The Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753),Vol. V.
Part 1 out of 6
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_Great-Britain_ and _Ireland._
By Mr. CIBBER, and other Hands.
M DCC LIII
_Aaron Hill_ V
_Anne_, Countess of _Winchelsea_ III
_Barton Booth_ IV
_Behn, Aphra_ III
_Booth_, Vid. _Barton Boyce_ V
_Boyle_, E. _Orrery_ II
_Brooke_, Sir _Fulk Greville_ I
_Brown, Tom_ III
_Buckingham_, Duke of II
_Centlivre_, Mrs. IV
_Chandler_, Mrs. V
_Chudleigh_, Lady III
_Cockburne_, Mrs. V
_Dawes_, Arch. of _York_ IV
_De Foe_ IV
_Dorset_, Earl of I
_Dorset_, Earl of III
_Eustace Budgel_ V
_Granville_, Lord _Landsdown_ IV
_Greville_, Lord _Brooke_ I
_Hall_, Bishop I
_Hammond_, Esq; IV
_Haywood, John_ I
_Haywood, Jasper_ I
_Haywood, Thomas_ I
_Howard, Esq_; III
_Howard_, Sir _Robert_ III
_Johnson, Ben_ I
_Johnson, Charles_ V
_Killegrew, Anne_ II
_Killegrew, Thomas_ III
_Killegrew, William_ III
_King_, Bishop of _Chichester_ II
_King_, Dr. _William_ III
_Lauderdale_, Earl of V
_Lansdown_, Lord _Granville_ IV
_Manley_, Mrs. IV
_Monk_, the Hon. Mrs. III
_Montague_, Earl of _Hallifax_ III
_More_, Sir _Thomas_ I
_More, Smyth_ IV
_Newcastle_, Duchess of II
_Newcastle_, Duke of II
_Orrery, Boyle_, Earl of II
_Phillips_, Mrs. _Katherine_ II
_Phillips, John_ III
_Phillips, Ambrose_ V
_Roscommon_, Earl of III
_Rowe, Nicholas_ III
_Rowe_, Mrs. IV
_Sackville_, E. of _Dorset_ I
_Sheffield_, Duke of Buckingham III
_Smith, Matthew_ II
_Smith, Edmund_ IV
_Smyth, More_ IV
_Stirling_, Earl of I
_Surry_, Earl of I
_Thomas_, Mrs. IV
_Wharton, Philip_ Duke of IV
_Winchelsea, Anne_, Countess of III
* * * * *
EUSTACE BUDGELL, Esq;
was the eldest son of Gilbert Budgell, D.D. of St. Thomas near Exeter,
by his first wife Mary, the only daughter of Dr. William Gulston, bishop
of Bristol; whose sister Jane married dean Addison, and was mother to
the famous Mr. Addison the secretary of state. This family of Budgell is
very old, and has been settled, and known in Devonshire above 200
Eustace was born about the year 1685, and distinguished himself very
soon at school, from whence he was removed early to Christ's Church
College in Oxford, where he was entered a gentleman commoner. He staid
some years in that university, and afterwards went to London, where, by
his father's directions, he was entered of the Inner-Temple, in order to
be bred to the Bar, for which his father had always intended him: but
instead of the Law, he followed his own inclinations, which carried him
to the study of polite literature, and to the company of the genteelest
people in town. This proved unlucky; for the father, by degrees, grew
uneasy at his son's not getting himself called to the Bar, nor properly
applying to the Law, according to his reiterated directions and request;
and the son complained of the strictness and insufficiency of his
father's allowance, and constantly urged the necessity of his living
like a gentleman, and of his spending a great deal of money. During this
slay, however, at the Temple, Mr. Budgell made a strict intimacy and
friendship with Mr. Addison, who was first cousin to his mother; and
this last gentleman being appointed, in the year 1710, secretary to lord
Wharton, the lord lieutenant of Ireland, he made an offer to his friend
Eustace of going with him as one of the clerks in his office. The
proposal being advantageous, and Mr. Budgell being then on bad terms
with his father, and absolutely unqualified for the practice of the Law,
it was readily accepted. Nevertheless, for fear of his father's
disapprobation of it, he never communicated his design to him 'till the
very night of his setting out for Ireland, when he wrote him a letter
to inform him at once of his resolution and journey. This was in the
beginning of April 1710, when he was about twenty five years of age. He
had by this time read the classics, the most reputed historians, and all
the best French, English, or Italian writers. His apprehension was
quick, his imagination fine, and his memory remarkably strong; though
his greatest commendations were a very genteel address, a ready wit and
an excellent elocution, which shewed him to advantage wherever he went.
There was, notwithstanding, one principal defect in his disposition, and
this was an infinite vanity, which gave him so insufferable a
presumption, as led him to think that nothing was too much for his
capacity, nor any preferment, or favour, beyond his deserts. Mr.
Addison's fondness for him perhaps increased this disposition, as he
naturally introduced him into all the company he kept, which at that
time was the best, and most ingenious in the two kingdoms. In short,
they lived and lodged together, and constantly followed the lord
lieutenant into England at the same time.
It was now that Mr. Budgell commenced author, and was partly concerned
with Sir Richard Steele and Mr. Addison in writing the Tatler. The
Spectators being set on foot in 1710-11, Mr. Budgell had likewise a
share in them, as all the papers marked with an X may easily inform the
reader, and indeed the eighth volume was composed by Mr. Addison and
himself, without the assistance of Sir Richard Steele. The
speculations of our author were generally liked, and Mr. Addison was
frequently complimented upon the ingenuity of his kinsman. About the
same time he wrote an epilogue to the Distress'd Mother, which had a
greater run than any thing of that kind ever had before, and has had
this peculiar regard shewn to it since, that now, above thirty years
afterwards, it is generally spoke at the representation of that play.
Several little epigrams and songs, which have a good deal of wit in
them, were also written by Mr. Budgell near this period of time, all
which, together with the known affection of Mr. Addison for him, raised
his character so much, as to make him be very generally known and talked
His father's death in 1711 threw into his hands all the estates of the
family, which were about 950 l. a year, although they were left
incumbered with some debts, as his father was a man of pride and spirit,
kept a coach and six, and always lived beyond his income,
notwithstanding his spiritual preferments, and the money he had received
with his wives. Dr. Budgell had been twice married, and by his first
lady left five children living after him, three of whom were sons,
Eustace, our author, Gilbert, a Clergyman, and William, the fellow of
New College in Oxford. By his last wife (who was Mrs. Fortescue, mother
to the late master of the rolls, and who survived him) he had no issue.
