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* who had so much distinguished himself by his generous encouragement of poetry,” communicated it to Dodsley, who had taste enough to perceive its uncommon merit, and thought it “ a creditable thing to be concerned in.” Dodsley gave him ten guineas for the copy; a sum certainly disproportioned to his labour and ingenuity; but he was actually in such distress, that the small profit which so short a poem could yield was counted as a “ relief,” and received with gratitude. It came out, anonymously, on the same morning with Pope's Satire, entitled 6 1738,", and immediately attracted so much attention, that it " got to a second edition in the space of a week*.” Lyttleton, the instant it was published, carried it in rapture to Pope, who then filled the poetical throne, without'a rival; and to his credit, let it be remembered, that he was so struck with its merit, that he sought to discover the author, and prophesied his future fame.“ Whoever he is,” said he, “ he will soon be deterre t;»
' * Gentleman's Magazine for May 1738... - “ Ubi, ubi est, diu celari non potest.? TERENT.
and it appears, from his note to Lord Gower, that he himself was successful in his inquiries. This admirable poem, written with the energy of the ancient satirist, and the elegance of the imitator of Horace, laid the foundation of his fame. In the original satire, the poet takes leave of a friend who was withdrawing himself from the vices of Rome. In the intended retreat of Savage, the unmerited treatment to which indigence is subjected, the insolence of illacquired wealth, and the oppressions of a corrupt administration, Johnson fancied he perceived a resemblance between the manners of the times and those of degenerate Rome; and drew a parallel between the corruptions of each, exemplifying it, with equal judgment and asperity, by characters then subsisting. The first lines manifestly anticipate the departure of Savage *.
* According to Mr Boswell, Johnson “ was not so much as acquainted with Savage when he wrote his London.” It has been ascertained, by Johnson's own authority, that it was “ written in 1738,” and the evidence of its publication in the month of May in that year is unquestionable. Surely the lines written by
“ Though guilt and fondness in my breast rebel, When injur'd Thales bids the Town farewel; Yet still my calmer thoughts his choice commend, I praise the hermit, but regret the friend. Resolved at length, from Vice and London far, To breathe in distant fields a purer air, And, fix'd on Cambria's solitary shore, Give to St David one true Briton more."
Johnson, as might be expected from his strong political prejudices, impregnated his poem with the fire of opposition. He adopted the common topics of patriotism, liberty, and independence, to gratify the malevolence of the Tory faction, who, professing themselves to be the friends of the people, employed all the animation and all the eloquence of resista ance to power, to delude the nation into a belief, that Sir Robert Walpole, the objects of whose administration were peace and the ex.
Johnson, Ad Ricardum Savage, in April 1738, imply a previous acquaintance with him: for Johnson could not have praised a stranger in such terms. The delay of Savage's journey to Wales until the following year is a
journey would justify the lines alluding to it. See Boswell's Life, &c. vol. I, p. 94.
tension of commerce, was its greatest enemy, and that his opponents only meant its welfare. Mr Boswell candidly allows, that “ the flame of patriotism and zeal for popular resistance with which it is fraught, had no just cause. There was, in truth, no “ oppression,” the “ nation” was not cheated Sir Robert Walpole was a wise and a benevolent minister, who thought that the happiness and prosperity of à commercial country like ours would be best promoted by peace; which he accordingly maintained with credit, during a very long period *.” Making due allowance for the fallacy of these vulgar complaints, it is undoubtedly one of the noblest productions in our language, both for sentiment and expression. 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 wrote with the spirit and energy of a moral poet, and a sharp
* Boswell's Life, &c. vol. i, p. 102.
censor of the times. Boileau had imitated the same' satire with great success, applying it to Paris; but an attentive comparison will satisfy every reader that he is much excelled by Johnson. Oldham had also imitated it, and applied it to London ; but there is scarcely any coincidence between the two performances, though upon the very same subject. : · In the course of the protracted opposition maintained by the Tories, under the popular denomination of the country party, against the long and peaceable administration of Walpole, Mr Cave conceived the thought of enriching his magazine by the speeches in Parliament. In January 1736 he began to gratify his readers with as much of this kind of intel. ligence as it was possible to procure, or safe to communicate. The speeches for some time were brought home and digested by Guthrie*,
* Johnson, it is said, esteemed his fellow-labourer enough, to wish that his life should be written. He was descended of an ancient family in Scotland ; but having a small patrimony, he came to London, and employed his talents and learning as an “author by profession." His political writings, though now forgotten, must have been