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then appeared did not hinder his genius from for it may be conceived, that those who had hz being distinguished, or his industry from being a long gradation of guilt hardened their hearts l'ewarded ; and if in so low a state he obtained against the sense of common wickedness, would distinction and rewards, it is not likely that yet be shocked at the design of a mother to exthey were gained but by genius and industry. pose her son to slavery and want, to expose him
It is very reasonable to conjecture, that his without interest, and without provocation; and application was equal to his abilities, because Savage might on this occasion find protectors his improvement was more than proportioned and advocates among those who had long traded to the opportunities which he enjoyed ; nor can in crimes, and whom compassion had never it be doubted, that if his earliest productions touched before. had been preserved, like those of happier stu- Being hindered, by whatever means, from dents, we might in some have found vigorous banishing him into another country, she formed sallies of that sprightly humour which distin- soon after a scheme for burying bim in poverty guishes “ The Author to be let," and in others and obscurity in his own; and that his station strong touches of that ardent imagination of life, if not the place of his residence, might which painted the solemn scenes of “ The Wan- keep him for ever at a distance from her, she derer.”
ordered him to be placed with a shoemaker in While he was thus cultivating his genius, his Holborn, that, after the usual time of trial, he father the Earl Rivers was seized with a dis- might become his apprentice. * temper, which in a short time put an end to It is generally reported, that this project was his life. * He had frequently inquired after his for some time successful, and that Savage was son, and had always been amused with falla- employed at the awl 'onger than he was willing cious and evasive answers; but, being now in to confess; nor was it perhaps any great advanhis own opinion on his deathbed, he thought tage to him that an unexpected discovery deit his duty to provide for him among his other termined him to quit his occupation. natural children, and therefore demanded a About this time his nurse, who had always positive account of him, with an importunity treated him as her own son, died; and it was not to be diverted or denied. His mother, who natural for him to take care of those effects could no longer refuse an answer, determined which by her death were, as he imagined, beat least to give such as should cut him off for ever come his own; he therefore went to her house, from that happiness which competence affords, opened her boxes, and examined her papers, and therefore declared that he was dead; which among which he found some letters written to is perhaps the first instance of a lie invented by a her by the Lady Mason, which informed him mother to deprive her son of a provision which of his birth, and the reasons for which it was was designed him by another, and which she concealed. could not expect herself, though he should lose it. He was no longer satisfied with the employ
This was therefore an act of wickedness ment which had been allotted him, but thought which could not be defeated, because it could not he had a right to share the affluence of his he suspected; the Earł did not imagine there mother; and therefore without scruple applied could exist in a human form a mother that to her as her son, and mađe use of every art to would ruin her son without enriching herself, awaken her tenderness, and attract her regard. and therefore bestowed upon some other person But neither his letters, or the interposition of six thousand pounds, which he had in his will those friends which his merit or his distress bequeathed to Savage.
procured him, made any impression upon her The same cruelty which incited his mother mind. She still resolved to neglect, though she to intercept this provision which had been in- could no longer disown him. tended him, prompted her in a short time to It was to no purpose that he frequently solianother project, a project worthy of such a dis- cited her to admit him to see her; she avoided position. She endeavoured to rid herself from him with the most vigilant precaution, and orthe dangers of being at any time made known dered him to be excluded from her house, by to him, by sending him secretly to the American whomsoever he might be introduced, and what plantations.t
reason soever he might give for entering it. By whose kindness this scheme was counter- Savage was at the same time so touched with acted, or by whose interposition she was in the discovery of his real mother, that it was his duced to lay aside her design, I know not: it is frequent practice to walk in the dark eveningst not improbable that the Lady Mason might for several hours before her door, in hopes of persuade or compel her to desist, or per- seeing her as she might come by accident to the haps she could not easily find accomplices window, or cross her apartment with a candle wicked enough to concur in so cruel an action; in her hand.
* He died Angust 18th, 1712.-R.
Savage's Preface to bis Miscellanios.
* Savage's Preface to his Miscellanies, + See the “ Plain Dealer."