Notwithstanding this access of fortune, Mr. Budgell in no wise altered
his manner of living; he was at small expence about his person, stuck
very close to business, and gave general satisfaction in the discharge
of his office.
Upon the laying down of the Spectator, the Guardian was set up, and in
this work our author had a hand along with Mr. Addison and Sir Richard
Steele. In the preface it is said, those papers marked with an asterisk
are by Mr. Budgell.
In the year 1713 he published a very elegant translation of
Theophrastus's Characters, which Mr. Addison in the Lover says, 'is the
best version extant of any ancient author in the English language.' It
was dedicated to the lord Hallifax, who was the greatest patron our
author ever had, and with whom he always lived in the greatest intimacy.
Mr. Budgell having regularly made his progress in the secretary of
State's office in Ireland; upon the arrival of his late Majesty in
England, was appointed under secretary to Mr. Addison, and chief
secretary to the Lords Justices of Ireland. He was made likewise deputy
clerk of the council in that kingdom, and soon after chose member of the
Irish parliament, where he became a very good speaker. The post of under
secretary is reckoned worth 1500 l. a year, and that of deputy clerk to
the council 250 l. a year. Mr. Budgell set out for Ireland the 8th of
October, 1714, officiated in his place in the privy council the 14th,
took possession of the secretary's office, and was immediately admitted
secretary to the Lords Justices. In the same year at a public
entertainment at the Inns of Court in Dublin, he, with many people of
distinction, was made an honorary bencher. At his first entering upon
the secretary's place, after the removal of the tories on the accession
of his late Majesty, he lay under very great difficulties; all the
former clerks of his office refusing to serve, all the books with the
form of business being secreted, and every thing thrown into the utmost
confusion; yet he surmounted these difficulties with very uncommon
resolution, assiduity, and ability, to his great honour and applause.
Within a twelvemonth of his entering upon his employments, the rebellion
broke out, and as, for several years (during all the absences of the
lord lieutenant) he had discharged the office of secretary of state, and
as no transport office at that time subsisted, he was extraordinarily
charged with the care of the embarkation, and the providing of shipping
(which is generally the province of a field-officer) for all the troops
to be transported to Scotland. However, he went through this extensive
and unusual complication of business, with great exactness and ability,
and with very singular disinterestedness, for he took no extraordinary
service money on this account, nor any gratuity, or fees for any of the
commissions which passed through his office for the colonels and
officers of militia then raising in Ireland. The Lords Justices pressed
him to draw up a warrant for a very handsome present, on account of his
great zeal, and late extraordinary pains (for he had often sat up whole
nights in his office) but he very genteely and firmly refused it.
Mr. Addison, upon becoming principal secretary of state in England in
1717, procured the place of accomptant and comptroller general of the
revenue in Ireland for Mr. Budgell, which is worth 400 l. a year, and
might have had him for his under secretary, but it was thought more
expedient for his Majesty's service, that Mr. Budgell should continue
where he was. Our author held these several places until the year 1718,
at which time the duke of Bolton was appointed lord lieutenant. His
grace carried one Mr. Edward Webster over with him (who had been an
under clerk in the Treasury) and made him a privy counsellor and his
secretary. This gentleman, 'twas said, insisted upon the quartering a
friend on the under secretary, which produced a misunderstanding between
them; for Mr. Budgell positively declared, he would never submit to any
such condition whilst he executed the office, and affected to treat Mr.
Webster himself, his education, abilities, and family, with the utmost
contempt. He was indiscreet enough, prior to this, to write a lampoon,
in which the lord lieutenant was not spared: he would publish it (so
fond was he of this brat of his brain) in opposition to Mr. Addison's
opinion, who strongly persuaded him to suppress it; as the publication,
Mr. Addison said, could neither serve his interest, or reputation. Hence
many discontents arose between them, 'till at length the lord
lieutenant, in support of his secretary, superseded Mr. Budgell, and
very soon after got him removed from the place of accomptant-general.
However, upon the first of these removals taking place, and upon some
hints being given by his private secretary, captain Guy Dickens (now our
minister at Stockholm) that it would not probably be safe for him to
remain any longer in Ireland, he immediately entrusted his papers and
private concerns to the hands of his brother William, then a clerk in
his office, and set out for England. Soon after his arrival he published
a pamphlet representing his case, intituled, A Letter to the Lord----
from Eustace Budgell, Esq; Accomptant General of Ireland, and late
Secretary to their Excellencies the Lords Justices of that Kingdom;
eleven hundred copies of which were sold off in one day, so great was
the curiosity of the public in that particular. Afterwards too in the
Post-Boy of January 17, 1718-19, he published an Advertisement to
justify his character against a report that had been spread to his
disadvantage: and he did not scruple to declare in all companies that
his life was attempted by his enemies, or otherwise he should have
attended his feat in the Irish Parliament. His behaviour, about this
time, made many of his friends judge he was become delirious; his
passions were certainly exceeding strong, nor were his vanity and
jealousy less. Upon his coming to England he had lost no time in waiting
upon Mr. Addison, who had resigned the seals, and was retired into the
country for the sake of his health; but Mr. Addison found it impossible
to stem the tide of opposition, which was every where running against
his kinsman, through the influence and power of the duke of Bolton. He
therefore disswaded him in the strongest manner from publishing his
case, but to no manner of purpose, which made him tell a friend in great
anxiety, 'Mr. Budgell was wiser than any man he ever knew, and yet he
supposed the world would hardly believe he acted contrary to his
advice.' Our author's great and noble friend the lord Hallifax was dead,
and my lord Orrery, who held him in the highest esteem, had it not in
his power to procure him any redress. However, Mr. Addison had got a
promise from lord Sunderland, that as soon as the present clamour was a
little abated, he would do something for him.
Mr. Budgell had held the considerable places of under secretary to the
Lord Lieutenant, and secretary to the Lords Justices for four years,
during which time he had never been absent four days from his office,
nor ten miles from Dublin. His application was indefatigable, and his
natural spirits capable of carrying him through any difficulty. He had
lived always genteelly, but frugally, and had saved a large sum of
money, which he now engaged in the South-Sea scheme. During his abode in
Ireland, he had collected materials for writing a History of that
kingdom, for which he had great advantages, by having an easy recourse
to all the public offices; but what is become of it, and whether he ever
finished it, we are not certainly informed. It is undoubtedly a
considerable loss, because there is no tolerable history of that nation,
and because we might have expected a satisfactory account from so
pleasing a writer.
