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and such a great bushy uncombed wig as he constantly wore, to the sight of Mr. Browne, whom he found fitting at the upper end of a long table, in a cloud of tobacco-smoke, had his curiosity gratified.
Johnson saw very clearly those offensive particulars that made a part of Cave's character ; but, as he was one of the most quick-lighted men I ever knew in discovering the good and amiable qualities of others, a faculty which he has displayed, as well in the life of Cave, as in that of Savage, printed among his works, so was he ever inclined to palliate their defects; and, though he was above courting the patronage of a man, whom, in respect of his mental endowments he considered as his inferior, he difdained not to accept it, when tendered with any degree of complacency.
And this was the general tenor of Johnson's behaviour; for, though his character through life was marked with a roughness that approached to ferocity,
it was in the power of almost every one to charm him ; into mildness, and to render him gentle and placid,
and even courteous, by such a patient and respectful attention as is due to every one, who, in his discourse, signifies a desire either to instruct or delight. Bred to no profession, without relations, friends, or interest, Johnson was an adventurer in the wide world, and had his fortunes to make: the arts of insinuation and address were, in his opinion, too Now in their operation to answer his purposes and, he rather chose to display his parts to all the world, at the risque of being thought arrogant, than to wait for the affistance of such friends as he could make, or the patronage of some individual that had power or influence, and who might have the kindness to take him by the hand, and
lift him into notice. With all that asperity of manners with which he has been charged, and which kept at a distance many, who, to my knowledge, would have been glad of an intimacy with him, he possessed the affections of pity and compassion in a most eminent degree. In a mixed company, of which I was one, the conversation turned on the peftilence which raged in London, in the year 1665, and gave occasion to Johnson to speak of Dr. Nathanael Hodges, who, in the height of that calamity, continued in the city, and was almost the only one of his profession that had the courage to oppose the endeavours of his art to the spreading of the contagion. It was the hard fate of this person, a short time after, to die a prisoner for debt, in Ludgate : Johnson related this circumstance to us, with the tears ready to start from his eyes; and, with great energy said, ' Such a man would not have been
suffered to perish in these times.'
It seems by the event of this first expedition, that Johnson came to London for little else than to look about him: it afforded him no opportunity of forming connections, either valuablein chemselves, or available to any future purpose of his life. Mr. Pope had seen and commended his translation of the Messiah; but Johnson had not the means of access to him; and, being a stranger to his person, his spirit would not permit him to solicit so great a favour from one, who must be supposed to have been troubled with such kind of applications. With one person, however, he commenced an intimacy, the motives to which, at first view, may probably seem harder to be accounted for, than any one particular in his life. This person was Mr. Richard Savage, whose misfortunes, together with his vices, had driven him to St. John's gate, and
thereby introduced him to the acquaintance of Johnson, which, founded on his part in compassion, foon improved into friendship and a mutual communication of sentiments and counsels. The history of this man is well known by the life of him written by Johnson; which, if in no other respect valuable, is curious, in that it gives to view a character self-formed, as owing nothing to parental nurture, and scarce any thing to moral tuition, and describes a mind, in which, as in a neglected garden, weeds, without the least obstruction, were suffered to grow into luxuriance: nature had endowed him with fine parts, and those he cultivated as well as he was able; but his mind had received no moral culture, and for want thereof, we find him to have been a stranger to humility, gratitude, and those other virtues that tend to conciliate the affections of men, and insure the continuance of friendship.
It may be conjectured that Johnson was captivated by the address and demeanour of Savage, at his first approach; for it must be noted of him, that, though. he was always an adınirer of genteel manners, he at this time had not been accustomed to the conversation of gentlemen ; and Savage, as to his exterior, was, to a remarkable degree, accomplished: he was a handsome, well-made man, and very courteous in the modes of falutation. I have been told, that in the taking off his hat and disposing ic under his arm, and in his bow, he displayed as much grace as those actions were capable of; and that he understood the exercise of a gentleman's weapon, may be inferred from the use he inade of it in that rato encounter which is related in his life, and to which his greatest misfortunes were owing. These accomplishments,
and the ease and pleasantry of his conversation, were, probably, the charms that wrought on Johnson, and hid from his view those baser qualities of Savage, with which, as his historian, he has nevertheless been neceffitated to mark his character. The similarity of their circumstances might farther conduce to beget an unreserved confidence in each other; they had both felt the pangs of poverty and the want of patronage: Savage had let loose his resentment against the possessors of wealth, in a collection of poems printed about the year 1727, and Johnson was ripe for an avowal of the same sentiments: they seemed both to agree in the vulgar opinion, that the world is divided into two classes, of men of merit without riches, and men of wealth without merit; never confidering the possibility that both might concenter in the same person, just as when, in the comparison of women, we say, that virtue is of more value than beauty, we forget that many are possessed of both.
In speculations of this kind, and a mutual condolence of their fortunes, they passed many a melancholy hour, and those at a time when, it might be supposed, the reflection on them had made repose desirable: on the contrary, that very reflection is known to have interrupted it. Johnson has told me, that whole nights have been spent by him and Savage in conversations of this kind, not under the hospitable roof of a tavern, where warmth might have invigorated their spirits, and wine dispelled their care; bue in a perambulation round the squares of Westminster, St. James's in particular, when all the money they could both raise was less than fufficient to purchase for them the shel. ter and sordid comforts of a night cellar.
of the result of their conversation little can now be known, save, that they gave rise to thofe principles of patriotism, that both, for some years after, avowed; they both with the same eye saw, or believed they saw, that the then minister meditated the ruin of this country; that excise laws, standing armies, and penal statutes, were the means by which he meant to effect it; and, at the risque of their liberty, they were bent to oppose his measures ; they might poffibly have been encouraged by the success of Swift in his endeavours to obstruct the circulation of Wood's halfpence*, who was prompted by his patriotism to say, 'Give me pen, ' ink, and paper, and ensure me against prosecution, ' and I will engage to write down any ministry what( ever.'
But Savage's spirit was broken by the sense of his indigence, and the pressure of those misfortunes which his imprudence had brought on him, and Johnson was left alone to maintain the contest.
The character and manners of Savage were such, as leave us little room to think, that Johnson could profit by his conversation : whatever were his parts and accomplishments, he had no reading, and could furnish no intelligence to such a mind as Johnson's : his vagrant course of life had made him acquainted with the town and its vices; and though I am not warranted to say, that Johnson was infected with them, I have reason to think, that he reflected with as little approbation on the hours he spent with Savage as on any period of his life.
Doubtless there is in the demeanour and conyersation of some men a power that fascinates, and fufpends the operation of our own will: to this power in
. Of this contract I once heard Dr. Birch fay, it was one of the faireft ever made between a minister and an adventurer.