But all his assiduity and tenderness were He was once desired by Sir Richard, with an without effect, for he could neither soften her air of the utmost importance, to come very heart nor open her hand, and was reduced to early to his house the next morning. Mr. Sathe utmost miseries of want, while he was en- vage came as he had promised, found the chadeavouring to awaken the affection of a mother. riot at the door, and Sir Richard waiting for He was therefore obliged to seek some other him, and ready to go out. What was intended, means of support: and, having no profession, and whither they were to go, Savage could not became by necessity an author.
conjecture, and was not willing to inquire; but At this time the attention of all the literary immediately seated himself with Sir Richard. world was engrossed by the Bangorian contro- The coachman was ordered to drive, and they versy which filled the press with pamphlets, hurried with the utmost expedition to Hydeand the coffee-houses with disputants. Of this Park Corner, where they stopped at a petty subject, as most popular, he made choice for his tavern, and retired to a private room. Sir first attempt, and without any other knowledge Richard then informed him, that he intended of the question than he had casually collected to publish a pamphlet, and that he had desired from conversation, published a poem against the him to come thither that he might write for Bishop. *
him. They soon sat down to the work. Sir What was the success or merit of this per- Richard dictated, and Savage wrote, till the formance I know not, it was probably lost dinner that was ordered was put upon the among the innumerable pamphlets to which table. Savage was surprised at the meanness that dispute gave occasion. Mr. Savage was
of the entertainment, and after some hesitation himself in a little time ashamed of it, and en- ventured to ask for some wine, which Sir Richdeavoured to suppress it, by destroying all the ard, not without reluctance, ordered to be copies that he could collect.
brought. They then finished their dinner, and He then attempted a more gainful kind of proceeded in their pamphlet, which they conwriting,t and in his eighteenth year offered to cluded in the afternoon. the stage a comedy borrowed from a Spanish Mr. Savage then imagined his task was over, plot, which was refused by the players, and was and expected that Sir Richard would call for therefore given by him to Mr. Bullock, who, the reckoning, and return home; but his exhaving more interest, made some slight altera- pectations deceived him, for Sir Richard told tions, and brought it upon the stage, under the him that he was without money, and that the title of “ Woman's a Riddle,”# but allowed pamphlet must be sold before the dinner could the unhappy Author no part of the profit. be paid for; and Savage was therefore obliged
Not discouraged however at his repulse, he to go and offer their new production for sale for wrote two years afterwards “ Love in a Veil,” two guineas, which with some difficulty he obanother comedy, borrowed likewise from the tained. Sir Richard then returned home, havSpanish, but with little better success than be- ing retired that day only to avoid his creditors, fore; for though it was received and acted, and composed the pamphlet only to discharge yet it appeared so late in the year, that the his reckoning. Author obtained no other advantage from it,
Mr. Savage related another fact equally unthan the acquaintance of Sir Richard Steele common, which, though it has no relation to and Mr. Wilks, by whom he was pitied, ca- his life, ought to be preserved. Sir Richard ressed, and relieved.
Steele having one day invited to his house a Sir Richard Steele, having declared in his fa- great number of persons of the first quality, vour with all the ardour of benevolence which they were surprised at the number of liveries constituted his character, promoted his interest which surrounded the table; and, after dinner, with the utmost zeal, related his misfortunes, when wine and mirth had set them free from applauded his merit, took all the opportunities the observation of rigid ceremony, one of them of recommending him, and asserted, that “ the inquired of Sir Richard, how such an expeninbumanity of his mother, had given him a sive train of domestics could be consistent with right to find every good man his father.”S
his fortune. Sir Richard very frankly conNor was Mr. Savage admitted to his ac- fessed, that they were fellows of whom he quaintance only, but to his confidence, of which would very willingly be rid: and being then he sometimes related an instance too extraor- asked why he did not discharge them, declared dinary to be omitted, as it affords a very just that they were bailiffs, who had introduced dea of his patron's character.
themselves with an execution, and whom, since
he could not send them away, he had thought • It was called “ The Battle of the Pamphlets."
it convenient to embellish with liveries, that Jacob's Lives of the Dramatic Poets.--Dr. J.
they might do him credit while they stayed. 1 This play was printed first in 8vo.; and after.