He wrote a pamphlet, after he came to England, against the famous
Peerage Bill, which was very well received by the public, but highly
offended the earl of Sunderland. It was exceedingly cried up by the
opposition, and produced some overtures of friendship at the time, from
Mr. Robert Walpole, to our author. Mr. Addison's death, in the year
1719, put an end, however, to all his hopes of succeeding at court,
where he continued, nevertheless, to make several attempts, but was
constantly kept down by the weight of the duke of Bolton. In the
September of that year he went into France, through all the strong
places in Flanders and Brabant, and all the considerable towns in
Holland, and then went to Hanover, from whence he returned with his
Majesty's retinue the November following.
But the fatal year of the South-Sea, 1720, ruined our author entirely,
for he lost above 20,000 l. in it; however he was very active on that
occasion, and made many speeches at the general courts of the South-Sea
Company in Merchant-Taylors Hall, and one in particular, which was
afterwards printed both in French and English, and run to a third
edition. And in 1721 he published a pamphlet with success, called, A
Letter to a Friend in the Country, occasioned by a Report that there is
a Design still forming by the late Directors of the South-Sea Company,
their Agents and Associates, to issue the Receipts of the 3d and 4th
Subscriptions at 1000 l. per Cent. and to extort about 10 Millions more
from the miserable People of Great Britain; with some Observations on
the present State of Affairs both at Home and Abroad. In the same year
he published A Letter to Mr. Law upon his Arrival in Great Britain,
which run through seven editions very soon. Not long afterwards the duke
of Portland, whose fortune had been likewise destroyed by the South-Sea,
was appointed governor of Jamaica, upon which he immediately told Mr.
Budgell he should go with him as his secretary, and should always live
in the same manner with himself, and that he would contrive every method
of making the employment profitable and agreeable to him: but his grace
did not know how obnoxious our author had rendered himself; for within a
few days after this offer's taking air, he was acquainted in form by a
secretary of state, that if he thought of Mr. Budgell, the government
would appoint another governor in his room.
After being deprived of this last resource, he tried to get into the
next parliament at several places, and spent near 5000 l. in
unsuccessful attempts, which compleated his ruin. And from this period
he began to behave and live in a very different manner from what he had
ever done before; wrote libellous pamphlets against Sir Robert Walpole
and the ministry; and did many unjust things with respect to his
relations; being distracted in his own private fortune, as, indeed, he
was judged to be, in his senses; torturing his invention to find out
ways of subsisting and eluding his ill-stars, his pride at the same time
working him up to the highest pitches of resentment and indignation
against all courts and courtiers.
His younger brother, the fellow of New-College, who had more weight with
him than any body, had been a clerk under him in Ireland, and continued
still in the office, and who bad fair for rising in it, died in the year
1723, and after that our author seemed to pay no regard to any person.
Mr. William Budgell was a man of very good sense, extremely steady in
his conduct, and an adept in all calculations and mathematical
questions; and had besides great good-nature and easiness of temper.
Our author as I before observed, perplexed his private affairs from this
time as much as possible, and engaged in numberless law-suits, which
brought him into distresses that attended him to the end of his life.
In 1727 Mr. Budgell had a 1000 l. given him by the late Sarah, duchess
dowager of Marlborough, to whose husband (the famous duke of
Marlborough) he was a relation by his mother's side, with a view to his
getting into parliament. She knew he had a talent for speaking in
public, and that he was acquainted with business, and would probably run
any lengths against the ministry. However this scheme failed, for he
could never get chosen.
In the year 1730 and about that time, he closed in with the writers
against the administration, and wrote many papers in the Craftsman. He
likewise published a pamphlet, intitled, A Letter to the Craftsman,
from E. Budgell, Esq; occasioned by his late presenting an humble
complaint against the right honourable Sir Robert Walpole, with a
Post-script. This ran to a ninth edition. Near the same time too he
wrote a Letter to Cleomenes King of Sparta, from E. Budgell, Esq; being
an Answer Paragraph by Paragraph to his Spartan Majesty's Royal Epistle,
published some time since in the Daily Courant, with some Account of the
Manners and Government of the Antient Greeks and Romans, and Political
Reflections thereon. And not long after there came out A State of one of
the Author's Cases before the House of Lords, which is generally printed
with the Letter to Cleomenes: He likewise published on the same occasion
a pamphlet, which he calls Liberty and Property, by E. Budgell, Esq;
wherein he complains of the seizure and loss of many valuable papers,
and particularly a collection of Letters from Mr. Addison, lord
Hallifax, Sir Richard Steele, and other people, which he designed to
publish; and soon after he printed a sequel or second part, under the
The same year he also published his Poem upon his Majesty's Journey to
Cambridge and New-market, and dedicated it to the Queen. Another of his
performances is a poetical piece, intitled A Letter to his Excellency
Ulrick D'Ypres, and C----, in Answer to his excellency's two Epistles in
the Daily Courant; with a Word or Two to Mr. Osborn the Hyp Doctor, and
C----. These several performances were very well received by the public.
In the year 1733 he began a weekly pamphlet (in the nature of a
Magazine, though more judiciously composed) called The Bee, which he
continued for about 100 Numbers, that bind into eight Volumes Octavo,
but at last by quarrelling with his booksellers, and filling his
pamphlet with things entirely relating to himself, he was obliged to
drop it. During the progress of this work, Dr. Tindall's death happened,
by whose will Mr. Budgell had 2000 l. left him; and the world being
surprised at such a gift, immediately imputed it to his making the will
himself. This produced a paper-war between him and Mr. Tindall, the
continuator of Rapin, by which Mr. Budgell's character considerably
suffered; and this occasioned his Bee's being turned into a meer
vindication of himself.
It is thought he had some hand in publishing Dr. Tindall's Christianity
as old as the Creation; and he often talked of another additional volume
on the same subject, but never published it. However he used to enquire
very frequently after Dr. Conybear's health (who had been employed by
her late majesty to answer the first, and had been rewarded with the
deanery of Christ-Church for his pains) saying he hoped Mr. Dean would
live a little while longer, that he might have the pleasure of making
him a bishop, for he intended very soon to publish the other volume of
Tindall which would do the business. Mr. Budgell promised likewise a
volume of several curious pieces of Tindall's, that had been committed
to his charge, with the life of the doctor; but never fulfilled his
During the publication of the Bee a smart pamphlet came out, called A
Short History of Prime Ministers, which was generally believed to be
written by our author; and in the same year he published A Letter to the
Merchants and Tradesmen of London and Bristol, upon their late glorious
behaviour against the Excise Law.
