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4 To these mournful narratives I am about to add the Life of
Richard Savage, a man whose writings entitle him to an eminent rank in the classes of learning, and whose misfortunes claim a degree of compassion not always due to the unhappy, as they were often the consequences of the crimes of others rather than
5 In the year 1697 Anne Countess of Macclesfield, having lived
for some time upon very uneasy terms with her husband", thought a public confession of adultery the most obvious and expeditious method of obtaining her liberty, and therefore declared that the child, with which she was then great, was begotten by the Earl Rivers? This, as may be imagined, made her husband no less desirous of a separation than herself, and he prosecuted his design in the most effectual manner; for he applied not to the ecclesiastical courts for a divorce, but to the parliament for an act, by which his marriage might be dissolved, the nuptial contract totally annulled, and the children of his wife illegitimated ? This act, after the usual deliberation, he obtained, though without the approbation of some, who considered marriage as an affair only cognizable by ecclesiastical judges *; See Appendix GG.
The following protest is registered ? See Appendix HH.
in the books of the House of Lords: 3 • The want of male issue [to the
Dissentient. Earl of Macclesfield] was the occasion 'Because we conceive that this is of engaging two eminent Peers, Duke the first bill of that nature that hath of Hamilton and Lord Mohun, in a passed, where there was not a divorce duel in which they had the misfortune first obtained in the Spiritual Court; to kill each other.' Life of Savage, which we look upon as an ill precedent, 1727, p. 4:
and may be of dangerous consequence [This duel was fought in Hyde in the future. Park on Nov. 15, 1712.
*HALIFAX. ROCHESTER.' Swift, iii. 61. The two peers had
NOTE BY JOHNSON, married descendants of the first Earl 'The canon law, which the comof Macclesfield. In 1702, through mon law follows in this case, deems the failure of the Earl's male heirs, so highly and with such mysterious his descendants in the female line reverence of the nuptial tie, that it became co-heirs. There were com will not allow it to be unloosed for plicated disputes concerning the any cause whatsoever that arises Macclesfield real estate. Cokayne's after the union is made. ... With us Complete Peerage. An affront given in England adultery is only a cause by Mohun to Hamilton at a meeting of separation from bed and board... concerning the lawsuit was alleged to However, divorces a vinculo matrihave been the immediate cause of the monii, for adultery, have of late years duel.]
been frequently granted by act of * This year was made remarkable parliament. BLACKSTONE, Com. i. by the dissolution of a marriage 441. solemnized in the face of the church.' In 1694 the Duke of Norfolk had SALMON'S Review of Hist. of Eng. moved for a similar Act. All the 1724, ii. 89.
bishops who had been made during
and on March 3d' was separated from his wife, whose fortune, which was very great, was repaid her ?, and who having, as well as her husband, the liberty of making another choice, was in a short time married to Colonel Brett 3.
While the Earl of Macclesfield was prosecuting this affair his 6 wife was, on the roth of January, 1697–84, delivered of a son, and the Earl Rivers, by appearing to consider him as his own, left none any reason to doubt of the sincerity of her declaration ; for he was his godfather, and gave him his own name, which was by his direction inserted in the register of St. Andrew's parish in Holborn 5, but unfortunately left him to the care of his mother, whom, as she was now set free from her husband, he probably imagined likely to treat with great tenderness the child that had contributed to so pleasing an event. It is not indeed easy to discover what motives could be found to overbalance that natural affection of a parent, or what interest could be promoted by neglect or cruelty. The dread of shame or of poverty, by which some wretches have been incited to abandon or to murder their children, cannot be supposed to have affected a woman who had proclaimed her erimes and solicited reproach, and on whom the clemency of the legislature had undeservedly bestowed a fortune', which would have been very little diminished by the expences which the care of her child could have brought upon her. It was therefore not likely that she would be wicked without temptation, that she would look upon her son from his birth with a kind of resentment and abhorrence, and, instead of supporting,
the present reign (William and and enjoy to her and her heirs £500 Mary's) were of opinion that a second per annum for ever, and £250 per marriage in that case was lawful ...; annum after her mother's decease. but all the bishops that had been 'Tis said the son she had during her made by the two former kings elopement goes by the name of (Charles II and James II] were of an Savage, and supposed father the other opinion.' BURNET, Hist.iii. 140. Earl of [sic] Rivers.' Luttrell's
Halifax was William Savile, Mar Brief Hist. Relation, 1857, iv. 350. quis of Halifax, and Rochester was See also T. Salmon's Review of Hist. Lawrence Hyde, Earl of Rochester. of Eng. 1724, ii. 89.