His friends were diverted with the expedient, wards in 12mo. the fifth edition.-Dr. J.
and by paying the debt discharged their attendØ “ Plain Dealer."-Dr. J.
ance, having obliged Sir Richard to promiso
that they should never again find him graced in the world, and perhaps less often in his pro. with a retinue of the same kind,
fession than in others. To be humane, generUnder such a tutor Mr. Savage was not likely ous, and candid, is a very high degree of meri: to learn prudence or frugality; and perhaps in any case, but those qualities deserve still many of the misfortunes which the want ot' greater praise, when they are found in that those virtues brought upon him in the following condition which makes almost every other man, parts of his life, might be justly imputed to so for whatever reason, contemptuous, insolent, unimproving an example.
petulant, selfish, and brutal. Nor did the kindness of Sir Kichard end in As Mr. Wilks was one of those to whom cacommon favours. He proposed to have estab- lamity seldom complained without relief, he lished him in some settled scheme of life, and naturally took an unfortunate wit into his proto have contracted a kind of alliance with him, tection, and not only assisted him in any casual by marrying him to a natural daughter on distresses, but continued an equal and steady whom he intended to bestow a thousand pounds. kindness to the time of his death. But, though he was always lavish of future By his interposition Mr. Savage once obtained bounties, he conducted his affairs in such a from his mother* fifty pounds, and a promise manner, that he was very seldom able to keep of one hundred and fifty more ; but it was the his promises, or execute his own intentions; fate of this unhappy man, that few promises and, as he never was able to raise the sum of any advantage to him were performed. His which he had offered, the marriage was delayed. mother was infected, among others, with the In the mean time he was officiously informed, general madness of the South Sea traffic; and, that Mr. Savage had ridiculed him; by which having been disappointed in her expectations, he was so much exasperated, that he withdrew refused to pay what perbaps nothing but the the allowance which he had paid him, and never prospect of sudden affluence prompted her to afterwards admitted him to his house.
promise. It is not indeed unlikely that Savage might Being thus obliged to depend upon the friend by his imprudence expose himself to the malice ship of Mr. 'Wilks, he was consequently an asof a talebearer; for his patron had many follies, siduous frequenter of the theatres ; and in a which, as his discernment easily discovered, his short time the amusements of the stage took imagination might sometimes incite him to such possession of his mind, that he never was mention too ludicrously. A little knowledge absent from a play in several years. of the world is sufficient to discover that such This constant attendance naturally procured weakness is very common, and that there are him the acquaintance of the players, and, few who do not sometimes, in the wantonness among others, of Mrs. Oldfield, who was so of thoughtless mirth, or the heat of transient much pleased with his conversation, and touchresentment, speak of their friends and benefaced with his misfortunes, that she allowed him a tors with levity and contempt, though in their settled pension of fifty pounds a year, which cooler moments they want neither sense of their was during her life regularly paid. kindness, nor reverence for their virtue: the fault therefore of Mr. Savage was rather negli- last hopes defeated, and he had no other prospect, gence than ingratitude. But Sir Richard must
than of the most deplorable poverty. But Mr. likewise be acquitted of severity, for who is
Wilks thought his performance, though not perfect,
at least worthy of some reward, and therefore of there that can patiently bear contempt, from
fered him benefit. This favour be improved with one whom he has relieved and supported, whose
so much diligence, that the house afforded him a establishment he has laboured, and whose in- considerable sum, with which he went to Leyden, terest he has promoted ?
applied bimself to the study of physic, and prose. He was now again abandoned to fortune cuted his design with so much diligence and success, without any other friend than Mr. Wilks; a
that, when Dr. Boerhaave was desired by the Czar man, who, whatever were his abilities or skill
ina to recommend proper persons to introduce into
Russia the practice and study of physic, Dr. Smith as an actor, deserves at least to be remembered
was one of those whom he selected. He had a for his virtues, * which are not often to be found
considerable pension settled on him at his arrival,
and was one of the chief physicians at the Russian * As it is a loss to mankind when any good action court-Dr. J. is forgotten, I shall insert another instance of Mr. A letter from Dr. Smith in Russia, to Mr. Wilks, Wilks's generosity, very little known. Mr. Smith, is printed in Chetwood's “ History of the Stage." a gentleman educated at Dublin, being hindered, by _R. an impediment in his pronunciation, from engaging This,” says Dr. Johnson, " I write upon the in orders, for which his friends designed him, left :redit of the author of his life, which was published his own country, and came to London in quest of in 1727 ; and was a small pamphlet, intended to employment, but found his solicitations fruitless, | plead his cause with the public while under sentence and his necessities every day more pressing. In of death for the murder of Mr. James Sinclair, at this distress he wrote a tragedy, and offered it to the Robivson's Coffee-house, at Charing Cross. Price players, by whom it was rejected. Thus were his od. Roberts."--C.
