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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 bis design in the most effectual manner ; for he applied not to the ecclesiástical courts for a divorce, but to the parliament for an act, by which his marriage might be dissolved, the nuptial contract 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 *; 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 Bretr.
While the eart of Macclesfield was prosecuting this affair, his wife was, on the 10th of January 1697-8, 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 god-father, and gave him his own name, which was by his direction inserted in the register of St. Andrew's parish in Holborn, 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 over-balance 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 claimed her crimes 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, 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.
* This year was made remarkable by the dissolution of a marriage solemnized in the face of the church. SALMON's Revi2w. The following protest is registered in the books of the House of Lords.
Dissentient. Because that we conceive that this is the first bill of that nature that hath passed, where there was not a divorce first obtained in the Spiritual Court ; which we look upon as an ill precedent, and may be of dangerous consequence in the future.
3 F 2
But what ever 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.
Such was the beginning of the life of Richard Savage. Born with a legal claim to honour and to afluence, he was in two months illegitimated by the parliament, 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 quicksands, os dashed upon its rocks.
His mother could not indeed infect others with the same cruelty. As it was impossible to avoid the inquiries wbich the curiosity or tenderness of her relations made after her child, she was obliged to give some account of the. measures she had taken ; and her Mother, the Lady Mason, whether in approbation of her design, or to prevent more criminal contrivances, 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 Mrs. Lloyd, who, while she lived, alırays 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 sheltér 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 Mason still continued her care, and directed him to be placed at a small grammarschool 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 of the classes, with what rapidity or with 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 equal to his abilities, because his improvement was more than 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 imagination which painted the solemn scenes of The Wanderer.
While he was thus cultivating his genius, his father the Earl of 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 not 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 lye invented by a mother to deprive her son of a provision which was designed him by another, and which she could not expect herself, though he should lose it.
This was therefore an act of wickedness which could not be defeated, because it could not be suspected; the Earl did not imagine there could exist in a human form a mother that would ruin her son without enriching herself, and therefore bestowed upon some other person six thousand pounds, wbich he had in his will bequeathed to Savage.
The same cruelty which incited his mother to intercept this provision which had been intended him, prompted her in a short time to another project, a project worthy of such a disposition. She endeavoured to rid herself from the danger of being at any time made known to him, by sending him secretly to the American plantationst.
By whose kindness this scheme was counteracted, or by vhose interposition she was induced to lay aside her design, I know not; it is not improbable that the Lady Mason might persuade or compel her to desist, or perhaps she could not easily find accomplices wicked enough to concur in so cruel an action; for it may be conceived, that those who had by a long gradation of guilt hardened their hearts against the sense of common wickedness, would yet be shocked at the design of a mother to expose her son to slavery and want, to expose him without interest, and without provocation ; and Savage might on this occasion find protectors and advocates among those who had long traded in crimes, and whom compassion had never touched before.
Being hindered, by whatever means, from banishing him into another country, she formed soon after a scheme for burying him in poverty and obscurity in his own; and that his station of life, if not the place of his residence, might keep him for ever at a distance from her, she ordered him to be placed with a shoe-maker in Holborn, that, after the usual time of trial, he might become his apprentice t.
It is generally reported, that this project was for some time successful, and that Savage was employed at the awl longer than he was willing to confess; nor was it perhaps any great advantage to him, that an unexpected discovery determined him to quit his occupation.
* He died 18 Aug. 1712.
E. Savage's Preface to his Miscellany.
About this time his nurse, who had always treated him as her own son ; died; and it was natural for him to take care of those effects which by her death were, as he imagined, become his own: he therefore went to her house, opened her boxes, and examined her papers, among which he found some letters written to her by the Lady Mason, which informed him of his birth, and the reasons for which it was concealed.
He was no longer satisfied with the employment which had been allotted him, but thought he had a right to share the affuence of his mother; and therefore without scruple applied to her as her son, and made use of every art to awaken her tenderness, and attract her regard. But neither his letters, nor the interposition of those friends which his merit or his distress procured him, made any impression upon her mind. She still resolved to neglect, though she could no longer disown him.
