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When he had brought this poem to its present state, which, without considering the chasm, is not perfect, he wrote to London an account of his design, and informed his friend, that he was determined to print it with his name : but enjoined him not to communicate his intention to his Bristol acquaintance, The gentleman, surprised at his resolution, endeavoured to diffuade him from publishing it, at least from prefixing his name ; and declared, that he could not reconcile the injunction of secrecy with his resolution to own it at its first appearance. To this Mr. Savage returned an answer agreeable to his character, in the following terms :
“ I received yours this morning ; and not without
a little surprize at the contents. To answer a ques. “tion with a question, you ask me concerning Lon“ don and Bristol, Why will I add delineated? Why “ did Mr. Woolaston add the fame word to his RELI“GION OF NATURE? I suppose that it was his will and “ pleasure to add it in his case; and it is mine to do « so in my own.
You are pleased to tell me, that you “ understand not why fecrecy is enjoined, and yet “I intend to set my name to it. My anfwer is—I “ have my private reasons, which I am not obliged to
explain to any one. You doubt my friend Mr. S-“ would not approve of it-And what is it to me “ whether he does or not! Do you imagine that Mr. “S-- is to dietate to me? If any man who calls “himself my friend should allume such an air, I “ would spurn at his friendship with contempt. You “ say, I seem to think so by not letting him know it-, “ And suppose I do, what then? Perhaps I can give “ reasons for that disapprobation, very foreign from " what you would inagine. You go on in- saying,
Suppose I should not put my name to it-My an“ swer is, that I will not suppose any such thing, “ being determined to the contrary: neither, Sir, “ would I have you suppose, that I applied to you “ for want of another press; nor would I have you “ imagine, that I owe Mr. S obligations which “ I do not."
Such was his imprudence, and such his obstinate adherence to his own resolutions, however absurd. A prisoner ! supported by charity! and, whatever insults he might have received during the latter part of his stay in Bristol, once caressed, esteemed, and presented with a liberal collection, he could forget on a sudden his danger and his obligations, to gratify the petulance of his wit, or the eagerness of his resentment, and publish a satire, by which he might reasonably expect that he should alienate those who then supported him, and provoke those whom he could neither resist nor escape.
This resolution, from the execution of which it is probable that only his death could have hindered him, is sufficient to fhew, how much he disregarded all considerations that opposed his present passions, and how readily he hazarded all future advantages for any immediate gratifications. Whatever was his predominant inclination, neither hope nor fear hindered him from complying with it; nor had opposition any other effect than to heighten his ardour, and irritate his vehemence.
This performance was however laid aside, while he was employed in foliciting assistance from several great persons; and one interruption succeeding another, hindered him from supplying the chasm, and perhaps
from retouching the other parts, which he can hardly be imagined to have finished in his own opinion ; for it is very unequal, and some of the lines are rather inserted to rhyme to others, than to support or improve the fenfe; but the first and last parts are worked up with great spirit and elegance,
His time was spent in the prison for the most part in study, or in receiving visiųs ; but sometimes he descended to lower amusements, and diverted himself in the kitchen with the converfation of the criminals; for it was not pleasing to him to be much without company; and though he was very capable of a judicious choice, he was often contented with the first that offered : for this he was sometimes reproved by his friends, who found him surrounded with felons : but the reproof was on that, as on other occasions, thrown away; he continued to gratify himself, and to set very little value on the opinion of others.
But here, as in every other scene of his life, he made use of such opportunies as occurred of benefiting those who were more miserable than himself, and was always ready to perform any office of humanity to his fellow-prisoners.
He had now ceased from corresponding with his subscribers except one, who yet continued to remit him the twenty pounds a year which he had promised him, and by whom it was expected that he would have been in a very short time enlarged, because he had directed the keeper to enquire after the state of his debts.
However, he took care to enter his name according to the forms of the court, that the creditor might be obliged to make him some allowance, if he was
continued a prisoner, and, when on that occasion he appeared in the hall, was treated with very unusual refpect.
But the resentment of the city was afterwards raised by some accounts that had been spread of the satire; and he was informed that some of the merchants intended to pay the allowance which the law required, and to detain him a prisoner at their own expence. This he treated as an empty menace; and perhaps might have hastened the publication, only to thew how much he was superior to their insults, had not all his schemes been suddenly destroyed.
When he had been six months in prison, he received from one of his friends *, in whose kindness he had the greatest confidence, and on whose assistance he chiefly depended, a letter, that contained a charge of very atrocious ingratitude, drawn up in such terms as sudden resentment dictated. Henley, in one of his advertisements, had mentioned Pope's treatment of Savage. This was supposed by Pope to be the consequence of a complaint made by Savage to Henley, and was therefore mentioned by him with much refentment. Mr. Savage returned a very solemn protestation of his innocence, but however appeared much disturbed at the accusation. Some days afterwards he was seized with a pain in his back and side, which, as it was not violent, was not suspected to be dangerous ; but growing daily more languid and dejected, on the 25th of July he confined himself to his room, and a fever seized his spirits. The symptoms grew every day more formidable, but his condition did not enable him
* Mr. Pope.
to procure any aslistance. The last time that the keeper saw him was on July the 31st, 1743 ; when Savage, seeing him at his bed-lide, said, with an uncommon earnestness, “ I have something to say to you, “ Sir;" but, after a pause, moved his hand in a melancholy manner; and, finding himself unable to recollect what he was going to communicate, said, “ Tis gone !” The keeper soon after left him; and the next morning he died. He was buried in the church-yard of St. Peter, at the expence of the keeper.
Such were the life and death of Richard Savage, a man equally distinguithed by his virtues and vices; and at once remarkable for his weaknesses and abilities.
He was of a middle stature, of a thin habit of body, a long visage, coarse features, and melancholy aspect ; of a grave and manly deportment, a solemn dignity of mien, but which, upon a nearer acquaintance, foftened into an engaging easiness of manners. His walk was flow, and his voice tremulous and mournful. He was easily excited to siniles, but very feldom provoked to Jaughter.
He mind was in an uncommon degree vigorous and active. His judgement was accurate, his apprehension quick, and his memory so tenacious, that he was frequently observed to know what he had learned from others in a short time, better than those by whom he was informed; and could frequently recollect incidents, with all their combination of circumstances, which few would have regarded at the present time, but which the quickness of his apprehension impressed upon him. He had the peculiar felicity, that his attention neverdeserted him; he was present to every object, and regardful of the most trilling occurrences. He had the