* The Bill passed the Lords on 3 See Appendix II. March 3, 1697-8, the Commons on Johnson's authority for this date March 15, and obtained the Royal (a wrong one, see Appendix JJ) was Assent on April 2. Lords' Journals, the Life of Savage, 1727, p. 5. xi. 224, 256 ; Commons' Journals, xii. s See Appendix JJ. 160.
6 It was apparently the fortune she · Luttrell recorded on March 3, had brought her husband on marriage 1697-8, that by a clause added to that was returned to her. N. & . the bill of divorce 'she shall have
2 S. vi. 362.
assisting, and defending him, delight to see him struggling with misery; or that she would take every opportunity of aggravating his misfortunes and obstructing his resources, and with an implacable and restless cruelty continue her persecution from the
first hour of his life to the last 1. 7 But whatever were her motives, no sooner was her son born
than she discovered a resolution of disowning him; and in a very short time removed him from her sight by committing him to the care of a poor woman, whom she directed to educate him as her own, and injoined never to inform him of his true
parents ? 8 Such was the beginning of the life of Richard Savage. Born
with a legal claim to honour and to affluence he was in two months illegitimated by the parliament 3 and disowned by his mother, doomed to poverty and obscurity, and launched upon the ocean of life only that he might be swallowed by its quick
sands or dashed upon its rocks. 9 His mother could not indeed infect others with the same
cruelty. As it was impossible to avoid the inquiries which the curiosity or tenderness of her relations made after her child, she was obliged to give some account of the measures that she had taken ; and her mother, the Lady Mason", whether in approbation of her design or to prevent more criminal contrivances,
* At the trial it was proved that Her eyes shed mercy wheresoe'er she had shown great fondness for they shine, her infant daughter, and when the And her soul melts at every woechild died had sent for a lock of its but mine.' hair. A woman moreover deposed The poet with impudent hypocrisy about her second confinement that continues : she often heard the gentlewoman But oh! whatever cause has mov'd wish the child to be a boy, and was her hate, mightily pleased when she heard it Let me but sigh in silence at my fate.' was a boy.' N. & l. 2 S. vi. 363. Savage's Works, 1777, Preface, p. 22;
Savage, it is clear, had a great Aaron Hill's Works, iv. 52. difficulty to contend with in Mrs. · Life of Savage, p. 5. Brett's general characterfor kindness. 3 The child was born in Jan. 1696-7, He met it by admitting it. In The and illegitimated in March 1697-8. Plain Dealer, No. 28 (post, SAVAGE, Ante, SAVAGE, 6 n. 4; Appendix JJ. 59), he is said to have given her Life of Savage, p.6. She was the
a character for humanity with wife of Sir Richard Mason, of Sutton, regard to the rest of the world.' In Surrey. N. & l.2 S. vi. 361. Luttrell the same number he, or Aaron Hill recorded on Feb. 20, 1680-1:The in his name, writes of her :
King hath ... retrench't his family, 'Yet has this sweet neglecter of Sir Stephen Fox and Sir Richard my woes
Mason maintaining it for 12,000l. The softest, tend'rest breast that per ann.' Brief Hist. Relation, 1857, pity knows.
engaged to transact with the nurse, to pay her for her care, and to superintend the education of the child.
In this charitable office she was assisted by his godmother 10 Mrs. Lloyd, who, while she lived, always looked upon him with that tenderness, which the barbarity of his mother made peculiarly necessary; but her death, which happened in his tenth year, was another of the misfortunes of his childhood : for though she kindly endeavoured to alleviate his loss by a legacy of three hundred pounds, yet, as he had none to prosecute his claim, to shelter him from oppression, or call in law to the assistance of justice, her will was eluded by the executors, and no part of the money was ever paid'.
He was, however, not yet wholly abandoned. The Lady 11 Mason still continued her care, and directed him to be placed at a small grammar-school near St. Alban's ?, where he was called by the name of his nurse, without the least intimation that he had a claim to any other.
