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in the latter and cooler parts of his life, was so offensive to him that he declared it as his resolution, “ to spurn that friend who should presume to dic“ tate to him ;” and it is not likely, that in his earlier years he received admonitions with more calmness.
He was likewise inclined to resent such expectations, as tending to infringe his liberty, of which he was very jealous, when it was necessary to the gratification of his passions ; and declared, that the request was still more unreasonable, as the company to which he was to have been confined was insupportably disagreeable. This assertion affords another instance of that inconsistency of his writings with his conversation, which was so often to be observed. Ile forgot how lavishly he had, in his Dedication to The 7Vanderer, extolled the delicacy and penetration, the humanity and genecosity, the candour and politeness of the man, whom, when he no longer loved him, he declared to be a wretch without understanding, without goodnature and without justice; of whose name he thought himself obliged to leave no trace in any future edition of his writings; and accordingly blotred it out of that copy of The Wanderer which was in his hands.
During his continuance with the Lord Tyrconnel, he wrote The Triumph of Health and Mirth, on the recovery of Lady Tyrconnel from a languishing illness. This performance is remarkable, not only for the gaiety of the ideas, and the melody of the numbers, but for the agreeable fiction upon which it is formed. Mirth, overwhelmed with sorrow for the sickness of her favourite, takes a fight in quest of her sister Health, whom she finds reclined upon the brow of a lofty mountain, amidst the fragrance of perpetual spring, with the breezes of the morning sporting about her. Being solicited by her sister Mirth, she readily promises her assistance, fies away in a cloud, and impregnates the waters of Bath with new virtues, by which the sickness of Belinda is relieved.
As the reputation of his abilities, the particular circumstances of his birth and life, the splendour of his appearance, and the distinction which was for some time paid him by Lord Tyrconnel, intitled him to familiarity with persons of higher rank than those to whose conversation he had been before admitted; he did not fail to gratify that curiosity, which induced him to take a nearer view of those whom their birth, their employments, or their fortunes, necessarily place at a distance from the greatest part of mankind, and 10 examine whether their merit was magnified or diminished by the medium through which it was contemplated; whether the splendour with which they dazzled their admirers was inherent in themselves, or only reflected on them by the objects that surrounded them ; and whether great men were selected for high stations, or high stations made great men.
For this purpose he took ail opportunities of conversing familiarly with those who were most conspicuous at that time for their power or their influence; he watched their looser moments, and examined their domestic behaviour, with that accuteness which nature had given him, and which the uncommon variety of his life had contributed to increase, and that inquisitiveness which must always be produced in a vigorous mind, by an absolute freedom from all pressing or domestick engagements.
His discernment was quick, and therefore he soon found in every person, and in every affair, something that deserved attention; he was sup, ported by others, without any care for himself, and was therefore at leisure to pursue his observations.
More circumstances to constitute a critick on human life could not easily concur ; nor indeed could any man, who assumed from accidental advantages more praise than he could justly claim for his real merit, admit any acquaintance more dangerous than that of Savage; of whom likewise it must be confessed, that abilities really exalted above the common level, or virtue refined from passion, or proof against corruption, could not easily find an abler judge, or a warmer advocate.
What was the result of Mr. Savage's enquiry, though he was not much accustomed to conceal his discoveries, it may not be entirely safe to relate, because the persons whose characters he criticised are powerful ; and power and resentment are seldom strangers ; nor would it perhaps be wholly just, because what he asserted in conversation might, though true in general, be heightened by some momentary ardour of imagination, and, it can be delivered only from memory, may be imperfectly represented; so that the picture at first aggravated, and then unskilfully copied, may be justly suspected to retain no great resemblance of the original.
