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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 shew 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 resentment. 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 to procure any assistance. The last time that the keeper saw him was on July the 31st, 1743; when Savage, seeing him at his bed-side, said, with an uncommon earnestness, “I have something to say to you, Sir;” but, after a pause, moved his hand in a melai, choly 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. o _ Such were the life and death of Richard Savage, a man equally distinguished 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, softened into an engaging easiness of manners. His walk was slow, and his voice tremalous and mournful. He was easily excited to smiles, but very seldom provoked to laughter. His mind was in an uncommon degree vigorous and active. His judgment 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 art of escaping from his own reflections, and accommodating himself to every new scene. To this quality is to be imputed the extent of his knowledge, compared with the snall time which he spent in visible endeavours to acquire it. He mingled in cursory conversation with the same steadiness of attention as others apply to a lecture; and amidst the appearance of thoughtless gaiety, lost no new idea that was started, nor any hint that could be improved. He had therefore made in coffee-houses the same proficiency as others in their closets: and it is remarkable, that the writings of a man of little education and little reading have an air of learning scarcely to be found in any other performances, but which perhaps as often obscures as embelishes them. His judgment was eminently exact both with regard to writings and to men. The knowledge of life was indeed his chief attainment; and it is not without some satisfaction, that I can produce the suffrage of Savage in favour of human nature, of which he never appeared to entertain such odious ideas as some, who perhaps had neither his judgment nor experience, have published, either in ostentation of their sagacity, vindication of their crimes, or gratification of their malice. This method of life particularly qualified him for conversation, of which he knew how to practice all the graces. He was never vehement or loud, but at once modest and easy, open and respectful; his language was viva
* Mr. Pope. See some extracts of letters from that gentleman to and concerning Mr. Savage, in Ruffhead's Life of Pope, P. 5oz. E. which
cious or elegant, and equally happy upon grave and humourous subjects.
He was generally censured for not knowing when to retire ; but that was not the defect of his judgment, but of his fortune : when he left his company, he was frequently to spend the remaining part of the night in the street, or at least was abandoned to gloomy reflections, which it is not strange that he delayed as long as he could ; and sometimes forgot that he gave others pain to avoid it himself. It cannot be said, that he made use of his abilities for the direction of his own conduct : an irregular and dissipated manner of life had made him the slave of every passion that happened to be excited by the presence of its object, and that slavery to his passions reciprocally produced a life irregular and dissipated. He was not master of his own motions, nor could promise any thing for the next day. - With regard to his geconomy, nothing can be added to the relation of his life. He appeared to think himself born to be supported by others
and dispensed from all necessity of providing for himself; he therefore,
never prosecuted any scheme of advantage, nor endeavoured even to se— cure the profits which his writings might have afforded him. His temper was, in consequence cf the dominion of his passions, uncertain and capri. cious; he was easily engaged, and easily digusted ; but he is accused of retaining his hatred more tenaciously than his benevolence.
Wol. I. 3 O He
He was compassionate both by nature and principle, and always ready to perform offices of humanity; but when he was provoked (and very small offences were sufficient to provoke him), he would prosecute his revenge with the utmost acrimony till his passion had subsided. His friendship was therefore of little value; for though he was zealous in the support or vindication of those whom he loved, yet it was always dangerous to trust him, because he considered himself as discharged by the first quarrel from all ties of honour or gratitude ; and would betray those secrets which in the warmth of confidence had been imparted to him. This practice drew upon him an universal accusation of ingratitude : nor can it be denied that he was very ready to set himself free from the load of an obligation; for he could not bear to conceive himself in a state of dependance, his pride being equally powerful with his other passions, and appearing in the form of insolence at one time, and of vanity at another. Vanity the most innocent species of pride, was most frequently predominant: he could not easily leave off, when he at once begun to mention himselfor his works ; nor ever read his verses without stealing his eyes from the page to discover in the faces of his audience how they were affected with any favourite passage. A kinder name than that of vanity ought to be given to the delicacy with which he was always careful to separate his own merit from every other man's, and to reject that praise to which he had no claim. He