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him in a private letter to the author of the paper, wha either trusting to the protection of those whose defence he had undertaken, or having entertained some personal malice against Mr. Savage, or fearing, left, by retracting so confident an affertion, he should impair the credit of his paper, refused to give him that fatisfaction.
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 liis innocence, he thought any farther procedure would have the appearance
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 publishing an obscene pamphlet.
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 chofen. 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 than 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 conversation; and therefore Mr. Savage, in pursuance of his character, endea
Foured to become conspicuous among the controver tifts with which every coffee-house 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. Rundle; for he 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 harangue and dispute, buț necesfary likewise to write upon it.
He therefore engaged with great ardour in a new poem, called by him, The Progress of a Divine ; in which he conducts a profligate priest by all the gradations of wickedness from a poor curacy in the country, to the highesi preferments of the church, and des fcribes with that humour which was natural to him, and that knowledge which was extended to all the diversities of human life, his behaviour in every station ; and insinuates, that this priest, thus accomplished, found at last a patron in the Bishop of London.
When he was asked by one of his friends, on what pretence he could charge the bishop with such an accion? he had no more to say, than that he had only inverted the accusation, and that he thought it reasonable to believe, that he, who obftructed the rise of a good man without reason, would for bad reasons promote the exaltation of a villain.
The clergy were universally provoked by this fatire; and Savage, who, as was his conftant practice, had set his name to his performance, was censured in The
Weekly Miscellany * with severity, which he did not seem inclined to forget.
* A short fatire was likewise published in the fame paper, in which were the following lines :
For cruel murder doom'd to hempen death,
might you think he spent his future years
unknown hand, from which the following lines are selected :
Transform'd by thoughtless rage, and midnight wine,
Instead of wasting all thy future years,
Savage, in prayer and vain repentant tears ;"
But a return of invective was not thought a suffici, ent punishment. The Court of King's Bench was therefore moved against him, and he was obliged to return an answer to a charge of obscenity. It was urged, in his defence, that obscenity was criminal when it was intended to promote the practice of vice; but that Mr. Savage had only introduced obscene ideas with the view of exposing them to detestation, and of amending the age, by thewing the deformity of wickedness. This plea was admitted ; and Sir Philip Yorke, who then presided in that court, dismissed the information with 'encomiums upon the purity and excellence of Mr. Savage's writings.
The prosecution, however, answered in fome measure the purpose of those by whom it was set on foot ; for Mr. Savage was so far intimidated by it, that, when the edition of his poem was sold, he did not venture to reprint it ; so that it was in a short time forgotten, or forgotten by all but those whom it offended.
It is said, that fome endeavours were used to in cense the Queen against him ; but he found advocates to obviate at least part of their effect ; for though he was never advanced, he still continued to receive his pension.
Thus future times shall royal grace extol :
Maliciously that Savage plung'd the steel,
Gentleman's Msagazine, May 1735,
This poem drew more infamy upon him than any incident of his life ; and, as his conduct cannot be vindicated, it is proper to secure his memory from reproach, by informing those whom he made his enemies, that he never intended to repeat the provocation; and that, though, whenever he thought he had any reason to complain of the clergy, he used to threaten them with a new edition of the Progress of a Divine, it was his calm and settled resolution to sup, press it for ever,
He once intended to have made a better reparation for the folly or injustice with which he might be charged, by writing another poem, called The Progress of a Free-thinker, whom he intended to lead through all the stages of vice and folly, to convert him from virtue to wickedness, and from religion to infidelity, by all the modifh sophistry used for that purpose ; and at last to dismiss him by his own hand into the other world.
That he did not execute this design, is a real loss to mankind, for he was too well acquainted with all the fceries of debauchery to haye failed in his reprefenta. tions of them, and too zealous for virtue not to have represented them in such a manner as thould expose them either to ridicule or detestation.
But this plan was, like others, formed and laid aside, till the vigour of his imagination was spent, and the effervescence of invention had subsided; but foon gave way to some other design, which pleased by its novelty for a while, and then was neglected like the former.
He was fill in his usual exigences, having no cer• tain support but the pension allowed him by the Queen,