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was always able to live at peace with himself. Had he indeed only made use of these expedients to alleviate the loss or want of fortune or reputation, or any other advantages which it is not in man's power to bestow upon himseif they might have been justly inentioned as instances of a philosophical mind, and very properly proposed to the imitation of multitudes, who, for want of diverting their imagination with the same dexterity, languish under afflictions which might be easily removed.
It were doubtless to be wished, that truth and reason were universally prevalent ; that every thing were esteemed according to its real value; and that men'would secure themselves from being disappointed in their 'endeavours after happiness, by placing it only in virtųe, which is always to be obtained; but if adventitious and foreign pleasures must be pursued, it would be perhaps of some benefit, since that pursuit must frequently be fruitless, if the practice of Savage could be taught, that folly might be an antidote to felly, and one fallacy be obviated by another.
But the danger of this pleasing intoxication must not be concealed; nor indeed can any one, after having observed the life of Savage, need to be cautioned against it. By imputing none of his miseries to himself, he continued to act upon the same principles, and to follow the same path ;, was never made wiser by his sufferings, nor preserved by one misfortune from fal. ling into another. He proceeded throughout his life to tread the same steps on the same circle ; always applauding his past conduct, or at least forgetting it, to amuse himself with phantoms of happiness, which were dancing before him ; and willingly turned his eyes from the light of reason, when it would have discovered the illusion, and shewn him, what he never wished to see, his real state.
He is even accused, after having lulled his imagination with those ideal opiates, of having tried the same experiment upon his conscience; and, having accustomed himself to impute all deviations from the right to foreign causes, it is certain that he was upon every occasion too easily reconciled to himself ; and that he appeared very little to regret those practices which had impaired his reputation. The reigning error of his life was, that he mistook the love for the practice of virtue, and was indeed not so much a good inan, as the friend of goodness.
This at least must be allowed liim, that he always preserved a strong sense of the dignimy, the beauty, and the necessity of virtue ; and that he never contributed deliberately to spread corruption amongst mankind. His actions which were generally precipitarc, were often blamcable ; but his writings, being the productions of study, uniformly tended to the exaltation of the mind, and the propagation of morality and piety.
These writings may improve mankind, when his failings shall be forgotten; and therefore he must be considered, upon the whole, as a benefactor to the world : nor can his personal example do any hurt, since, whoever hears of his faults, will hear of the miseries which they brought upon him,
and which would deserve less pity, had not his condition been such as made his faults pardonable. He may be considered as a child exposed to all the temptations of indigence, at an age when resolution was not yet strengthened by conviction, nor virtue confirmed by habit; a circumstance which, in his Bastard, he laments in a very affecting manner :
No Mothers's care
infant innocence with prayer :
, or from vice restrain'd.
The Bastard, however it might provoke or mortify his mother, could not be expected to melt her to compassion, so that he was still under the same want of the necessaries of life ; and he therefore exerted all the interest which his wit, or his birth, or his missortunes, could procure, to obtain, upon the death of Eusden, the place of Poet Laureat, and prosecuted, his application with so much diligence, that the King publickly declared it his intention to bestow it upon him: but such was the fate of Savage, that even the king, when he intended his advantage, was disappointed in his schemes; for the Lord Chamberlain, who has the disposal of the laurci, as one of the appendages of his office, either did not know the King's design, or did not approve it, or thought the nomination of the Laureat an encroachment upon his rights, and therefore bestowed the laurel upon Colley Cibber.
Mr. Savage, thus disappointed, took a resolution of applying to the queen, that, having once given him life, she would enable him to support it, and therefore published a short poem on lier birth-day, to which he gaverhe odd title of " Volunteer Laureat." The event of this essay he laz himself related in the following letter, which he prefixed to the poem, when he afterwards reprinted it in “ The Gentleman's Magazine," from whence I have copied it intire, as this was one of the few attempts in which Mr. Savage succeeded.
" Mr. URIAN, " In your Magazine for February you published the last ? Volunteer " Laureat, written on a very melancholy occasion, the death of the royal
patroness of arts and literature in general, and of the author of that
poem in particular; I now send you the first that Mr. Savage wrote under " that title. - This gentleman, notwiths:anding a very considerable interest, “ being, on the death of Mr. Eusden, diseppointed of the Laureat's place,
wrote the following verses ; which were no sooner published but the " late Queen sent to a bookselle for them. The author had not at that “time a friend either to get him introduced, or his poem presented at Ccurt;
yet such was the unspeakable goodness of that Princess, that, notwith"standing is act of ceremony was wanting, in a few days after publica
3 K 2
« tion Mr. Savage received a Bank bill of fifty pounds, and a gracious mesa
sage from her Majesty, by the Lord North and Guilford, to this effect;
-« That her Majesty' was highly pleased with the verses ; that she took " particularly kind his lines there relating to the king; that he had permis“sion to write annually on the same subject ; and that he should yearly re“ ceive the like present, țill something better (which was her Majesty's in“ rention) could be done for him.'. After this, he was permitted to present “ one of his annual poems to her Majesty, had the honour of kissing her hand, and met with the most gracious reception.
" Yours, &c."
Such was the performance*, and such its reception ; a reception, which, though by no means unkind, was yet not in the highest degree generous ; to chain down the genius of a writer to an annual panegyric shewed in the Queen too much desire of hearing her own praises, and a greater regard to herself than to him on whom her bounty was conferred. It was a kind of avaricious generosity, by which flattery was rather purchased than genius rewarded.
Mrs. Oldfield had formerly given him the same allowance with much more heroic intention : she had no other view than to enable him to prosecute his studies, and to set himself above the want of assistance, and was contented with doing good without stipulating for encomiums,
Mr. Savage, however, was not at liberty to make exceptions, but was Tavished with the favours which he had received, and probably yet more with those which he waspiomised: he considered himself now as a favolTite of the Queen, and did not doubt but a few annual poems would establish him in some profitable employment.