After the extinction of the Bee, our author became so involved with
law-suits, and so incapable of living in the manner he wished and
affected to do, that he was reduced to a very unhappy situation. He got
himself call'd to the bar, and attended for some time in the courts of
law; but finding it was too late to begin that profession, and too
difficult for a man not regularly trained to it, to get into business,
he soon quitted it. And at last, after being cast in several of his own
suits, and being distressed to the utmost, he determined to make away
with himself. He had always thought very loosely of revelation, and
latterly became an avowed deist; which, added to his pride, greatly
disposed him to this resolution.
Accordingly within a few days after the loss of his great cause, and his
estates being decreed for the satisfaction of his creditors, in the year
1736 he took boat at Somerset-Stairs (after filling his pockets with
stones upon the beach) ordered the waterman to shoot the bridge, and
whilst the boat was going under it threw himself over-board. Several
days before he had been visibly distracted in his mind, and almost mad,
which makes such an action the less wonderful.
He was never married, but left one natural daughter behind him, who
afterwards took his name, and was lately an actress at Drury-Lane.
It has been said, Mr. Budgell was of opinion, that when life becomes
uneasy to support, and is overwhelmed with clouds, and sorrows, that a
man has a natural right to take it away, as it is better not to live,
than live in pain. The morning before he carried his notion of
self-murder into execution, he endeavoured to persuade his daughter to
accompany him, which she very wisely refused. His argument to induce her
was; life is not worth the holding.--Upon Mr. Budgell's beauroe was
found a slip of paper; in which were written these words.
What Cato did, and Addison approv'd,
Cannot be wrong.--
Mr. Budgell had undoubtedly strong natural parts, an excellent
education, and set out in life with every advantage that a man could
wish, being settled in very great and profitable employments, at a very
early age, by Mr. Addison: But by excessive vanity and indiscretion,
proceeding from a false estimation of his own weight and consequence, he
over-stretched himself, and ruined his interest at court, and by the
succeeding loss of his fortune in the South-Sea, was reduced too low to
make any other head against his enemies. The unjustifiable and
dishonourable law-suits he kept alive, in the remaining part of his
life, seem to be intirely owing to the same disposition, which could
never submit to the living beneath what he had once done, and from that
principle he kept a chariot and house in London to the very last.
His end was like that of many other people of spirit, reduced to great
streights; for some of the greatest, as well as some of the most
infamous men have laid violent hands upon themselves. As an author where
he does not speak of himself, and does not give a loose to his vanity,
he is a very agreeable and deserving writer; not argumentative or deep,
but very ingenious and entertaining, and his stile is peculiarly
elegant, so as to deserve being ranked in that respect with Addison's,
and is superior to most of the other English writers. His Memoirs of the
Orrery Family and the Boyle's, is the most indifferent of his
performances; though the translations of Phalaris's Epistles in that
work are done with great spirit and beauty.
As to his brothers, the second, Gilbert, was thought a man of deeper
learning and better judgment when he was young than our author, but was
certainly inferior to him in his appearance in life; and, 'tis thought,
greatly inferior to him in every respect. He was author of a pretty Copy
of Verses in the VIIIth Vol. of the Spectators, Numb, 591, which begins
Conceal, fond man, conceal the mighty smart,
Nor tell Corinna she has fir'd thy heart.
And it is said that it was a repulse from a lady of great fortune, with
whom he was desperately in love whilst at Oxford, and to whom he had
addressed these lines, that made him disregard himself ever after,
neglect his studies, and fall into a habit of drinking. Whatever was the
occasion of this last vice it ruined him. A lady had commended and
desired to have a copy of his Verses once, and he sent them, with these
lines on the first leaf--
Lucretius hence thy maxim I abjure
Nought comes from nought, nothing can nought procure.
If to these lines your approbation's join'd,
Something I'm sure from nothing has been coin'd.
This gentleman died unmarried, a little after his brother Eustace, at
Exeter; having lived in a very disreputable manner for some time, and
having degenerated into such excessive indolence, that he usually picked
up some boy in the streets, and carried him into the coffee-house to
read the news-papers to him. He had taken deacon's orders some years
before his death, but had always been averse to that kind of life; and
therefore became it very ill, and could never be prevailed upon to be a
The third brother William, fellow of New-College in Oxford, died (as I
mentioned before) one of the clerks in the Irish secretary of state's
office, very young. He had been deputy accomptant general, both to his
brother and his successor; and likewise deputy to Mr. Addison, as keeper
of the records in Birmingham-Tower. Had he lived, 'tis probable he would
have made a considerable figure, being a man of sound sense and
learning, with great prudence and honour. His cousin Dr. Downes, then
bishop of London-Derry, was his zealous friend, and Dr. Lavington the
present bishop of Exeter, his fellow-collegian, was his intimate
correspondent. Of the two sisters, the eldest married captain Graves of
Thanks, near Saltash in Cornwall, a sea-officer, and died in 1738,
leaving some children behind her; and the other is still alive,
unmarried. The father Dr. Gilbert Budgell, was esteemed a sensible man,
and has published a discourse upon Prayer, and some Sermons.
 See Budgell's Letter to Cleomenes. Appendix p. 79.
 See The Bee, vol. ii. p. 854.
 'Till then it was usual to discontinue an epilogue after the sixth
night. But this was called for by the audience, and continued for
the whole run of this play: Budgell did not scruple to sit in the
it, and call for it himself.
 Vide Bee, Vol. II. page 1105.
 Alluding to Cato's destroying himself.
 There is an Epigram of our author's, which I don't remember to have
seen published any where, written upon the death of a very fine
She was, she is,
(What can theremore be said)
On Earth [the] first,
In Heav'n the second Maid.
[Transcriber's note: Print unclear, word in square bracket assumed.]
See a Song of our author's in Steele's Miscellanies, published in
1714. Page 210.
There is an Epigram of his printed in the same book and in many
collections, Upon a Company of bad Dancers to good Music.
How ill the motion with the music suits!