It was to no purpose that he frequently solicited her to admit him to see her; she avoided him with the most vigilant precaution, and ordered him to be excluded from her house, by whomsoever he inight be introduced, and what reason soever he might give for entering it.
Savage was at the same time so touched with the discovery of his real mother, that it was his frequent practice to walk in the dark evenings * for several hours before her door, in hopes of seeing her as she might come by accident to the window, or cross her apartment with a candle in her hand.
But all his assiduity and tenderness were without effect, for he could neither sosten her heart, nor open her hand, and was reduced to the utmost miseries of want, while he was endeavouring to awaken the affection of a mother. He was therefore obliged to seek some other means of support; and having no profession, became by necessity an author.
At this time the attention of the literary world was engrossed by the Bangorian controversy, which filled the press with pamphlets, and the coffeehouses with disputants. Of this subject, as most popular, he made choice for his first attempt, and, without any other knowledge of the question than he had casually collected from conversation, published a poem against the Bishop t.
What was the success or merit of this performance, I know not; it was probably lost among the innumerable pamphlets to which that dispute gave occasion. Mr. Savage was himself in a little time ashamed of it, and endeavoured to suppres; at, by destroying all the copies that he could collect.
He then attempted a more gainful kind of writing t, and in his eighteenth year offered to the stage a comedy borrwed from a Spanish plot, which was
* See the Plain Dealer.
Jacob's Lives of the Dramatick Poers. Dr. J.
refused by the players, and was therefore given by him to Mr. Bullock, who, having more interest, made some slight alterations, and brought it upon the stage, under the title of * WOMAN'S A RIDDLE, but allowed the unhappy author no part of the profit.
Not discouraged however at his repulse, he wrote two years afterwards Love in A Veil, another come's, borrowed likewise from the Spanish, but with little better success than before : though it was received and acted, yet it appeared so late in the year, that the author obtained'no other advantage from it than the acquaintance of Sir Richard Steele, and Mr. Wilks, by whom he was pitied, caressed and relieved.
Sir Richard Steele, having declared in his favour with all the ardour of benevolence which constituted his character, promoted his interest with the utmost zeal, related his misfortunes, applauded his merit, took all the opportunities of recommending him, and asserted, that “ the inhumanity of ci his mother had given him a right to find every good man his father t.”
Nor was Mr. Savage admitted to his acquaintance only, but to his confidence, of which he sometimes related an instance too extraordinary to be omitred, as it affords a very just idea of his patron's character.
He was once desired by Sir Richard, with an air of the utmost importance, to come very early to his house the next morning. Mr. Savage came as he had promised, found the chariot at the door, and Sir Richard waiting for him, and ready to go out. What was intended, and whither they were to go, Savage cou'' not conjecture, and was not willing to enquire ; but · immediately seated himself with Sir Richard. The coachman was ordered to drive, and they hurried with the utmost expedition to Hyde-Park Corner, where they stopped at a petty tavern, and retired to a private room. Sir Richard then informed him, that he intended to publish a pamphlet, and that he had desired him to come thither that he might write for him. He soon sat down to the work. Sir Richard dictated, and Savage wrote, till the dinner that had been ordered was put upon the table. Savage was surprized at the meanness of the entertainment, and after some hesitation ventured to ask for wine, which Sir Richard, not without reluctance, 'ordered to be brought. They then finished their dinner, and proceeded in their pamphlet, which they concluded in the afternoon.
Mr. Savage then imagined his task over, and expected that Sir Richard would call for the reckoning and return home: but his expectations deceived him, for Sir Richard told him, that he was without money, and that the pamphlet must be sold before the dinner could be paid for ; and Savage was therefore obliged to go and offer their new production to sale for two guineas, which with some difficulty he obtained. Sir Richard then returned
* This play was printed first in 8vo ; and afterwards in 12mo. the fifth edition. Dr. J. of Plain Dealer.