He therefore assumed the title of “ Volunteer Laurcat,'' not without some reprehensions from Cibber, who informed him, that the title of “ Laurear," was a mark of honour conferred by the King, from whom all honour is derived, and which therefore no man has a right to bestow upon himself; and added, that he might with equal propriety style himself a Volunicer Lord, or Volunteer Baronet. It cannot be denied that the remark was just; but Savage did not think any title, which was conferred • upon Mr. Cibber, co honourable as that the usurpation of it could be imputed to him as an instance of very exorbicant vanity, and therefore continued to write under the same titie, and received every year the same teward, - He did not appear to consider these encomiums as tests of his abilities, or as any thing more than annual hints to the Queen of her promise, or acts of ceremony, by the performance of which he was entitled to his pension, and therefore did not labcur them with great diligence, or print more than fifty each year, except that for come of the last years he regularly inserted * This poem, being inserted in the veure part of this collection, is deze ozz.itted. E.
them in “ The Gentleman's Magazine,” by which they were dispersed over the kingdom.
Of some of them he had himself so low an opinion, that he intended to omit them in the collection of poems, for which he printed proposals, and solicited subscriptions; nor can it seem strange, that, being confined to the same subject, he should be at some times indolent, and at orhers unsuccessful ; that he should sometimes delay a disagreeable task, till it was 100 late to perform it well; or that he should sometimes repeat the same sentiment on the same occasion, or at others misled by an attempt after novelty to forced conceptions and far-fetched images.
He wrote indeed with a double intention, which supplied him with some variety; for his business was to praise the 'Queen for the favours which ho had received, and to complain to her of the delay of those which she had promised: in some of his pieces, therefore, gratitude is predominant, and in some discontent; in some he represents himself as happy in her patrobage ; and in others, as disconsolate to find himself neglected.
Her promise, like other promises made to this unfortunate man, was. never performed, though he took sufficient care that it should not be forgotten. The publication of his “ Volunteer Laureat” procured him : no other reward than a regular remittance of fifty pounds.
He was not so depressed by his disappointments as to neglect any opportunity that was offered of advancing his interest. When the Princess Anne was married, he wrote a poem * upon her departure, only, as he declared, " because it was expected from him," and he was not willing to bar his own prospect by any appearance of negleck.
He never mentioned any advantage gained by this poem, or regard that was paid to it; and therefore it is likely that it was considered at court as an act of duty, to which he was obliged by his dependence, and which it was therefore not necessary to reward by any new favour: or perhaps the Queen really intended his advancement, and therefore thought it superfluous to lavish presents upon a man whom she intended to establish for life.
About this time not only his hopes were in danger of being frustrated, but his pension likewise of being obstructed, by an accidental calumny, The writer of “ The Daily Courant," a paper then published under the direction of the ministry, charged him with a crime, which, though very great in itself, would have been remarkably invidious in him, and might pery justly have incensed the Queen against him. He was accused by name of influencing elections against the court, by appearing at the head' of a tory mob; nor did the accuser fail to aggravate his crimes, by representing it as the effect of the most atrocious ingratitude and a kind of rebellion, against the Queen, who had first preserved him from an infamous death, 4d afterwards, distinguished him by her favour, and supported him by her
charity. The charge, as it was open and confident, was likewise by good fortune very particular. The place of the transaction was mentioned, and the whole series of the rioter's conduct related. This exactness made Mr. Savage's vindication easy; for he, never had in his life seen the place which was declared to be the scene of his wickedness, nor ever had been present in any town when its representatives were chosen. This answer he therefore made haste to publish, with all the circumstances necessary to make it credible; and very reasonably demanded, that the accusation should be retracted in the same paper, that he might no longer suffer the imputation of sedition and ingratitude. This demand was likewise pressed by him in a private letter to the author of the paper, who either trusting to the protection of those whose defence he had undertaken, or having entertained some personal malice against Mr. Savage, or fearing, lest, by retracting so cenfdent an assertion, he should impair the credit of his paper, refused to give him that satisfaction.
Mr. Savage therefore thought it necessary, to his own vindication, to prosecute him in the King's Bench; but as he did not find any ill effects from the accusation, having sufficiently cleared his innocence, he thought any farther procedure would have the appearance of revenge ; and therefore willingly dropped it.
He saw soon afterwards a process commenced in the same court against himself, on an information in which he was accused of writing and publislring an obscene pamphiet.
It was always Mr. Savage's desire to be distinguished; and, when any controversy became popular, he never wanted some reason for engaging in it with great ardour, and appearing at the head of the party which he had chosen. As he was never celebrated for his prudence, he had no sooner taken his side, and informed himself of the chief topicks of the dispute
, than he took all opportunities of asserting and propagating his principles
, without much regard to his own interest, or any other visible design thaa that of drawing upon himself the attention of mankind.
The dispute between the bishop of London and the chancellor is well known to have been for some time the chief topick of political convers:tion; and therefore Mr. Savage, in pursuance of his character, endeavoured to become conspicuous among the controvertists with which every coffeehouse was filled on that occasion. He was an indefatigable opposer of all the claims of ecclesiastical power, though he did not know on what they were founded; and was therefore no friend to the Bishop of London. But he had another reason for appearing as a warm advocate for Dr. Runde for be was the friend of Mr. Foster and Mr. Thomson, who were the friends of Mr. Savage.
Thus remote was his interest in the question, which, however, as he imagined, concerned him so nearly, that it was not sufficient to larangue and dispute, but necessary likewise to write upon it.