So fiddled Orpheus--and so danc'd the Brutes.
* * * * *
THOMAS TICKELL, Esq.
This Gentleman, well known, to the world by the friendship and intimacy
which subsisted between him and Mr. Addison, was the son of the revd.
Mr. Richard Tickell, who enjoy'd a considerable preferment in the North
of England. Our poet received his education at Queen's-College in
Oxford, of which he was a fellow.
While he was at that university, he wrote a beautiful copy of verses
addressed to Mr. Addison, on his Opera of Rosamond. These verses
contained many elegant compliments to the author, in which he compares
his softness to Corelli, and his strength to Virgil.
The Opera first Italian masters taught,
Enrich'd with songs, but innocent of thought;
Britannia's learned theatre disdains
Melodious trifles, and enervate strains;
And blushes on her injur'd stage to see,
Nonsense well tun'd with sweet stupidity.
No charms are wanting to thy artful song
Soft as Corelli, and as Virgil strong.
These complimentary lines, a few of which we have now quoted, so
effectually recommended him to Mr. Addison, that he held him in esteem
ever afterwards; and when he himself was raised to the dignity of
secretary of state, he appointed Mr. Tickell his under-secretary. Mr.
Addison being obliged to resign on account of his ill-state of health,
Mr. Craggs who succeeded him, continued Mr. Tickell in his place, which
he held till that gentleman's death. When Mr. Addison was appointed
secretary, being a diffident man, he consulted with his friends about
disposing such places as were immediately dependent on him. He
communicated to Sir Richard Steele, his design of preferring Mr. Tickell
to be his under-secretary, which Sir Richard, who considered him as a
petulant man, warmly opposed. He observed that Mr. Tickell was of a
temper too enterprising to be governed, and as he had no opinion of his
honour, he did not know what might be the consequence, if by insinuation
and flattery, or by bolder means, he ever had an opportunity of raising
himself. It holds pretty generally true, that diffident people under the
appearance of distrusting their own opinions, are frequently positive,
and though they pursue their resolutions with trembling, they never fail
to pursue them. Mr. Addison had a little of this temper in him. He could
not be persuaded to set aside Mr. Tickell, nor even had secrecy enough
to conceal from him Sir Richard's opinion. This produced a great
animosity between Sir Richard and Mr. Tickell, which subsisted during
Mr. Tickell in his life of Addison, prefixed to his own edition of that
great man's works, throws out some unmannerly reflexions against Sir
Richard, who was at that time in Scotland, as one of the commissioners
on the forfeited estates. Upon Sir Richard's return to London, he
dedicates to Mr. Congreve, Addison's Comedy, called the Drummer, in
which he takes occasion very smartly to retort upon Tickell, and clears
himself of the imputation laid to his charge, namely that of valuing
himself upon Mr. Addison's papers in the Spectator.
In June 1724 Mr. Tickell was appointed secretary to the Lords Justices
in Ireland, a place says Mr. Coxeter, which he held till his death,
which happened in the year 1740.
It does not appear that Mr. Tickell was in any respect ungrateful to Mr.
Addison, to whom he owed his promotion; on the other hand we find him
take every opportunity to celebrate him, which he always performs with
so much zeal, and earnestness, that he seems to have retained the most
lasting sense of his patron's favours. His poem to the earl of Warwick
on the death of Mr. Addison, is very pathetic. He begins it thus,
If dumb too long, the drooping Muse hath stray'd,
And left her debt to Addison unpaid,
Blame not her silence, Warwick, but bemoan,
And judge, O judge, my bosom by your own.
What mourner ever felt poetic fires!
Slow comes the verse, that real woe inspires:
Grief unaffected suits but ill with art,
Or flowing numbers with a bleeding heart.
Mr. Tickell's works are printed in the second volume of the Minor Poets,
and he is by far the most considerable writer amongst them. He has a
very happy talent in versification, which much exceeds Addison's, and is
inferior to few of the English Poets, Mr. Dryden and Pope excepted. The
first poem in this collection is addressed to the supposed author of the
In the year 1713 Mr. Tickell wrote a poem, called The Prospect of Peace,
addressed to his excellency the lord privy-seal; which met with so
favourable a reception from the public, as to go thro' six editions. The
sentiments in this poem are natural, and obvious, but no way
extraordinary. It is an assemblage of pretty notions, poetically
expressed; but conducted with no kind of art, and altogether without a
plan. The following exordium is one of the most shining parts of the
Far hence be driv'n to Scythia's stormy shore
The drum's harsh music, and the cannon's roar;
Let grim Bellona haunt the lawless plain,
Where Tartar clans, and grizly Cossacks reign;
Let the steel'd Turk be deaf to Matrons cries,
See virgins ravish'd, with relentless eyes,
To death, grey heads, and smiling infants doom.
Nor spare the promise of the pregnant womb:
O'er wafted kingdoms spread his wide command.
The savage lord of an unpeopled land.
Her guiltless glory just Britannia draws
From pure religion, and impartial laws,
To Europe's wounds a mother's aid she brings,
And holds in equal scales the rival kings:
Her gen'rous sons in choicest gifts abound,
Alike in arms, alike in arts renown'd.
The Royal Progress. This poem is mentioned in the Spectator, in
opposition to such performances, as are generally written in a swelling
stile, and in which the bombast is mistaken for the sublime. It is meant
as a compliment to his late majesty, on his arrival in his British
An imitation of the Prophesy of Nereus. Horace, Book I. Ode XV.--This
was written about the year 1715, and intended as a ridicule upon the
enterprize of the earl of Marr; which he prophesies will be crushed by
the duke of Argyle.
An Epistle from a Lady in England, to a gentleman at Avignon. Of this
piece five editions were sold; it is written in the manner of a Lady to
a Gentleman, whose principles obliged him to be an exile with the Royal
Wanderer. The great propension of the Jacobites to place confidence in
imaginary means; and to construe all extraordinary appearances, into
ominous signs of the restoration of their king is very well touched.
Was it for this the sun's whole lustre fail'd,
And sudden midnight o'er the Moon prevail'd!
For this did Heav'n display to mortal eyes
Aerial knights, and combats in the skies!
Was it for this Northumbrian streams look'd red!
And Thames driv'n backwards shew'd his secret bed!
False Auguries! th'insulting victors scorn!
Ev'n our own prodigies against us turn!
O portents constru'd, on our side in vain!
Let never Tory trust eclipse again!