Here he was initiated in literature ?, and passed through several 12 of the classes, with what rapidity or what applause cannot now be known. As he always spoke with respect of his master, it is probable that the mean rank, in which he then appeared, did not hinder his genius from being distinguished, or his industry from being rewarded ; and if in so low a state he obtained distinction and rewards, it is not likely that they were gained but by genius and industry.
It is very reasonable to conjecture that his application was 13 equal to his abilities, because his improvement was more than
I'To his own mother he has not change of name by a second marriage. been the least obliged for his educa Moreover in the first fourteen years tion, but to her mother, the Lady after the birth there is no will in Mason; she committed him to the either name 'on the register of the care of Mrs. Lloyd, his godmother, Archbishop's Court at Doctors' Comwho, dying before he was ten years mons.' Lady Mason lived till 1717, old, out of her tender regard left him when her grandson, if he survived, a legacy of £300, which was em was twenty. In the next paragraph bezzled by her executors.' JACOB, we are told that she still continued Poet. Reg. i. 298; Life,p.6. Savage her care.' "Why,' asks Mr. Thomas, varied his story.
did he not prosecute his claim to To Mrs. Carter he wrote in 1739 : the legacy?' N. & l. 2 S. vi. 425-6, "I lost her when I was but seven years 2 'He was sent to a little Grammar of age.' Pennington's Carter, i. 59. School at St. Alban's.' Life, p. 6.
Mr. Thomas has shown that the 3 In The Plain Dealer, No. 28, he child's godmother was not Mrs. Lloyd, is described as having been without but Mrs. Ousley. As Mr. Ousley the advantage of friends, fortune or lived till 1714 there had been no education.
proportioned to the opportunities which he enjoyed; nor can it be doubted that if his earliest productions had been preserved, like those of happier students, we might in some have found vigorous sallies of that sprightly humour which distinguishes The Author to be let', and in others strong touches of that ardent
imagination which painted the solemn scenes of The Wanderer 2. 14 While he was thus cultivating his genius, his father, the Earl
Rivers, was seized with a distemper, which in a short time put an end to his life. He had frequently inquired after his son, and had always been amused with fallacious and evasive answers; but, being now in his own opinion on his death-bed, he thought it his duty to provide for him among his other natural children, and therefore demanded a positive account of him, with an importunity not to be diverted or denied. His mother, who could no longer refuse an answer, determined at least to give such as should cut him off for ever from that happiness which competence affords, and therefore declared that he was dead * ; which is perhaps the first instance of a lie invented by a mother to deprive her
' Post, SAVAGE, 102.
* In 1719 Jacob stated that 'some Post, SAVAGE, 117.
unfair methods had been put in 3 He died Aug. 18, 1712. John- practice to deceive Earl Rivers by son's Works, viii. 101 n. Swift wrote a false report of his son's death.' to Stella on Oct. 9, 1712:— Did Poet. Reg. i. 297. In 1724 this stateI tell you of Lord Rivers's will? He ment was enlarged :--Oftwo fathers has left legacies to about twenty whom he might have claimed, both paltry old whores by name, and not of them noble, he lost the title of the a farthing to any friend, dependant, one, and a provision from the other's or relation : he has left from his only pity by the means alone of this child, Lady Barrymore, her mother's mother. The Plain Dealer, No. 28. estate, and given the whole to his In 1727, in the Life, p. 7, this story heir-male, a popish priest, a second was again enlarged: It was while cousin, who is now Earl Rivers, and he was at this school that Earl Rivers whom he used in his life like a foot died, who had several times made man. After him it goes to his chief enquiry after him, but could never wench and bastard.... I loved the get any satisfactory account of him; man, but detest his memory' Works, and when on his death-bed he more iii. 52. Swift described him as 'an strenuously demanded to know what arrant knave in common dealings, was become of him, in order to make and very prostitute.' Ib. xii. 227. him a partaker in the distribution of See also ib. ii. 103, 448.
that very handsome estate he left The editor of The Wentworth among his natural children, he was Papers (p. 300) states that “from positively told he was dead. Thus another letter written about this time was he, whilst (as he expressed it him(1712) we gather that Lord Rivers self) legally the son of one Earl, and left his mistress, Mrs. Colliton, £2,500 naturally the son of another, by the a year for life, his natural daughter management of his own mother de£10,000, and £500 a year to “Mrs. nied the benefit of belonging to either Oldfield the Player."' For Mrs. Old of them. There is no mention of the field see post, SAVAGE, 42.
£6,000 of the next paragraph.