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posed to their censure and their hatred; nor had he any reason to repent of the preference, for he found Mr. Pope a steady and unalienable friend almost to the end of his life.
About this time, notwithstanding his avowed neutrality with regard to party, he published a panegyrick on Sir Robert Walpole, for which he was rewarded by him with twenty guineas, a sum not very large, if either the excellence of the performance, or the affluence of the patron be considered; bur greater than he afterwards obtained from a person of yet higher ran's, and more desirous in appearance of being distinguished as a 'patron of terature.
As he was very far from approving the conduct of Sir Robert Walpole, and in conversation mentioned him sometimes with acrimony, and generally with contempt; as he was one of those who were always zealous in their assertions of the justice of the late opposition, jealous of the rights of the people, and alarmed by the long-continued triumph of the court; it was natural to ask him what could induce him to employ his poetry in praise of that man who was, in his opinion, an enemy to liberty, and an oppressor of his country? He alledged, that he was then dependent upon the Lord Tyrconnel, who was an implicit follower of the ministry ; and that being enjoined by him, not without menaces, to write in praise of his leader, he had not resolution sufficient to sacrifice the pleasure of affluence to that of integrity.
On this, and on many occasions, he was ready to lament the misery of living at the tables of other men, which was his fate from the beginning to the end of his life ; for I know not whether he ever had, for three months together a settled habitation, in which he could claim a right of residence.
To this unhappy state it is just to impute much of the inconstancy of his conduct; for though a readiness to comply with the inclination of others was no part of his natural character, yet he was sometimes obliged to relax his obstinacy, and submit his own judgment, and even his virtue, to the government of those by whom he was supported : so that, if his miseries were sometimes the consequences of his faults, he ought not yet to be wholly excluded from compassion, because his faults were very often the effects of his misfortunes.
In this gay period * of his life, while he was surrounded by aflluence and pleasure, he published The Wanderer, a moral poem, of which the design is comprised in these lines :
I Ay all public care, all venal strife,
And more distinctly in the following passage :
By woe, the soul to daring action swells ;
Renown: whate'er men covet and caress. This performance was always considered by himself as his master-piece ; and Mr. Pope, when he asked his opinion of it, told him, that he read it once over, and was not displeased with it, that it gave him more pleasure at the second perusal, and delighted him still more at the third.
It has been generally objected to The Wanderer, that the disposition of the parts is irregular; that the design is obscure, and the plan perplexed; that the images, however beautiful, gucceed each other without order ; and that the whole performanee is not so much a regular fabrick, as a heap of shining materials thrown together by accident, which strikes rather with the solemn magnificence of a stupendous ruin, than the elegant grandeur of a finished pile.
This criticism is universal, and therefore it is reasonable to believe it at least in a great degree just; but Mr. Savage was always of a contrary opinion, and thought his drift could only be missed by negligence or stupidity, and that the whole plan was regular, and the parts distinct.
It was never denied to abound with strong representations of nature, and just observations upon life; and it may easily be observed, that most of his pictures have an evident tendency to illustrate his first great position, “ that “good is the consequence of evil.” The sun that burns up the mountains, fructifies the vales; the deluge that rushes down the broken rocks with dreadful impetuosity, is separated into purling brooks; and the rage of the hurricane purifies the air.
Even in this poem he has not been able to forbear one touch upon the cruelty of his mother, which, though remarkably delicate and tender, is a proof how deep an impression it had upon his mind.
This must be at least acknowledged, which ought to be thought equivalent to many other excellencies, that this poem can promote no other pur poses than those of virtue, and that it is written with a very strong sense of the efficacy of religion. But
my province is rather to give the history of Mr. Savage's performances, than to display their beauties, or to obviate the criticisms which they have occasioned; and therefore I shall not dwell upon the particular passages which deserve applause: I shall neither shew the excellence of his descriptions, nor expatiate on the terrific portrait of suicide, nor point out the artful touches, by which he has distinguished the intellectual features of the Tebels, who suffer death in his last canto. It is however, proper to observe,
• Vol. I.
that Mr. Savage always declared the characters wholly fictitious, and with out the least allusion to any real persons or actions.
From a poem so diligently laboured, and so successfully finished, it might be reasonably expected that he should have gained considerable advantage: nor can it, without some degree of indignation and concern, be told that he sold the copy for ten gaineas, of which he afterwards returned two, that the two last sheets of the work might be reprinted, of which he had in his abscence intrusted the correction to a friend, who was too indolent to perform it with accuracy.
A supetstitious regard to the correction of his sheets was one of Mr. Savage's peculiarities: be often altere'l, revised, recurred to his first reading or punctuation and again adopted the alteration; he was dubious and irTesolute without end, as on a question of the last importance, and at last was seldom satisfied: the intrusion or omission of a comma was sufficient to discompose him, and he would lament an error of a single letter as a hea. vy calamity. In one of his letters relating to an impression of some verses, he remarks, that he had, with regard to the correction of the proof, " spell upon him;" and indeed the anxiety with which he dwelt upon the minutest and most trifling niceties deserved no other name than that of fascination.