Run clear, ye fountains! be at peace, ye skies;
And Thames, henceforth to thy green borders rise!
An Ode, occasioned by his excellency the earl of Stanhope's Voyage to
A Prologue to the University of Oxford.
Thoughts occasioned by the sight of an original
picture of King Charles the 1st, taken at the time of
A Fragment of a Poem, on Hunting.
A Description of the Phoenix, from Claudian.
To a Lady; with the Description of the Phoenix.
Part of the Fourth Book of Lucan translated.
The First Book of Homer's Iliad.
Several Epistles and Odes.
This translation was published much about the same time with Mr. Pope's.
But it will not bear a comparison; and Mr. Tickell cannot receive a
greater injury, than to have his verses placed in contradistinction to
Pope's. Mr. Melmoth, in his Letters, published under the name of Fitz
Osborne, has produced some parallel passages, little to the advantage of
Mr. Tickell, who if he fell greatly short of the elegance and beauty of
Pope, has yet much exceeded Mr. Congreve, in what he has attempted of
In the life of Addison, some farther particulars concerning this
translation are related; and Sir Richard Steele, in his dedication of
the Drummer to Mr. Congreve, gives it as his opinion, that Addison was
himself the author.
These translations, published at the same time, were certainly meant as
rivals to one another. We cannot convey a more adequate idea of this,
than in the words of Mr. Pope, in a Letter to James Craggs, Esq.; dated
July the 15th, 1715.
'They tell me, the busy part of the nation are not more busy about Whig
and Tory; than these idle-fellows of the feather, about Mr. Tickell's
and my translation. I (like the Tories) have the town in general, that
is, the mob on my side; but it is usual with the smaller part to make up
in industry, what they want in number; and that is the case with the
little senate of Cato. However, if our principles be well considered, I
must appear a brave Whig, and Mr. Tickell a rank Tory. I translated
Homer, for the public in general, he to gratify the inordinate desires
of one man only. We have, it seems, a great Turk in poetry, who can
never bear a brother on the throne; and has his Mutes too, a set of
Medlers, Winkers, and Whisperers, whose business 'tis to strangle all
other offsprings of wit in their birth. The new translator of Homer, is
the humblest slave he has, that is to say, his first minister; let him
receive the honours he gives me, but receive them with fear and
trembling; let him be proud of the approbation of his absolute lord, I
appeal to the people, as my rightful judges, and masters; and if they
are not inclined to condemn me, I fear no arbitrary high-flying
proceeding, from the Court faction at Button's. But after all I have
said of this great man, there is no rupture between us. We are each of
us so civil, and obliging, that neither thinks he's obliged: And I for
my part, treat with him, as we do with the Grand Monarch; who has too
many great qualities, not to be respected, though we know he watches any
occasion to oppress us.'
Thus we have endeavoured to exhibit an Idea of the writings of Mr.
Tickell, a man of a very elegant genius: As there appears no great
invention in his works, if he cannot be placed in the first rank of
Poets; yet from the beauty of his numbers, and the real poetry which
enriched his imagination, he has, at least, an unexceptionable claim to
* * * * *
Mr. WILLIAM HINCHLIFFE,
was the son of a reputable tradesman of St. Olave's in Southwark, and
was born there May 12, 1692; was educated at a private grammar school
with his intimate and ingenious friend Mr. Henry Needler. He made a
considerable progress in classical learning, and had a poetical genius.
He served an apprenticeship to Mr. Arthur Bettesworth, Bookseller in
London, and afterwards followed that business himself near thirty years,
under the Royal Exchange, with reputation and credit, having the esteem
and friendship of many eminent merchants and gentlemen. In 1718 he
married Jane, one of the daughters of Mr. William Leigh, an eminent
citizen. Mrs. Hinchliffe was sister of William Leigh, esq; one of his
Majesty's justices of the peace for the county of Surry, and of the
revd. Thomas Leigh, late rector of Heyford in Oxfordshire, by whom he
had two sons and three daughters, of which only one son and one daughter
are now living. He died September 20, 1742, and was buried in the parish
church of St. Margaret's Lothbury, London.
In 1714 he had the honour to present an Ode to King George I. on his
Arrival at Greenwich, which is printed in a Collection of Poems,
Amorous, Moral, and Divine, which he published in octavo, 1718, and
dedicated them to his friend Mr. Needler.
He published a History of the Rebellion of 1715, and dedicated it to the
late Duke of Argyle.
He made himself master of the French tongue by his own application and
study; and in 1734 published a Translation of Boulainvillers's Life of
Mahomet, which is well esteemed, and dedicated it to his intimate and
worthy friend Mr. William Duncombe, Esq;
He was concerned, with others, in the publishing several other ingenious
performances, and has left behind him in manuscript, a Translation of
the nine first Books of Telemachus in blank Verse, which cost him great
labour, but he did not live to finish the remainder.
He is the author of a volume of poems in 8vo, many of which are written
with a true poetical spirit.
O come Lavinia, lovely maid,
Said Dion, stretch'd at ease,
Beneath the walnut's fragrant shade,
A sweet retreat! by nature made
With elegance to please.
O leave the court's deceitful glare,
Loath'd pageantry and pride,
Come taste our solid pleasures here.
Which angels need not blush to share,
And with bless'd men divide.
What raptures were it in these bow'rs,
Fair virgin, chaste, and wise,
With thee to lose the learned hours,
And note the beauties in these flowers,
Conceal'd from vulgar eyes.
For thee my gaudy garden blooms,
And richly colour'd glows;
Above the pomp of royal rooms,
Or purpled works of Persian looms,
Proud palaces disclose.
Haste, nymph, nor let me sigh in vain,
Each grace attends on thee;
Exalt my bliss, and point my strain,
For love and truth are of thy train,
Content and harmony.
 This piece is not in Mr. Hinchliffe's works, but is assuredly his.
* * * * *
MR. MATTHEW CONCANEN.
This gentleman was a native of Ireland, and was bred to the Law. In this
profession he seems not to have made any great figure. By some means or
other he conceived an aversion to Dr. Swift, for his abuse of whom, the
world taxed him with ingratitude. Concanen had once enjoyed some degree
of Swift's favour, who was not always very happy in the choice of his
companions. He had an opportunity of reading some of the Dr's poems in
MS. which it is said he thought fit to appropriate and publish as his
As affairs did not much prosper with him in Ireland, he came over to
London, in company with another gentleman, and both commenced writers.