It may however be observed, that he did not appear to have formed very elevated ideas of those to whom the administration of affairs, or the conduct of parties, has been intrusted; who have been considered as the advocates of the crown, or the guardians of the people ; and who have obtained the most implicit confidence, and the loudest applauses. Of one particular person, who has been at one time so popular as to be generally esteemed, and at another so formidable as to be universally detested, he observed, that his acquisitions had been small, or that his capacity was narrower, and that the whole range of his mind was from obscenity to politicks, and from
politicks to obscenity.
But the opportunity of indulging his speculations. on great characters was now at an end. He was banished from the table of Lord Tyrconnel, and turned again adrift upon the world, without prospect of finding quickly any other harbour. As prudence was not one of the virtues by which he was distinguished, he had made no provision against a misfortune, like this. And though it is not to be imagined but that the separation must for some time have been preceded by coldness, peevishness, or neglect, though it was undoubtedly the consequence of accumulated provocations on both sides ; yet every one that knew Savage will readily believe, that to him it was sudden as a stroke of thunder ; that, though he might have transiently suspected it, he had never sufered any thought so unpleasing to sink into his mind, but that he had driven it away by amusements, or dreams of future felicity and affluence, and had never taken any measures by which he might prevent a precipitation from plenty to indigence.
This quarrel and separation, and the difficulties to which Mr. Savage was exposed by them, were soon known both to his friends and enemies; nor was it long before he perceived, from the behaviour of both, how much is added to the lustre of genius by the ornaments of wealth.
His condition did not appear to excite much compassion; for he had not always been careful to use the advantages he enjoyed with that moderation which ought to have been with more than usual caution preserved by him, who knew, if he had reflected, that he was only a dependent on the bounty of another, whom he could expect to support him no longer than he endeavoured to preserve his favour by complying 'with his inclinations, and whom he nevertheless ser ar defiance, and was continually irritating by negligence and encroachments.
Examples need not be sought at any great distance to prove, that superiority of fortune has a natural tendency to kindle pride, and that pride seldom fails to exert itself in contempt and insult; and if this is often the effect of hereditary wealth, and of honours enjoyed only by the merits of others, it is some extenuation of any indecent triumphs to which this unhappy man may have been betrayed, that his prosperity was heightened by the force of novelty, and made more intoxicating by a sense of the misery in which he had so long languished, and perhaps of the insults which he had formerly borne, and which he might now think himself entitled to revenge. It is too common for those who have unjustly suffered pain, to inflict it likewise in their turn with the same injustice, and to imagine that they have a right to treat others as they have themselves been treated.
That Mr. Savage was too much elevated by any good fortune, is generally known; and some passages of his introduction to The Author to be let sufficently shew, that he did not w holly refrain from such satire as he afterwards thought very unjust, when he was exposed to it himself; for, when he was afterwards ridiculed in the character of a distressed poet, he very easily discovered, that distress was not a proper subject for merriment, or topick of invective. He was then able to discern, that if misery be the effect of virtue, it ought to be reverenced ; if of ill-fortune, to be pitied ; and if of vice; not to be insulted, because it is perhaps itself a punishment adequate to the crime by which it was produced. And the humanity of that man can deserve no panegyrick, who is capable of reproaching a criminal in the hands of the executioner.
But these reflections, though they readily occurred to him in the first and last parts of his life, were, I am afraid, for a long time forgotten; 'at least they were, like many other maxims, treasured up in his mind, rather for shew than use, and operated very little upon his conduct, however ele
gantly he might sometimes explain, or however forcibly he might inculcate them.
His degradation therefore from the condition which he had enjoyed with such wanton thoughtlessness, was considered by many as an occasion of triumph. Those who had before paid their court to him without success, soon returned the contempt which they had suffered ; and they who had received favours from him, for of such favours as he could bestow he was very liberal, did not always remember them. So much more certain are the effects of resentment than of gratitude: it is not only to many more pleasing to recollect those faults which place others below them, than those virtues by which they are themselves comparatively depressed: but it is likewise more easy to neglect, than to recompense ; and though there are few who will practise a laborious virtue, there will never be wanting multitudes that will indulge an easy vice.
