Miscellany of POEMS
Ipsa varietate tentamus efficere ut alia aliis; quædam fortasse omnibus placeant.
[From Miscellaneous Poems and Translations, 1712, 1714, 1720, and 1722.
See pp. xxxv, xxxvii, and 88.
The editions of 1712 and 1714 use capital letters freely, and white lines between paragraphs; the editions of 1720 and 1722 do not. The motto from Pliny is only given in 1712 and 1714.
There is, I think, sufficient though indirect evidence that this poem is by Gay. In all four editions of the Miscellaneous Poems and Translations it is printed anonymously. In the editions of 1712 and 1714 it is, besides Arachne, Gay's sole contribution; but in the editions of 1721 and 1722 three other poems, with Gay's name attached, were added (The Epistle to Burlington, Epistle to a Lady, and Sweet William's Farewell). Arachne was then transposed from its place in the earlier editions, and printed with the last-named pieces. Between the Epistles and Sweet William this poem is printed, followed by the "Verses design'd to be prefix'd to Mr. Lintott's Miscellany" now generally attributed to Pope. Nichols's edition of 1779 includes our poem; and the style is very evidently Gay's. There is, in my judgement, no force in Mr. I. A. Williams's contention that, if this poem is by Gay, so must be the verses following it and beginning 'Some Colinaeus praise, some Bleau'. Identity of subject, not of authorship, is the reason for their juxtaposition.]
As when some skilful cook, to please each guest,
Would in one mixture comprehend a feast,
With due proportion and judicious care
He fills each dish with diff'rent sorts of fare,
Fishes and fowl deliciously unite,
To feast at once the taste, the smell, and sight.
So, Bernard, must a miscellany be
Compounded of all kinds of poetry;
The muses O'lio, which all tastes may fit,
And treat each reader with his darling wit. 10