These two friends entered into an extraordinary agreement. As the
subjects which then attracted the attention of mankind were of a
political cast, they were of opinion that no species of writing could so
soon recommend them to public notice; and in order to make their trade
more profitable, they resolved to espouse different interests; one
should oppose, and the other defend the ministry. They determined the
side of the question each was to espouse, by tossing up a half-penny,
and it fell to the share of Mr. Concanen to defend the ministry, which
task he performed with as much ability, as political writers generally
He was for some time, concerned in the British, and London Journals, and
a paper called The Speculatist. These periodical pieces are long since
buried in neglect, and perhaps would have even sunk into oblivion, had
not Mr. Pope, by his satyrical writings, given them a kind of
disgraceful immortality. In these Journals he published many
scurrilities against Mr. Pope; and in a pamphlet called, The Supplement
to the Profound, he used him with great virulence, and little candour.
He not only imputed to him Mr. Brome's verses (for which he might indeed
seem in some degree accountable, having corrected what that gentleman
did) but those of the duke of Buckingham and others. To this rare piece
some body humorously perswaded him to take for his motto, De profundis
clamavi. He afterwards wrote a paper called The Daily Courant, wherein
he shewed much spleen against lord Bolingbroke, and some of his friends.
All these provocations excited Mr. Pope to give him a place in his
Dunciad. In his second book, l. 287, when he represents the dunces
diving in the mud of the Thames for the prize, he speaks thus of
True to the bottom see Concanen creep,
A cold, long winded, native of the deep!
If perseverance gain the diver's prize,
Not everlasting Blackmore this denies.
In the year 1725 Mr. Concanen published a volume of poems in 8vo.
consisting chiefly of compositions of his own, and some few of other
gentlemen; they are addressed to the lord Gage, whom he endeavours
artfully to flatter, without offending his modesty. 'I shall begin this
Address, says he, by declaring that the opinion I have of a great part
of the following verses, is the highest indication of the esteem in
which I hold the noble character I present them to. Several of them have
authors, whose names do honour to whatever patronage they receive. As to
my share of them, since it is too late, after what I have already
delivered, to give my opinion of them, I'll say as much as can be said
in their favour. I'll affirm that they have one mark of merit, which is
your lordship's approbation; and that they are indebted to fortune for
two other great advantages, a place in good company, and an honourable
The gentlemen, who assisted Concanen in this collection, were Dean
Swift, Mr. Parnel, Dr. Delany, Mr. Brown, Mr. Ward, and Mr. Stirling. In
this collection there is a poem by Mr. Concanen, called A Match at
Football, in three Cantos; written, 'tis said, in imitation of The Rape
of the Lock. This performance is far from being despicable; the
verification is generally smooth; the design is not ill conceived, and
the characters not unnatural. It perhaps would be read with more
applause, if The Rape of the Lock did not occur to the mind, and, by
forcing a comparison, destroy all the satisfaction in perusing it; as
the disproportion is so very considerable. We shall quote a few lines
from the beginning of the third canto, by which it will appear that
Concanen was not a bad rhimer.
In days of yore a lovely country maid
Rang'd o'er these lands, and thro' these forests stray'd;
Modest her pleasures, matchless was her frame,
Peerless her face, and Sally was her name.
By no frail vows her young desires were bound,
No shepherd yet the way to please her found.
Thoughtless of love the beauteous nymph appear'd,
Nor hop'd its transports, nor its torments fear'd.
But careful fed her flocks, and grac'd the plain,
She lack'd no pleasure, and she felt no pain.
She view'd our motions when we toss'd the ball,
And smil'd to see us take, or ward, a fall;
'Till once our leader chanc'd the nymph to spy,
And drank in poison from her lovely eye.
Now pensive grown, he shunn'd the long-lov'd plains,
His darling pleasures, and his favour'd swains,
Sigh'd in her absence, sigh'd when she was near,
Now big with hope, and now dismay'd with fear;
At length with falt'ring tongue he press'd the dame,
For some returns to his unpity'd flame;
But she disdain'd his suit, despis'd his care,
His form unhandsome, and his bristled hair;
Forward she sprung, and with an eager pace
The god pursu'd, nor fainted in the race;
Swift as the frighted hind the virgin flies,
When the woods ecchoe to the hunters cries:
Swift as the fleetest hound her flight she trac'd,
When o'er the lawns the frighted hind is chac'd;
The winds which sported with her flowing vest
Display'd new charms, and heightened all the rest:
Those charms display'd, increas'd the gods desire,
What cool'd her bosom, set his breast on fire:
With equal speed, for diff'rent ends they move,
Fear lent the virgin wings, the shepherd love:
Panting at length, thus in her fright she pray'd,
Be quick ye pow'rs, and save a wretched maid.
[Protect] my honour, shelter me from shame,
[Beauty] and life with pleasure I disclaim.
[Transcriber's note: print unclear for words in square brackets,
therefore words are assumed.]
Mr. Concanen was also concerned with the late Mr. Roome [Transcriber's
note: print unclear, "m" assumed], and a certain eminent senator, in
making The Jovial Crew, an old Comedy, into a Ballad Opera; which was
performed about the year 1730; and the profits were given entirely to
Mr. Concanen. Soon after he was preferred to be attorney-general in
Jamaica, a post of considerable eminence, and attended with a very large
income. In this island he spent the remaining part of his days, and, we
are informed made a tolerable accession of fortune, by marrying a
planter's daughter, who surviving him was left in the possession of
several hundred pounds a year. She came over to England after his death,
and married the honourable Mr. Hamilton.
* * * * *
RICHARD SAVAGE, Esq;
This unhappy gentleman, who led a course of life imbittered with the
most severe calamities, was not yet destitute of a friend to close his
eyes. It has been remarked of Cowley, who likewise experienced many of
the vicissitudes of fortune, that he was happy in the acquaintance of
the bishop of Rochester, who performed the last offices which can be
paid to a poet, in the elegant Memorial he made of his Life. Though Mr.
Savage was as much inferior to Cowley in genius, as in the rectitude of
his life, yet, in some respect, he bears a resemblance to that great
man. None of the poets have been more honoured in the commemoration of
their history, than this gentleman. The life of Mr. Savage was written
some years after his death by a gentleman, who knew him intimately,
capable to distinguish between his follies, and those good qualities
which were often concealed from the bulk of mankind by the abjectness of
his condition. From this account we have compiled that which we now
present to the reader.