Savage, however, was very little disturbed at the marks of contempt which his ill-fortune brought upon him, from those whom he never esteemed, and with whom he never considered himself as levelled by any calamities: and though it was not without some uneasiness that he saw some, whose friendship he valued, change their behaviour ; 'yet he observed their coldness without much emotion, considered them as the slaves of fortune and the worshippers of prosperity, and was more inclined to despise them, than to lament himself.
It does not appear that, after this return of his wants, he found mankind equally favourable to him, as at his first appearance in the world. His story, though in reality not less melancholy, was less affecting, because it was no longer new; it therefore procured him no new friends : and those that had formerly relieved him, thought they might now consign bim to others. He was now likewise considered by many rather as eriminal than as unhappy; for the friends of Lord Tyrconnel, and of his mother, were sufficiently industrious to publish his weaknesses, which were indeed very numerous ; and nothing was forgotten, that might make him either hateful or ridiculous.
It cannot but be imagined, that such representations of his faults must make great numbers less sensible of his distress; many, who had only an opportunity to hear one part, made no scruple to propagate the account which they received; many assisted their circulation from malice or revenge; and perhaps many pretended to credit them, that they might with a better grace withdraw their regard, or withhold their assistance.
Savage, however, was not one of those, who suffered himself to be injured without resistance, nor was less diligent in exposing the faults of Lord Tyrconnel, over whom he obtained at least this advantage, that he drove him, first to the practice of outrage and violence; for he was so much provoked by the wit and virulence of Savage, that he came with a number of attendants, that did no honour to his courage, to beat him at a coffee-house.
But it happened that he had left the place a few minutes ; and his lordship had, without danger, the pleasure of boasting how he would have treated him. Mr. Savage went next day to repay his visit at his own house ; but was prevailed on, by his domesticks, to retire without insisting upon see
Lord Tyrconnel was accused by Mr. Savage of some actions, which scarcely any provocations will be thought sufficiently to justify; such as seizing what he had in his lodgings, and other instances of wanton cruelty, by which he increased the distress of Savage, without any advantage to himself.
These mutual accusations were retorted on both sides, for many years, with the utmost degree of virulence and rage; and time seemed rather to augment than to diminish their resentment. That the anger of Mr. Savage should be kept alive, is not strange, because he felt every day the consequences of the quarrel ; but it might reasonably have been hoped, thai Lord Tyrconnel might have relented, and at length have forgot those provocations, which, however they might have once inflamed him, had not in reality much hurt him.
The spirit of Mr. Savage indeed never suffered him to solicit a reconciliation; he returned reproach for reproach, and insult for insult; his superiority of wit supplied the disadvantages of his fortune, and enabled him to form a party, and prejudice great numbers in his favour.
But though this might be some gratification of his vanity, it afforded very little relief to his necessities; and he was very frequently reduced to uncommon hardships, of which, however, he never made any mean or importunate complaints, being for med rather to bear misery with fortitude, than enjoy prosperity with moderation.
He now thought himself again at liberty to expose the cruelty of his mother; and therefore, I believe about this time published The Bastard, a poem remarkable for the vivacious sallies of thought in the beginning, where he makes a pompous enumeration of the imaginary advantages of base birth ; and the pathetick sentiments at the end, where he recourts the real calamities which he suffered by the crime of his parents.
The vigour and spirit of the verses, the peculiar circumstances of the author, the novelty of the subject, and the nctoriety of the story to which the allusions are made, procured this performance a very favourable reception; great numbers were immediately dispersed, and editions were multiplied with unusual rapidity.
One circumstance attended the publication, which Savage used to relate with great satisfaction. His mother, to whom the poem was with “ due “ reverence” inscribed, happened then to be at Bath, where she could not conveniently retire from censure, or conceal herself from observation; and no sconer did the reputation of the poem begin to spread, than she teard it repeated in all places of concourse, nor could she enter the assem