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lo much a regular fabrick, as a heap of shining materials thrown together by accident, which strikes rather with the folemn magnificence of a stupendous suin, than the elegant grandeur of a finished pile.
This criticism is universal, and therefore it is rea. fonable to believe it at least in a great degree just; but Mr. Savage was always of a contrary opinion, and thought his drift could only be misled by negligence or stupidity, and that the whole plan was regular, and the parts
diftinct. It was never denied to abound with strong representations of nature, and just observations upon life; and it may easily be observed, that most of his pictures have an evident tendency to illustrate his first great position, “ that good is the consequence of evil.” The fun that burns up the mountains, fructifies the tales; the deluge that rushes down the broken rocks with dreadful impetuofity, is separated into purling brooks ; and the rage of the hurricane purifies the air.
Even in this poem he has not been able to forbear one touch upon the cruelty of his mother, which, though remarkably delicate and tender, is a proof how deep an impreffion it had upon his mind.
This must be at least acknowledged, which ought to be thought equivalent to many other 'excellences, that this poem can promote no other purposes than those of virtue, and that it is written with a very Atrong fense of the efficacy of religion.
But my province is rather to give the history of Mr. Savage's performances, than to display their beauties, or to obviate the criticisms which they have occafioned; and therefore I fhall not dwell upon the parti
çular passages which deseve applause: I shall neither thew the excellence of his defcriptions, nor expatiate on the terrifick portrait of suicide, nor point out the artful touches, by which he has distinguished the intellectual features of the rebels, who suffer death in his last canto. It is, however, proper to observe, that Mr. Savage always declared the characters wholly fictitious, and without the least allusion to any real perfons or actions.
From a poem so diligently laboured, and so successfully finished, it might be reasonably expected that he should have gained considerable advantage; nor can it, without some degree of indignation and concern, be told, that he fold the copy for ten guineas, of which he afterwards returned two, that the two last sheets of the work might be reprinted, of which he had in his absence intrusted the correction to a friend, who was too indolent to perform it with accuracy.
A superstitious regard to the correction of his sheets was one of Mr. Savage's peculiarities : he often altered, revised, recurred to his first reading or punctuation, and again adopted the alteration; he was dubious and irresolute without end, as on a question of the last importance, and at last was feldoin satisfied : the intrufion or omission of a comma was sufficient to discompose him, and he would lament an error of a single letter as a heavy calamity. In one of his letters relating to an impression of some verses, he remarks, that he had, with regard to the correction of the proof, “ a spell upon him;" and indeed the anxiety with which he dwelt upon the minutest and most tri
Aling niceties, deserved no other name than that of fascination.
That he sold fo valuable a performance for so small a price, was not to be imputed either to necessity, by which the learned and ingenious are often obliged to fubmit to very hard conditions ; or to avarice, by which the booksellers are frequently incited to oppress that genius by which they are supported; but to that intemperate desire of pleasure, and habitual Navery to his passions, which involved him in many perplexities. He happened at that time to be engaged in the pursuit of some trifling gratification, and, being without money for the present occasion, sold his poem to the first bidder, and perhaps for the first price that was pro posed, and would probably have been content with less, if less had been offered him.
This poem was addressed to the Lord Tyrconnel, not only in the first lines, but in a formal dedication filled with the highest strains of panegyrick, and the warmest professions of gratitude, but by no means remarkable for delicacy of connexion or elegance of style.
These praises in a short time he found himself inclined to retract, being discarded by the man on whom he had bestowed them, and whom he then immediately discovered not to have deserved them. Of this quarrel, which every day made more bitter, Lord Tyrconnel and Mr. Savage assigned very different reasons, which might perhaps all in reality concur, though they were not all convenient to be alleged by either party. Lord Tyrconnel affirmed, that it was the constant practice of Mr. Savage to enter a tavern with any company that proposed it, drink the most expensive
wines with great profusion, and when the reckonifig was demanded, to be without money : If, as it often happened, his company were willing to defray his part, the affair ended, without any ill consequences; buty if they were refractory, and expected that the wine should be paid for by him that drank it, his method of composition was, to take them with him to his own apartment, assume the government of the house, and order the butler in an imperious manner to set the best wine in the cellar before his company, who often drank till they forgot the respect due to the house in which they were entertained, indulged themselves in the utmost extravagance of merriment, practised the most licentious frolicks, and committed all the outrages of drunkenness.
Nor was this the only charge which Lord Tyrconnel brought against him : Having given him a collection of valuable books, Aamped with his own arms, he had the mortification to fee them in a short time exposed to fale upon the stalls, it being usual with Mr. Savage, when he wanted a small fum, to take his books to the pawnbroker.
Whoever was acquainted with Mr. Savage easily credited both these accusations : for, having been obliged, from his first entrance into the world, to subfift upon expedients, affluence was not able to exalt him above them; and so much was he delighted with wine and conversation, and so long had he been accustomed to live by chance, that he would at any time go to the ravern without scruple, and trust for the reckoning to the liberality of his company, and frequently of company to whom he was very little known. This conduct indeed very seldom drew upon him those incon6
veniences that might be feared by any other person; for his conversation was so entertaining, and his address so pleasing, that few thought the pleasure which they received from him dearly purchased, by paying for his wine. It was his peculiar happiness, that he scarcely ever found a stranger, whom he did not leave a friend ; but it must likewise be added, that he had not often a friend long, without obliging him to become a stranger.
Mr. Savage, on the other hand, declared, that Lord Tyrconnel * quarrelled with him, because he would not substract from his own luxury and extravagance what he had promised to allow him, and that his resentment was only a plea for the violation of his promise : He asserted, that he had done nothing that ought to exclude him from that subsistence which he thought not so much a favour, as a debt, since it was offered him upon conditions which he had never broken; and that his only fault was, that he could not be supported with nothing.
He acknowledged, that Lord Tyrconnel often exhorted him to regulate his method of life, and not to spend all his nights in taverns, and that he appeared very desirous, that he would pass those hours with him, which he fo freely bestowed upon others. This demand Mr. Savage considered as a cenfure of his conduct, which he could never patiently bear; and which, in the latter and cooler part of his life, was fo offensive to him, that he declared it as his resolution, “ to spurn that friend who should presume to
* His expression in one of his letters was, “ that Lord Tyrconnel “had involved his estate, and therefore poorly fought an occafion to " quarrel with him." Orig. Edit. Vol. III.