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always himself denied that he was drunk, as had been generally reported. Mr. Gregory, who is now (1744) Collector of Antigua, is said to declare him far less criminal than he was imagined, even by some who favoured him : and Page himself afterwards confessed, that he had treated him with uncommon rigour. When all these particulars are rated together, perhaps the memory of Savage may not be much fullied by his trial.
Some time after he obtained his liberty, he met in the street the woman that had sworn with so much malignity against him. She informed him, that she was in distress, and, with a degree of confidence not easily attainable, desired him to relieve her. He, instead of insulting her misery, and taking pleasure in the calamities of one who had brought his life into danger, reproved her gently for her perjury; and changing the only guinea that he had, divided it equally between her and himself.
This is an action which in some ages would have made a saint, and perhaps in others a hero, and which, without any hyperbolical encomiuins, must be allowed to be an instance of uncommon generosity, an act of complicated virtue ; by which he at once relieved the poor, corrected the vicious, and forgave an enemy; by which he at once remitted the strongest provocations, and exercised the most ardent charity.
Compassion was indeed the distinguishing quality of Savage; he never appeared inclined to take advantage of weakness, to attack the defenceless, or to press upon the falling : whoever was distressed was certain at least of his good wishes ; and when he could give no affittance to extricate them from misfortunes, he endeavoured to footh them by sympathy and tenderness.
But when his heart was not softened by the sight of misery, he was sometimes obstinate in his resentment, and did not quickly lose the remembrance of an injury. He always continued to speak with anger of the info , lence and partiality of Page, and a short time before his death revenged it by a satire*.
It is natural to enquire in' what terms Mr. Savage spoke of this fatal action, when the danger was over, and he was under no necessity of using any art to ser his conduct in the fairest light. He was not willing to dwell upon it ; and, if he transiently mentioned it, appeared neither to consider himself as a murderer, ñor as a man wholly free from the guilt of blood *. How much and how long he regretted it, appeared in a poem which he published many years afterwards. On occasion of a copy of verses, in which the failings of good men were recounted, and in which the author had endeavoured to illustrate his position, that “ the “ best may sometimes deviate from virtue,” by an instance of murder committed by Savage in the heat of wine, Savage remarked, that it was no very just representation of a good man, to suppose him liable to drunkenness, and disposed in his riots to cut throats.
He was now indeed at liberty, but was, as before, without any other support than accidental favours and uncertain patronage afforded him ; sources by which he was sometimes very liberally supplied, and which at other times were suddenly stopped; so that he spent his life between want and plenty ; or, what was yet worse, between beggary and extravagance; for as what
* Printed in the late collcction.
# In one of his letters he styles it " a fatal quarrel, but too-well known." Oris, Edit,
ever he received was the gift of chance, which might as well favour him at one time as another, he was .tempted to squander what he had, because he always hoped to be immediately supplied.
Another cause of his profusion was the absurd kindness of his friends, who at once rewarded and enjoyed his abilities, by treating him at taverns, and habituating him to pleasures which he could not afford to enjoy, and which he was not able to deny himself, though he purchased the luxury of a single night by the anguish of cold and hunger for a week.
The experience of these inconveniences determined him to endeavour after some settled income, which, having long found fubmiffon and intreaties fruitless, he attempted to extort from his mother by rougher methods. He had now, as he acknowledged, lost that tenderness for her, which the whole series of her cruelty had not been able wholly to repress, till tre found, by the efforts which she made for his destruction, that she was not content with refusing to assist him, and being neutral in his struggles with poverty, but was as ready to snatch every opportunity of adding to his misfortunes, and that she was to be considered as an enemy implacably malicious, whom nothing but his blood could fatisfy. He therefore threatened to harass her with lampoons, and to publish a copious narrative of her conduct, unless the consented to purchase an exemption froin infamy, by allowing him a pension.
This expedient proved successful. Whether shame still survived, though virtue was extinct, or whether her relations had more delicacy than herself, and imagined that some of the darts which satire might point at her would glance upon them; Lord Tyrcon
nel, whatever were his motives, upon his promise to lay aside his design of exposing the cruelty of his mother, received him into his family, treated him as his equal, and engaged to allow him a pension of two hundred pounds a year.
This was the golden part of Mr. Savage's life; and for some time he had no reason to complain of fortune; his appearance was splendid, his expences ļarge, and his acquaintance extensive. He was courted by all who endeavoured to be thought men of genius, and caressed by, all who valued themselves upon a refined taste. To adınire Mr. Savage, was a proof of difcernment; and to be acquainted with him, was a title to poetical reputation. His presence was sufficient to make any place of publick entertainment popular; and his approbation and example constituted the fashion. Şo powerful is genius, when it is invested with the glitter of affluence! Men willingly pay to fortune that regard which they owe to merit, and are pleased when they have an opportunity at once of gratifying their vanity, and practising their duty,
This interval of prosperity furnished him with op: portunities of enlarging his knowledge of human nature, by contemplating life from its highest gradations to its lowest; and, had he afterwards applied to dramatick poetry, he would perhaps not have had many superiors; for as he never suffered any scene to pass before his eyes without notice, he had treasured in his ipind all the different combinations of passions, and the innumerable mixtures of vice and virtue, which distinguish one character from another; and, as his conception was strong, his expressions were clear, he easily received impressions from objects, and very forcibly transmitted them to others,
Of his exact observations on human life he has left a proof, which would do honour to the greatest names, in a small pamphlet, called, The Author to be let *, where he introduces Iscariot Hackney, a prostitute scribbler, giving an account of his birth, his education, his disposition and morals, habits of life and maxims of conduct. In the introduction are related many secret histories of the petty writers of that time, but sometimes inixed with ungenerous reflections on their birth, their circumstances, or those of their relations; nor can it be denied, that some passages are such as Iscariot Hackney might himself have produced.
He was accused likewise of living in an appearance of friendship with some whom he satirised, and of making use of the confidence which he gained by a feeming kindness to discover failings and expose them: it must be confessed, that Mr. Savage's esteem was no very certain possession, and that he would lampoon at one time those whom he had praised af another.
It may be alleged, that the same man may change his principles, and that he, who was once deservedly commended, may be afterwards satirised with equal justice, or that the poet was dazzled with the
appearance of virtue, and found the man whom he had celebrated, when he had an opportunity of examining hiin more narrowly, unworthy of the panegyrick which he had too hastily bestowed; and that, as a false fatire ought to be recanted, for the sake of him whose
may be injured, false praise ought likewise to be obviated, left the distinction between vice and virtue should be loft, lest a bad man should be trusted upon
* Printed in his Works, vol. II. p. 231.