That this act of generosity may receive its with gratitude the humanity of one lady, whose due praise, and that the good actions of Mrs. name I am now unable to recollect, and to Oldfield may not be sullied by her general whom therefore I cannot pay the praises which character, it is proper to mention what Mr. she deserves for having acted well in opposition Savage often declared, in the strongest terms, to influence, precept, and example. that he never saw her alone, or in any other The punishment which our laws inflict upon place than behind the scenes.
those parents who murder their infants is well At her death he endeavoured to show his known, nor has its justice ever been contested; gratitude in the most decent manner, by wear- but, if they deserve death who destroy a child ing mourning as for a mother; but did not ce- in its birth, what pains can be severe enough lebrate her in elegies, * because he knew that for her who forbears to destroy him only to intoo great a profusion of praise would only have flict sharper miseries upon him; who prolongs revived those faults which his natural equity his life only to make him miserable; and who did not allow him to think less, because they exposes him, without care and without pity, to were committed by one who favoured him: but the malice of oppression, the caprices of chance, of which, though his virtue would not endea- and the temptations of poverty; who rejoices vour to palliate them, his gratitude would not to see him overwhelmed with calamities ; and suffer him to prolong the memory or diffuse the when his own industry or the charity of others
has enabled him to rise for a short time above In his “ Wanderer" he has indeed taken an his miseries, plunges him again into his former opportunity of mentioning her; but celebrates distress! her not for her virtue, but her beauty, an ex- The kindness of his friends not affording him cellence which none ever denied her; this is the any constant supply, and the prospect of imonly encomium with which he has rewarded proving his fortune by enlarging his acquainther liberality, and perhaps he has even in this ance necessarily leading him to places of exbeen too lavish of his praise. He seems to pense, he found it necessary* to endeavour have thought, that never to mention his bene- once more at dramatic poetry, for which he was factress would have an appearance of ingrati- now better qualified by a more extensive knowtude, though to have dedicated any particular ledge, and longer observation. But having performance to her memory would only have been unsuccessful in comedy, though rather for betrayed an officious partiality, that, without want of opportunities than genius, he resolved exalting her character, would have depressed now to try whether he should not be more forhis own.
tunate in exhibiting a tragedy. He had sometimes, by the kindness of Mr. The story which he chose for the subject, was Wilks, the advantage of a benefit, on which that of Sir Thomas Overbury, a story well occasions he often received uncommon marks adapted to the stage, though perhaps not far of regard and compassion; and was once told enough removed from the present age to admit by the Duke of Dorset, that it was just to con- properly the fictions necessary to complete the sider him as an injured nobleman, and that in plan; for the mind, which naturally loves truth, his opinion the nobility ought to think them- is always most offended with the violations of selves obliged, without solicitation, to take every those truths of which we are most certain; and opportunity of supporting him by their coun- we of course conceive those facts most certain, tenance and patronage. But he had generally which approach nearest to our own time. the mortification to hear that the whole interest Out of this story he formed a tragedy, which, of his mother was employed to frustrate his if the circumstances in which he wrote it be applications, and that she never left any ex- considered, will afford at once an uncommon pedient untried by which he might be cut off proof of strength of genius, and evenness of from the possibility of supporting life. The mind, of a serenity not to be ruffled, and an same disposition she endeavoured to diffuse imagination not to be suppressed. among all those over whom nature or fortune During a considerable part of the time in gave her any influence, and indeed succeeded which he was employed upon this performance, too well in her design: but could not always he was without lodging, and often without propagate her effrontery with her cruelty ; for, meat; nor had he any other conveniences for some of those, whom she incited against him, study than the fields or the streets allowed him; were ashamed of their own conduct, and boast- there he used to walk and form his speeches, ed of that relief which they never gave him. and afterwards step into a shop, beg for a few
In this censure I do not indiscriminately in moments the use of the pen and ink, and write Tolve all his relations; for he has mentioned down what he had composed upon paper which
he had picked up by accident. Chetwood, however, has printed a poem on her leath, which he ascribes to Mr. Savage. See “His
* In 1724. tory of the Stege," p. 206.- R.
If the performance of a writer thus distressed the mists which poverty and Cibber had been is not perfect, its faults ought surely to be im- able to spread over it, procured him the notice puted to a cause very different from want of and esteem of many persons eminent for their genius, and must rather excite pity than pro- rank, their virtue, and their wit. voke censure.
