versatility of his powers he was decidedly pre-eminent.
In 1714 the celebrated “ Scriblerus Club” was formed, consisting of most of the greatest wits and statesmen of the times. In this brilliant collection of learning and genius, no one was better qualified than Dr. Arbuthnot, both in point of wit and erudition, to promote the object of the society, which was “to ridicule all the false tastes in learning under the character of a man of capacity enough, that had dipped into every art and science, but injudiciously in each.” One of the productions of this club was the “ Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus," written conjointly by Pope, Swift, and Arbuthnot, though the latter doubtless wrote the greater part of it. It is a severe satire upon the follies of mankind; and for keen wit, cutting sarcasm, and genuine humor, has not, perhaps, its superior in the language; but disfigured, as it occasionally is, by a coarseness and vulgarity which the manners of the age readily tolerated, it is now but little read.
Dr. Arbuthnot died on the 27th February, 1735. As a wit and a scholar, the character in which he is best known to us, he may be justly ranked among the most eminent men of an age distinguished by a high cultivation of intellect and an almost exuberant display of wit and genius. “ His good morals,” Pope used to say, “ were equal to any man's, but his wit and humor superior to all mankind.” “ He has more wit than we all have,” said Dean Swift to a lady, “and his humanity is equal to his wit." In addition to these brilliant qualities, the higher praise of benevolence and goodness is most deservedly due to him. His warmth of heart and cheerfulness of temper rendered him much beloved by his family and friends, towards whom he displayed the most constant affection and attachment.1
1 Read an article in Retrospective Review, viii. 385.
Among the miscellaneous writings of Dr. Arbuthnot there is a short poem, which, notwithstanding its faults in metre, and occasional harshness,“ may fairly be ranked as one of the noblest philosophical poems in the language. It is marked by a conciseness and strength in the argument, a grandeur of thought, a force and propriety of language, a fine discrimination, and a vigor. ous grasp of mind, together with sound principles and pious sentiments, that are not often combined within the same limits." I
1 “ The Friend," i. 202.