did not forget, in mentioning his performances, to mark every line that had been sug’ gested or amended; and was so accurate, as to relate that he owed thro zwords in “ The Wandeler” to the advice of his friends. His veracity was questioned, but with little reason; his accounts, though not indeed always the same, were generally consistent. When he loved any man, he suppressed all his faults; and when he had been offended by him, , concealed all his virtues: but his characters were generally true, so far as he proceeded ; though it cannot be denied, that his partiality might have sometimes the effect of falsehood. • * In cases indifferent, he was zealous for virtue, truth, and justice: ht knew very well the necessity of goodness to the present and future happi ness of mankind; nor is there perhaps any writer, who has less endeavoured to please by flattering the appetites or perverting the judgment. As an author, therefore, and he now ceases to influence mankind in any other character, if one piece which he had resolved to suppress be except. ed, he has very little to fear from the strictest moral or religious censure. And though he may not be altogether secure against the objections of the critic, it must however be acknowledged, that his works are the productions of a genius truly poetical ; and, what many writers who have been more lavishly applauded cannot boast, that they have an original aii, which has no resemblance of any foregoing writer, that the versification and sentiments have a cast peculiar to themselves, which no man can i. W]
success, because what was nature in Savage, would in another be affectation. It must be confessed, that his descriptions are striking, his images animated, his fictions justly imagined, and his allegories artfully pursued; that his diction is elevated, though sometimes forced, and his numbers sonorous and majestic, though frequently sluggish and encumbered. Of his style, the general fault is harshness, and its general eczellence is dignity; of his sentiments, the prevailing beauty is simplicity, and uniformity the prevailing defect. z
For his life, or for his writings, none who candidly consider his fortune, will think an apology either necessary or difficult. If he was not always sufficiently instructed in his subject, his knowledge was at least greater than could have been attained by others in the same state. If his works were sometimes unfinished, accuracy cannot reasonably be exacted from a man oppressed with want, which he has no hope of relieving but by a speedy publication. The insolence and resentment of which he is accused were not easily to be avoided by a great mind irritated by perpetual hardships, and constrained hourly to return the spurns of contempt, and repress the insolence of prosperity; and vanity surely may be readily pardoned in him, to whom life afforded no other comforts than barren praises, and the consciousness of deserving them.
Those are no proper judges of his conduct, who have slumbered away their time on the down of plenty; nor will any wise man easily presume to say, “Had I been in Savage's condition, I should have lived or written “better than Savage.”
This relation will not be wholly without its use, if those, who languish under any part of his sufferings, shall be enabled to fortify their patience, by reflecting that they feel only those afflictions from which the abilities of Savage did not exempt him ; or those, who, in confidence of superior capacities or attainments, disregard the common maxims of life, shall be reminded, that nothing will supply the want of prudence; and that negligence and irregularity, long continued, will make knowledge useless, wit ridiculous, and genius contemptible.
3 O 2. SWIFT
N Account of Dr. Swift has been already collected, with great diligence and acuteness, by Dr. Hawkesworth, according to a scheme which I laid before him in the intimacy of our friendship. I cannot therefore be expected to say much of a life, concerning which I had long since communicated my thoughts to a man capable of dignifying his narrations with so much elegance of language and force of sentiment.
JONATHAN SWIFT was, according to an account said to be" written by himself, the son of Jonathan Swift, an attorney and was born at Dublin on St. Andrew's day, 1667: according to his own report, as delivered by Pope to Spence, he was born at Leicester, the son of a clergyman, who was minister of a parish in Herefordshire?. During his life the place of his birth was undetermined. He was contented to be called an Irishman by the Irish ; but would occasionally call himself an Englishman. The question may, without much regret, be left in the obscurity in which he delighted to involve it.
Whatever was his birth, his education was Irish. He was sent at the age of six to the school at Kilkenny, and in his fifteenth year (1682) was admitted into the University of Dublin.
In his academical studies he was either not diligent or not happy. It must disappoint every reader's expectation, that, when at the usual time he claimed the Bachelorship of Arts, he was found by the examiners too conspicuously deficient for regular admission, and obtained his degree at last by special favour, a term used in that university to denote want of merit.
* Mr. Sheridan in his life of Swift observes, that this account was really written by the Deut, and now exists in his own hand-writing in the Library cf Dublin College, E, 't Spence's Anecdotes, vol, II, p. 273, * .
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