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foreign pleasures must be pursued, it would be perhaps of some benefit, since that pursuit must frequently be fruitless, if the practice of Savage could be taught, that folly might be an antidote to folly, and one fallacy be obviated by another. But the danger of this pleasing intoxication must not be concealed ; nor, indeed, can any one, after having observed the life of Savage, need to be cautioned against it. By imputing none of his miseries to himself, he continued to act upon the same principles, and to follow the same path ; was never made wiser by his sufferings, nor preserved by one misfortune from falling into another. He proceeded throughout his life to tread the same steps on the same circle ; always applauding his past conduct, or at least forgetting it, to amuse himself with phantoms of happiness, which were dancing before him ; and willingly turned his eyes from the light of reason, when it would have discovered the illusion, and shown him, what he never wished to see, his real state. He is even accused, after having lulled his imagination with those ideal opiates, of having tried the same experiment upon his conscience; and, having accustomed himself to impute all deviations from the right to foreign causes, it is certain that he was upon every occasion too easily reconciled to himself, and that he appeared very little to regret those practices which had impaired his reputation. The reigning error of his life was that he mistook the love for the practice of virtue, and was indeed not so much a good man as the friend of goodness.
This, at least, must be allowed him, that he always preserved a strong sense of the dignity, the beauty, and the necessity of virtue ; and that he never contributed deliberately to spread corruption amongst mankind. His actions, which were generally precipitate, were often blameable; but his writings, being the production of study, uniformly tended to the exaltation of the mind and the propagation of morality and piety. These
writings may improve mankind when his failings shall be forgotten; and therefore he must be considered, upon the whole, as a benefactor to the world. Nor can his personal example do any hurt, since whoever hears of his faults will hear of the miseries which they brought upon him, and which would deserve less pity had not his condition been such as made his faults pardonable. He may be considered as a child exposed to all the temptations of indigence, at an age when resolution was not yet strengthened by conviction, nor virtue confirmed by habit; a circumstance which, in his “Bastard,” he laments in a very affecting manner :
“No mother's care
“The Bastard,” however it might provoke or mortify his mother, could not be expected to melt her to compassion, so that he was still under the same want of the necessaries of life ; and he therefore exerted all the interest which his wit, or his birth, or his misfortunes could procure to obtain, upon the death of Eusden, the place of Poet Laureate, and prosecuted his application with so much diligence that the king publicly declared it his intention to bestow it upon him; but such was the fate of Savage that even the king, when he intended his advantage, was disappointed in his schemes ; for the Lord Chamberlain, who has the disposal of the laurel as one of the appendages of his office, either did not know the king's design, or did not approve it, or thought the nomination of the Laureate an encroachment upon his rights, and therefore bestowed the laurel upon Colley Cibber.
Mr. Savage, thus disappointed, took a resolution of applying to the queen, that, having once given him life, she would enable him to support it, and therefore
published a short poem on her birthday, to which he gave the odd title of “ Volunteer Laureate." The event of this essay he has himself related in the following letter, which he prefixed to the poem when he afterwards reprinted it in The Gentleman's Magazine, whence I have copied it entire, as this was one of the few attempts in which Mr. Savage succeeded.
“MR. URBAN,-In your Magazine for February you published the last Volunteer Laureate,' written on a very melancholy occasion, the death of the royal patroness of arts and literature in general, and of the author of that poem in particular : I now send you the first that Mr. Savage wrote under that title. This gentleman, notwithstanding a very considerable interest, being, on the death of Mr. Eusden, disappointed of the Laureate's place, wrote the following verses; which were no sooner published, but the late queen sent to a bookseller for them. The author had not at that time a friend either to get him introduced, or his poem presented at Court; yet, such was the unspeakable goodness of that princess, that, notwithstanding this act of ceremony was wanting, in a few days after publication Mr. Savage received a bank-bill of fifty pounds, and a gracious message from her Majesty, by the Lord North and Guilford, to this effect: "That her Majesty was highly pleased with the verses ; that she took particularly kind his lines there relating to the king ; that he had permission to write annually on the same subject; and that he should yearly receive the like present, till something better (which was her Majesty's intention) could be done for him.' After this he was permitted to present one of his annual poems to her Majesty, had the honour of kissing her hand, and met with the most gracious reception.
“Yours, &c." Such was the performance, and such its reception ; a reception which, though by no means unkind, was yet
not in the highest degree generous. To chain down the genius of a writer to an annual panegyric showed in the queen too much desire of hearing her own praises, and a greater regard to herself than to him on whom her bounty was conferred. It was a kind of avaricious generosity, by which flattery was rather purchased than. genius rewarded.
Mrs. Oldfield had formerly given him the same allowance with much more heroio intention : she had no other view than to enable him to prosecute his studies, and to set himself above the want of assistance, and was contented with doing good without stipulating for encomiums.
Mr. Savage, however, was not at liberty to make exceptions, but was ravished with the favours which he had received, and probably yet more with those which he was promised : he considered himself now as a favourite of the queen, and did not doubt but a few annual poems. would establish him in some profitable employment. He therefore assumed the title of “ Volunteer Laureate," not without some reprehensions from Cibber, who informed him that the title of “Laureate ” was a mark of honour conferred by the king, from whom all honour is derived, and which, therefore, no man has a right to bestow upon himself; and added that he might with equal propriety style himself a Volunteer Lord or Volunteer Baronet. It cannot be denied that the remark was just; but Savage did not think any title which was conferred upon Mr. Cibber so honourable as that the usurpation of it could be imputed to him as an instance of very exorbitant vanity, and therefore continued to write under the same title, and received every year the same reward. He did not appear to consider these encomiums as tests of his abilities, or as anything more than annual hints to the queen of her promise, or acts of ceremony, by the performance of which he was entitled to his pension, and therefore did not labour them with great diligence, or
print more than fifty each year, except that for some of the last years he regularly inserted them in The Gentleman's Magazine, by which they were dispersed over the kingdom.
Of some of them he had himself so low an opinion that he intended to omit them in the collection of poems for which he printed proposals, and solicited subscriptions ; nor can it seem strange that, being confined to the same subject, he should be at some times indolent and at others unsuccessful ; that he should sometimes delay a disagreeable task till it was too late to perform it well; or that he should sometimes repeat the same sentiment on the same occasion, or at others be misled by an attempt after novelty to forced conceptions and far-fetched images. He wrote indeed with a double intention, which supplied him with some variety ; for his business was to praise the queen for the favours which he had received, and to complain to her of the delay of those which she had promised : in some of his pieces, therefore, gratitude is predominant, and in some discontent; in some, he represents himself as happy in her patronage ; and, in others, as disconsolate to find himself neglected. Her promise, like other promises made to this unfortunate man, was never performed, though he took sufficient care that it should not be forgotten. The publication of his “Volunteer Laureate" procured him no other reward than a regular remittance of fifty pounds. He was not so depressed by his disappointments as to neglect any opportunity that was offered of advancing his interest. When the Princess Anne was married, he wrote a poem upon her departure, only, as he declared, “ because it was expected from him," and he was not willing to bar his own prospects by any appearance of neglect. He never mentioned any advantage gained by this poem, or any regard that was paid to it; and therefore it is likely that it was considered at Court as an act of duty, to which he was obliged by his dependence, and which it was