That he sold so valuable a performance for so small a price, was not to be imputed either to necessity, by which the learned and ingenious are of ten obliged to submit to very hard conditions ; or to avarice, by which the booksellers are frequently incited to oppress that genius by which they are sunported; but to that intemperate desire of pleasure, and habitual slavery to his passions, which involved him in many perplexities. He happened at that time to be engaged in the pursuit of some :rifling gratification, and, be ing without money for the present occasion, sold his poem to the first bidder, and perhaps for the first price that was proposed, and would probably have been content with less, if less had been offered him,
This poem was addressed to the Lord Tyrconnel, not only in the first lines, but in a formal dedication filled with the highest strains of panegyrics, and the warme: i professions of gratitude, but by no means remarkable for delicacy of connexion or elegance of style. · These praises in a short time he found himself inclined to retract, heing discarded by the man on whom he had bestowed them, and whom he then immediately discovered not to have deserved them. Of this quarrel, hich every day made more bitter, Lord Tyrconnel and Mr. Savage assigned very different reasons, which might perhaps ali in reality concur, though they were not all convenient to be alledged by either party. Lord Tyrconnel affirmed, that it was the constant practice of Mr. Savage to enter a tavern with any company that proposed it, drink the most expensive wines with great profusion, and when the reckoning was demanded, to be withour money : if, as it often happened, his company were willing to defray
his part, the affair ended, without any ill consequences ; but, if they were refractory, and expected that the wine should be paid for by him that drank it, his method of composition was, to take them with him to his own apartment, assume the government of the house, and order the butler in an imperious manner to set the best wine in the cellar before his company, who often drank till they forgot the respect due to the house in which they were entertained, indulged themselves in the utmost extravagance of merriment, practised the most licentious frolicks, and committed all the outrages of drunkenness.
Nor was this the only charge which Lord Tyrconnel brought against liim : Having given him a collection of valuable books, stamped with his own arms, he had the mortification to see them in a short time exposed to sale upon the stalls, it being usual with Mr. Savage, when he wanted a small sum, to take his books to the pawnbroker.
Whoever was acquainted with Mr. Savage easily credited both these accusations : for, having been obliged, from his first entrance into the world, to subsist upon expedients, affluence was not able to exalt him above them; and so much was he delighted with wine and conversation, and so long had he been accustomed to live by chance, that he would at any time go to the tavern without scruple, and trust for the reckoning to the liberality of his company, and frequently of company to whom he was very little known. This conduct indeed very seldom drew upon him those inconveniences that might be feared by any other person ; for his conversation was sa entertaining, and his address so pleasing, that few thought the pleasure which they received from himn dearly purchased, by paying for his wine. It was his peculiar happiness, that he scarcely ever found a stranger, whom he did not leave a friend; but it must likewise be added, that he had not often a friend long, without obliging him to become a stranger.
Mr. Savage, on the other hand, declared, that Lord Tyrcónnel * quarrelled with him, because he would not subtract from his own luxury and extravagance what he had promised to allow him, and that his resentment was only a plea for the violation of his promise : He asserted, that he had done nothing that ought to exclude him from that subsistence which he thought not so much a favour, as a debt, since it was offered him upon conditions which he had never broken; and that his only fault was, that he could not be supported with nothing.
He acknowledged, that Lord Tyrconnel often exhorted him to regulate his method of life, and not to spend all his nights in taverns, and that he appeared desirous that he would pass those hours with him, which he so freely bestowed upon others. This demand Mr. Savage considered as a censure of his conduct, which he could never patiently bear, and which,
* His expression in one of his letters was, “ that Lord Tyrconnel had involved his cstate, and there. " fore poorly sought an occasion to quartel with him." Dr. J. 3 1 2
in the latter and cooler parts of his life, was so offensive to him that he declared it as his resolution, “ to spurn that friend who should presume to dic“ tate to him ;' and it is not likely, that in his earlier years he received admonitions with more calmness.
He was likewise inclined to resent such expectations, as tending to infringe his liberty, of which he was very jealous, when it was necessary to the gratification of his passions ; and declared, that the request was still more unreasonable, as the company to which he was 10 have been confined was insupportably disagreeable. This assertion affords another instance of that inc insistency of his writings with his conversation, which was so often to be observed. He forgot how lavishly he had, in his Dedication to The Wanderer, extolled the delicacy and penetration, the humanity and generosity, the candour and politeness of the man, whom, when he no longer loved him, he declared to be a wretch without understanding, without goodnature and without justice; of whose name he thought himself obliged to leave no trace in any future edition of his writings; and accordingly blotted it out of that copy of The Wanderer which was in his hands.
During his continuance with the Lord Tyrconnel, he wrote The Triumph af Health ond Mirth, on the recovery of Lady Tyrconnel from a languishing illness. This performance is remarkable, not only for the gaiety of the ideas, and the melody of the numbers, but for the agreeable fiction upon which it is formed. Mirth, overwhelmed with sorrow for the sickness of hey favourite, takes a flight in quest of her sister Health, whom she finds reclined upon the brow of a lofty mountain, amidst the fragrance of perpetual spring, with the breezes of the morning sporting about her. Being solicited by her sister Mirth, she readily promises her assistance, flies away in a cloud, and impregnates the waters of Bath with new virtues, by which the sickness of Belinda is relieved.
As the reputation of his abilities, the particular circumstances of his birth and life, the splendour of his appearance, and the distinction which was for some time paid him by Lord Tyrconnel, intitled him to familiarity with persons of higher rank than those to whose conversation he had been before admitted; he did not fail to gratify that curiosity, which induced him to take a nearer view of those whom their birth, their employments, or their fortunes, necessarily place at a Jistance from the greatest part of mankind, and to examine whether their merit was magnified or diminished by the medium through which it was contemplated; whether the splendour with which they dazzled their admirers was inherent in themselves, or only reflected on them by the objects that surrounded them; and whether great men were selected for high stations, or high stations made great men.
For this purpose he took all opportunities of conversing familiarly with those who were most conspicuous at that time for their power or their influence; he watched their looser moments, and examined their domestic bebas vicur, with that accuteness which nature had given him, and which the un