Of this play, acted, printed, and dedicated, But when under these discouragements the the accumulated profits arose to a hundred tragedy was finished, there yet remained the pounds, which he thought at that time a very labour of introducing it on the stage, an under- large sum, having never been master of so much taking, which, to an ingenuous mind, was in a before. very high degree vexatious and disgusting; for, In the dedication,* for which he received ten having little interest or reputation, he was guineas, there is nothing remarkable. The preobliged to submit himself wholly to the players, face contains a very liberal encomium on the and admit, with whatever reluctance, the emen- blooming excellences of Mr. Theophilus Cibber, dations of Mr. Cibber, which he always con- which Mr. Savage could not in the latter part sidered as the disgrace of his performance. of his life see his friends about to read without
He had indeed in Mr. Hill another critic of snatching the play out of their hands. The a very different class, from whose friendship he generosity of Mr. Hill did not end on this ocreceived great assistance on many occasions, and casion; for afterwards, when Mr. Savage's newhom he never mentioned but with the utmost cessities returned, he encouraged a subscription tenderness and regard. He had been for some to a miscellany of poems in a very extraordintime distinguished by him with very particular ary manner, by publishing his story in “ The kindness, and on this occasion it was natural to Plain Dealer," with some affecting lines, which apply to him as an author of an established he asserts to have been written by Mr. Savage character. He therefore sent this tragedy to upon the treatment received by him from his him, with a short copy of verses,* in which he mother, but of which he was himself the audesired his correction. Mr. Hill, whose hu- thor, as Mr. Savage afterwards declared. These manity and politeness are generally known, lines, and the papert in which they were inreadily complied with his request: but as he is serted, had a very powerful effect upon all but remarkable for singularity of sentiment and his mother, whom, by making her cruelty more bold experiments in language, Mr. Savage did public, they only hardened in her aversion. not think his play much improved by his inno- Mr. Hill not only promoted the subscription vation, and bad even at that time the courage to the Miscellany, but furnished likewise the to reject several passages which he could not greatest part of the poems of which it is comapprove; and, what is still more laudable, Mr. posed, and particularly “ The Happy Man,' Hill had the generosity not to resent the neglect which he published as a specimen. of his alterations, but wrote the prologue and The subscriptions of those whom these papere epilogue, in which he touches on the circum- should influence to patronise merit in distress, stances of the author with great tenderness. without
other solicitation, were directed to After all these obstructions and compliances, be left at Button's coffee-house; and Mr. Sahe was only able to bring his play upon the vage going thither a few days afterwards, withstage in the summer when the chief actors had out expectation of any effect from his proposal, retired, and the rest were in possession of the found to his surprise seventy guineas, which house for their own advantage. Among these, had been sent him in consequence of the comMr. Savage was admitted to play the part of Sir Thomas Overbury,t by which he gained
• To Herbert Tryst, Esq. of Herefordshire.no great reputation, the theatre being a province
Dr.J. for which nature seems not to have designed + « The Plain Dealer) was å periodical paper
for neither his voice, look, nor gesture, written by Mr. Hill and Mr. Bond, whom Savage was such as was expected on the stage ; and he called the two contending powers of light and dark was so much ashamed of having been reduced ness. They wrote by turns each six essays; and to appear as a player, that he always blotted out the character of the work was observed regularly his name from the list, when a copy of his tra- to rise in Mr. Hill's week, and fall in Mr. Bond's. gedy was to be shown to his friends.
-Dr. J. In the publication of his performance he was
| The names of those who so generously contrimore successful; for the rays of genius that buted to his relief, having been mentioned in a glimmered in it, that glimmered throngh all former account, ought not to be omitted here. They
were the Dutchess of Cleveland, Lady Cheyney,
Lady Castlemain, Lady Gower, Lady Lechmere, the * Printed in the late collection of his poems. Dutchess Dowager and Dutchess of Rutland, Lady
+ It was acted only three nights, the first on June Strafford, the Countess Dowager of Warwick, Mrs. 12, 1723. When the house opened for the winter Mary Flower, Mrs. Sofuel Noel, Duke of Rutland, season it was once more performed for the Author's Lord Gainsborough, Lord Mislington, Mr. John Sa benefit, Oct. 2.-R.