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tho so early in Life, & was declining for 5 or 6 months. It was not, as I apprehended, the Gout in his Stomach, but I believe rather a Complication first of Gross Humors, as he was naturally corpulent, not discharging themselves, as he used no sort of Exercise. No man better bore ye approaches of his Dissolution (as I am told) or with less ostentation yielded up his Being. The great Modesty wch you know was natural to him, and y® great Contempt he had for all Sorts of Vanity & Paradle, never appeared more than in his last moments: He had a conscious Satisfaction (no doubt) in acting right, in feeling himself honest, true, & un-pretending to more than was his own. So he dyed, as he lived, with that secret, yet sufficient, Contentment.
“ As to any Papers left behind him, I dare say they can be but few; for this reason, He never wrote out of Vanity, or thought much of the Applause of Men. I know an Instance where he did his utmost to conceal his own merit that way; and if we join to this his natural Love of Ease, I fancy we must expect little of this sort : at least I hear of none except some few further remarks on Waller (web his cautious integrity made him leave an order to be given to Mr. Tonson) and perhaps, tho tis many years since I saw it, a Translation of yo first Book of Oppian. He had begun a Tragedy of Dion, but made small progress in it.
“ As to his other Affairs, he dyed poor, but honest, leaving no Debts, or Legacies ; except of a few prs to Mr. Trumbull and my Lady, in token of respect, Gratefulness, & mutual Esteem.
“ I shall with pleasure take upon me to draw this amiable, quiet, deserving, unpretending Christian and Philosophical character, in His Epitaph. There Truth may be spoken in a few words: as for Flourish, & Oratory, & Poetry, I leave them to younger and more lively Writers, such as love writing for writing sake, & wd rather show their own Fine Parts, y“ Report the valuable ones of any other man. So the Elegy I
“ I condole with you from my heart, on the loss of so worthy a man, and a Friend to us both. Now he is gone, I must tell you he has done you many a good office, & set your character in the fairest light, to some who either mistook you, or knew you not. I doubt not he has done the same for me.
“Adieu : Let us love his Memory, and profit by his example. I am very sincerely
« De SIR
“ A. Pope.” 27
27 Mr. Harte, who knew many particulars of his (Fenton’s] life, once told me he would write an account of it.-Jos. Warton: Pope's Works by Warton, vii. 328.
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Born at Barnstaple, in Devonshire Apprenticed to a Silkmercer –
Made Secretary to the Duchess of Monmouth Publishes "The Shepherd's Week’-- Acquires the Friendship of Pope — His Court Disappointments — His intimacy with Mrs. Howard and the Duchess of Queensberry Writes “The Beggar's Opera' —- Its great success His next Play prohibited His Fables Death, Burial, and Monument in Westminster Abbey Works and Character.
John Gay, descended from an old family that had been long in possession of the manor 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 born without prospect of hereditary riches, he was sent to London in his youth, and placed apprentice with a silkmercer.?
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 Duchess 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
I Goldworthy does not appear in the · Villare.' Jousson.
? John Gay was the second son of John Gay, Esq., of Frithelstock, near Great Torrington. His father and mother died in or about 1694, leaving two sons (Jonathan, in the army, d. 1709) and two daughters, who inherited the poet's property. (See ‘Memoir of Gay,' by his nephew Baller, in 'Gay's Chair,' 12mo., 1820.)
such service, he might gain leisure, but he certainly 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 partner, and treated him with more fondness than respect."
Next year (1714) he published • The Shepherd's Week,' six English pastorals, in which the images are drawn from real life, such as it appears among the rustics in parts of England
3 In the same year in which, according to Johnson, he was made secretary to Monmouth's widow, he published in Lintot's first Miscellany (better known as Pope's) the Story of Arachne,' from Ovid, with his name to it.
4 • Rural Sports. A Poem. Inscribed to Mr. Pope. By Mr. Gay, Lon. don: Tonson, 1713,' fol.
5 I would willingly satisfy the curiosity of your friend, in relation to Mr. Gay, if it were not easy to get much fuller information than I am able to give, from Mr. Budgell or Mr. Pope; to the first of whom the beginning of his life was best known, and to the last its afternoon and evening. That poem you speak of, called 'WINE,' he printed in the year 1710, as I remember. I am sure I have one among my pamphlets. . . . As to your question whether Mr, Gay was ever a domestic of the Duchess of Monmouth, I can answer it in the affirmative. He was her secretary about the year 1713, and continued so till he went over to Hanover, in the beginning of the following year, with Lord Clarendon, who was sent thither by Queen Anne. At his return, upon the death of that Queen, all his hopes became withered, till Mr. Pope (who you know is an excellent planter) revived and invigorated his bays, and indeed very generously supported him in some more solid improvements; for I remember a letter wherein he invited him to partake of his fortune (at that time but a small one), assuring him, with very unpoetical warmth, that as long as himself had a shilling, Mr. Gay should be welcome to sixpence of it; nay to eightpence, if he could contrive but to live on a groat.-Aaron Hill to Savage, June 23, 1736: Works, i. 337. I have a copy of his poem, called · Wine, printed by “ Pirate Hills,” in 1708. It is written in Miltonian verse.
6 «The Shepherd's Week. In Six Pastorals. By Mr. J. Gay. London: printed and sold by R. Burleigh, in Amen Corner, 1714,' 8vo. In the same year appeared “The Fan. A Poem in Three Books. By Mr. Gay. London: printed for J. Tonson, 1714,' folio.