Jack Sheppard eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 444 pages of information about Jack Sheppard.

“You’ve done quite enough,” rejoined Austin; “more than you’ll ever do again.”

“And then to be taken thus, in these disgraceful bonds!” continued Jack, “to be held up as a sight for ever!”

“Why, how else would you be taken?” exclaimed the jailer, with a coarse laugh.  “It’s very well Mr. Wild allowed you to have your fine clothes again, or you might have been taken in a still more disgraceful garb.  For my part, I think those shackles extremely becoming.  But, here they are.”

Voices being heard at the door, Austin flew to open it, and admitted Mr. Pitt, the governor, a tall pompous personage, who, in his turn, ushered in four other individuals.  The first of these, whom he addressed as Mr. Gay, was a stout, good-looking, good-humoured man, about thirty-six, with a dark complexion, an oval face, fine black eyes, full of fire and sensibility, and twinkling with roguish humour—­an expression fully borne out by the mouth, which had a very shrewd and sarcastic curl.  The poet’s appearance altogether was highly prepossessing.  With a strong tendency to satire, but without a particle of malice or ill-nature in its display.  Gay, by his strokes of pleasantry, whether in his writings or conversation, never lost a friend.  On the contrary, he was a universal favourite, and numbered amongst his intimate acquaintances the choicest spirits of the time,—­Pope, Swift, Arbuthnot, and “all the better brothers.”  His demeanour was polished; his manners singularly affable and gentle; and he was remarkable, for the generosity of his temper.  In worldly matters Gay was not fortunate.  Possessed, at one time, of a share in the South Sea stock, he conceived himself worth twenty thousand pounds.  But, on the bursting of that bubble, his hopes vanished with it.  Neither did his interest,—­which was by no means inconsiderable,—­nor his general popularity, procure him the preferment he desired.  A constant attendant at court, he had the mortification to see every one promoted but himself, and thus bewails his ill-luck.

    Places, I found, were daily given away,
    And yet no friendly gazette mentioned Gay.

The prodigious success of the “Beggars’ Opera,” which was produced about four years after the date of this history, rewarded him for all his previous disappointments, though it did not fully justify the well-known epigram, alluding to himself and the manager, and “make Gay rich, and Rich gay.”  At the time of his present introduction, his play of “The Captives,” had just been produced at Drury Lane, and he was meditating his “Fables,” which were published two years afterwards.

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Jack Sheppard from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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