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TOHN GAY, descended from all
old family that had been long in poffeffion of the manour of *Goldworthy in Devonshire, was born in 1688, at or near Barnstaple, where he was educated by Mr. Luck, who taught the school of that town with good reputation, and, a little before he retired from it, published a volume of Latin and English verses. Under such a master he was likely to form a taste for poetry. Being * Goldworthy does not appear in the Villire.
born without prospectof hereditary riches, he was sent to London in his youth, and placed apprentice with a silk mercer.
How long he continued behind the counter, or with what degree of softness and dexterity he received and accommodated the ladies, as he probably took no delight in telling it, is not known. The report is, that he was soon weary of either the restraint or servility of his occupation, and easily persuaded his master to discharge him.
The dutchess of Monmouth, remarkable for inflexible perseverance in her demand to be treated as a princess, in 1712 took Gay into her service as secretary : by quitting a shop for such fervice he might gain leisure, but he cer
tainly advanced little in the boast of independence. Of his leisure he made so good use, that he published next year a poem on Rural Sports, and inscribed it to Mr. Pope, who was then rising fast into reputation. Pope was pleased with: the honour; and when he became acquainted with Gay found such attractions in his manners and conversation, that he seems to have received him into his inmost confidence; and a friendship was formed between them which lasted to their separation by death, without any known abatement on either part. Gay was the general favourite of the whole association of wits; but they regarded him as a play-fellow rather than
a part. a partner, and treated him with more fondness than respect.
Next year he published The Shepherd's Week, fix English Pastorals, in which the images are drawn from real life, such as it appears among the rusticks in parts of England remote from London. Steele in some papers of the Guardian had praised Ambrose Philips as the Pastoral writer that yielded only to Theocritus, Virgil, and Spenser. Pope, who had also published Pastorals, not pleased to be overlooked, drew up a comparison of his own coin positions with those of Philips, in which he covertly gave himself the preference, while he seemed to disown it. Not content with this, he is supposed to have incited Gay to write