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Savage, which consisted in the gentleness of his manners, the elegance of his discourse, and the vivacity of his imagination, we must attribute the ascendant which he maintained over the affections of Johnson, and the inability of the latter to pursue the suggestions of his own superior understanding. To the purpose of this sentiment, I am tempted to relate a fact which Mr. Garrick once communicated to me in conversation, who, speaking of the irresistible charm of engaging manners, told me, that being an actor at Drury-lane theatre, under Mr. Fleetwood, the pam tentee thereof, whose extravagances rendered him incapable of fulfilling his engagements, his falary became deeply in arrear, and he began to feel the want of money: in answer to his many applications for
payment, he had obtained promises, and even oaths; but these had been so often broken, that pressed by necessity, and provoked by ill usage, he was determined to have recourse to law for payment: he how-ever thought it but right to declare his intention ; and, for that purpose, invited himself to breakfast with Fleetwood. It was on a Sunday,' said Mr. Garrick,' that he appointed to see me; he received
me great courtesy and affability, and entertained me for some hours with discourse, foreign to the subject of our meeting, but so bewitching in its
kind, that it deprived me of the power of telling ! him that he owed me fix hundred pounds, and that my necessities compelled me to demand it.'
The intimacy between Savage and Johnson continued till the beginning of the year 1738, when the distresses of the former, and the ceffation, by the death of Queen Caroline, of a pension, which, for some years, she had directed to be paid him, moved fome
of his friends to a subscription for his support, in a place so far distant from the metropolis, as to be out of the reach of its temptations; where he might beget new habits, and indulge himself in those exercises of his imagination, which had been the employment of his happiest hours. The place fixed on for his residence was Swansea in Wales; but as it was some time before the subscription could be completed, his retirement thither was retarded.
In this suspense of Savage’s fortunes, Johnson seems to have confirmed himself in a resolution of quarrelling with the administration of public affairs, and becoming a satirist on the manners of the times; and because he thought he saw a resemblance between his own and those of Rome in its decline, he chose to express his sense of modern depravity by an iinication of the third satire of Juvenal, in which, with great judgment, and no less asperity, he drew a parallel between the corruptions of each, and exemplified it by characters then subsisting. In it he anticipated the departure of his friend Thales, i. e. Savage, whom he describes as
resolv'd, from vice and London far, "To breathe, in distant fields, a purer
And, fix'd in Cambria's solitary shore, « Give to St. David one true Briton more.' To this exercise of his talent he was, probably, excited by the success of Mr. Pope, who had done the fume by some of the satires of Horace, and had yindicated, by the example of Dr. Donne, a divine, that species of writing, even in Ciristian times, from the inputation of maievolence and the want of that charity which is not easily provoked, and endureth all things.
The poem was finished, as appears by a manuscript note of the author in his own corrected copy, in 1738. While he was writing it, he lodged in an upper room of a house in Exeter-street, behind Exeter 'change, inhabited by one Norris, a stay-maker ; a particular which would have been hardly worth noticing, but that it, in fome measure, bespeaks his circumstances at the time, and accounts for his having, more than once, mentioned in the poem, and that with seeining abhorrence, the dungeons of the Strand. It is not unlikely that his aversion to such an abode was increased by the reflection on that distress, which by this time had brought his wife to town, and obliged her to participate in the inconveniences of a dwelling too obscure to invite resort, and to be a witness of the dif. ficulties with which he was struggling.
Having completed his poem, he looked round for a bookseller, to whom, with a likelihood of obtaining the value of it, he might treat for the sale of it. His friend Cave, in respect of publications, was a haberdasher of small wares; the greatest of his undertakings being a translation of Du Halde’s History of China, which was never completed.
Johnson thinking him a man for his purpose, made him an offer of his poem, in a letter in which, with great art, but without the least violation of truth, he conceals that himself was the author of it. The letter I here infert, as also another of his on the same subject.
When I took the liberty of writing to you a few 1 days ago, I did not expect a repetition of the same
• pleasure so soon, for a pleasure I shall always think
it to converse in any manner with an ingenious and ! candid man ; but having the inclosed poem < hands to dispose of for the benefit of the author (of I whose abilities I shall say nothing since I send you • his performance,) I believed I could not procure
moreadvantageous terms from any person than from you, who have so much distinguished yourself by
your generous encouragement of poetry, and whose • judgment of that art, nothing but your commendaition of my trife can give me any occasion to call
in question. I do not doubt but you will look over
this poern with another eye, and reward it in a diffe(rent manner from a mercenary bookseller, who (counts the lines he is to purchase, and considers no
thing but the bulk. I cannot help taking notice " that, besides what the author may hope for on ac
count of his abilities, he has likewise another claim ' to your regard, as he lies at present under very · disadvantageous circumstances of fortune. I beg, « therefore, that you will favour me with a letter
to•morrow, that I may know what you can afford " to allow him, that he may either part with it to
you, or find out (which I do not expect) some other way more to his fatisfaction.
· I have only to add, that I am sensible I have s transcribed it very coarsely, which, after having al
tered it, I was obliged to do. I will, if you please < to transmit the sheets from the press, correct it for
you, and will take the trouble of altering any stroke of satire which you may dislike. · By exerting on this occasion your usual generosity, you will not only encourage learning and relieve
. diftress, but (though it be in comparison of the • other motives of very small account) oblige in a very
sensible manner, Sir,
Monday, No. 6, Castle-street. • I am to return you thanks for the present you • were so kind to send me, and to intreat that you • will be pleased to inform me, by the Penny-Post, ' whether you resolve to print the poen.
you please to send it me by the post, with a note to · Dodfley, I will go and read the lines to him, that " we may have his consent to put his name in the • title page. As to the printing, if it can be ser im• mediately about, I will be so much the author's • friend, as not to content myself with mere solicita' tions in his favour. I propose, if my calculation be ' near the truth, to engage for the reimbursement of • all that you shall loose by an impression of goo, pro
vided, as you very generously propose, that the pro• fit, if any, be set aside for the author's use, excepting 'the present you made, which, if he be a gainer, it is • fit he lould repay. I beg you will let one of your
servants write an exact account of the expenceof such an impression, and send it with the poem, that I
may know what I engage for. I ain very sensible, • from your generosity onthisoccasion, of your regard
tolearning, even in its unhappiest state ; and cannot 'but think such a temper deserving of the gratitude
of those, who suffer so often from a contrary dispoGition.
"I am, Sir,