Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

extreme indigence, that they could not pay for a lodging, so that they have wandered together whole nights in the streets. Yet as Savage had seen life in all its varieties, and been much in the company of the statesmen and wits of his time, we may fuppose, in these scenes of distress, that he communicated to Johnson an abundant supply of such materials as his philosophical curiosity most eagerly desired, and mentioned many of the anecdotes with which he afterwards enriched the life of his unhappy companion.

He mentioned to Sir Joshua Reynolds, that one night in particular, when Savage and he walked round St. James's Square, for want of a lodging, they were not at all depressed by their fituation, but in high fpirits; and, brimful of patriotism, traverfed the Square for several hours, inveighed against the minister, and “ resolved they would stand by their country.

I

[ocr errors]

. Sir John Hawkins supposes that “ John-
son was captivated by the address and de-
meanour of Savage, who, as to his exterior,
was to a remarkable degree accomplished;
he was a handsome well made man, and
very courteous in the modes of faluta-
tion.” He took off his hat, he tells us,
with a good air, made a graceful bow, and
was a good swordsman.“ These accom-
plishments,” he adds; " and the ease and
pleasantry of his conversation, were pro-
bably the charms that wrought on John-
son, who at this time had not been accus-
tomed to the conversation of gentlemen.”
But if, according to his biographer's no-
tion, he “ never saw the charms of his
wife," how should he perceive the graces
of Savage ?

Johnfon, indeed, describes him as ha-
ving “a graceful and manly deportment,
a solemn dignity of mien, but which, upon
ä nearer acquaintance, 'foftened into an

engaging easiness of manners.” How highly he admired him for that knowledge, which he himself so much cultivated, and what kindness he entertained for him, appears in the following verses in the Gentleman's Magazine for April 1738.

Ad RICARDUM SAVAGE Arm. humani generis

amatorem.
Humani studium generis cui pectore fervet,
O! colat humanum te foveatque genus !

anun

About this time he became acquainted with Miss Elizabeth Carter, the learned translator of “ Epictetus,” to whom he paid a friendly attention, and in the same Magazine complimented her in An Ænigma to Eliza, both in Greek and Latin. He writes Mr. Cave, “ I think she ought to be celebrated in as many different languages as Lewis le Grand.” His verses to a Lady, (Miss Molly Afton) who spoke in defence of liberty, first appeared in the same Magazine.

In May 1738, he published his London, a Poem, written in imitation of the 3d fatire of Juvenal. It has been generally said, that he offered it to several booksellers, none of whom would purchase it. Mr. Cave, at last, communicated it to Dodfey, who had taste enough to perceive its uncommon merit, and thought it “ creditable to be concerned with it.” Dodsley gave him rol. for the copy. It is remarkable, that it came out on the same morning with Pope's satire, intituled, “ 1738,” Oņe of its warmest patrons was General Oglethorpe. Pope also was so struck with its merit, that he fought to discover the author, and prophesied his future fame. “ He will,” said he, “ soon be deterré,and it appears from his note to Lord Gower, he himself was successful in his inquiries. To " a short extract from London," in the Gentleman's Magazine for May, is added, “ Become remarkable for

[ocr errors]

having got to the second edition in the space of a week.” This admirable poem laid the first foundation of his fame. Sir John Hawkins observes, that in this poem he has adopted the vulgar topic of the time, to gratify the malevolence of the Tory faction; and Mr. Boswell candidly allows, that " the flame of patriotism and zeal for popular resistance with which it is fraught, had no just cause.” It contains the most spirited invectives against tyranny and oppression, the warmest predilection for his own country, and the purest love of virtue, interspersed with traits of his own particular character and situation, He heated his mind with the ardour of Juvenal, and he wrote with the spirit and energy of a fine poet, and a sharp critic of the times. Boileau had imitated the same satire with great success, applying it to Paris; but an attentive comparison will fatisfy every reader that he is much excelled

« AnteriorContinuar »