In the year 1697 Anne countess of Macclesfield, having lived for some
time on very uneasy terms with her husband, thought a public confession
of adultery the most expeditious method of obtaining her liberty, and
therefore declared the child with which she then was big was begotten by
the earl of Rivers. This circumstance soon produced a separation, which,
while the earl of Macclesfield was prosecuting, the countess, on the
10th of January 1697-8, was delivered of our author; and the earl of
Rivers, by appearing to consider him as his own, left no room to doubt
of her declaration. However strange it may appear, the countess looked
upon her son, from his birth, with a kind of resentment and abhorrence.
No sooner was her son born, than she discovered a resolution of
disowning him, in a short time removed him from her sight, and committed
him to the care of a poor woman, whom she directed to educate him as her
own, and enjoined her never to inform him of his true parents. Instead
of defending his tender years, she took delight to see him struggling
with misery, and continued her persecution, from the first hour of his
life to the last, with an implacable and restless cruelty. His mother,
indeed, could not affect others with the same barbarity, and though she,
whose tender sollicitudes should have supported him, had launched him
into the ocean of life, yet was he not wholly abandoned. The lady Mason,
mother to the countess, undertook to transact with the nurse, and
superintend the education of the child. She placed him at a grammar
school near St. Albans, where he was called by the name of his nurse,
without the least intimation that he had a claim to any other. While he
was at this school, his father, the earl of Rivers, was seized with a
distemper which in a short time put an end to his life. While the earl
lay on his death-bed, he thought it his duty to provide for him, amongst
his other natural children, and therefore demanded a positive account of
him. His mother, who could no longer refuse an answer, determined, at
least, to give such, as should deprive him for ever of that happiness
which competency affords, and declared him dead; which is, perhaps, the
first instance of a falshood invented by a mother, to deprive her son of
a provision which was designed him by another. The earl did not imagine
that there could exist in nature, a mother that would ruin her son,
without enriching herself, and therefore bestowed upon another son six
thousand pounds, which he had before in his will bequeathed to Savage.
The same cruelty which incited her to intercept this provision intended
him, suggested another project, worthy of such a disposition. She
endeavoured to rid herself from the danger of being at any time made
known to him, by sending him secretly to the American Plantations; but
in this contrivance her malice was defeated.
Being still restless in the persecution of her son, she formed another
scheme of burying him in poverty and obscurity; and that the state of
his life, if not the place of his residence, might keep him for ever at
a distance from her, she ordered him to be placed with a Shoemaker in
Holbourn, that after the usual time of trial he might become his
apprentice. It is generally reported, that this project was, for some
time, successful, and that Savage was employed at the awl longer than he
was willing to confess; but an unexpected discovery determined him to
quit his occupation.
About this time his nurse, who had always treated him as her own son,
died; and it was natural for him to take care of those effects, which by
her death were, as he imagined, become his own. He therefore went to her
house, opened her boxes, examined her papers, and found some letters
written to her by the lady Mason, which informed him of his birth, and
the reasons for which it was concealed.
He was now no longer satisfied with the employment which had been
allotted him, but thought he had a right to share the affluence of his
mother, and therefore, without scruple, applied to her as her son, and
made use of every art to awake her tenderness, and attract her regard.
It was to no purpose that he frequently sollicited her to admit him to
see her, she avoided him with the utmost precaution, and ordered him to
be excluded from her house, by whomsoever he might be introduced, and
what reason soever he might give for entering it.
Savage was at this time so touched with the discovery of his real
mother, that it was his frequent practice to walk in the dark evenings
for several hours before her door, in hopes of seeing her by accident.
But all his assiduity was without effect, for he could neither soften
her heart, nor open her hand, and while he was endeavouring to rouse the
affections of a mother, he was reduced to the miseries of want. In this
situation he was obliged to find other means of support, and became by
necessity an author.
His first attempt in that province was, a poem against the bishop of
Bangor, whose controversy, at that time, engaged the attention of the
nation, and furnished the curious with a topic of dispute. Of this
performance Mr. Savage was afterwards ashamed, as it was the crude
effort of a yet uncultivated genius. He then attempted another kind of
writing, and, while but yet eighteen, offered a comedy to the stage,
built upon a Spanish plot; which was refused by the players. Upon this
he gave it to Mr. Bullock, who, at that time rented the Theatre in
Lincoln's-Inn-Fields of Mr. Rich, and with messieurs Keene, Pack, and
others undertook the direction thereof. Mr. Bullock made some slight
alterations, and brought it upon the stage, under the title of Woman's a
Riddle, but allowed the real author no part of the profit. This
occasioned a quarrel between Savage and Bullock; but it ended without
bloodshed, though not without high words: Bullock insisted he had a
translation of the Spanish play, from whence the plot was taken, given
him by the same lady who had bestowed it on Savage.--Which was not
improbable, as that whimsical lady had given a copy to several others.
Not discouraged, however, at this repulse, he wrote, two years after,
Love in a Veil, another Comedy borrowed likewise from the Spanish, but
with little better success than before; for though it was received and
acted, yet it appeared so late in the year, that Savage obtained no
other advantage from it, than the acquaintance of Sir Richard Steele,
and Mr. Wilks, by whom, says the author of his Life, he was pitied,
caressed, and relieved. Sir Richard Steele declared in his favour, with
that genuine benevolence which constituted his character, promoted his
interest with the utmost zeal, and taking all opportunities of
recommending him; he asserted, 'that the inhumanity of his mother had
given him a right to find every good man his father.' Nor was Mr. Savage
admitted into his acquaintance only, but to his confidence and esteem.
Sir Richard intended to have established him in some settled scheme of
life, and to have contracted a kind of alliance with him, by marrying
him to a natural daughter, on whom he intended to bestow a thousand
pounds. But Sir Richard conducted his affairs with so little oeconomy,
that he was seldom able to raise the sum, which he had offered, and the
marriage was consequently delayed. In the mean time he was officiously
informed that Mr. Savage had ridiculed him; by which he was so much
exasperated that he withdrew the allowance he had paid him, and never
afterwards admitted him to his house.
He was now again abandoned to fortune, without any other friend but Mr.
Wilks, a man to whom calamity seldom complained without relief. He
naturally took an unfortunate wit into his protection, and not only
assisted him in any casual distresses, but continued an equal and steady
kindness to the time of his death. By Mr. Wilks's interposition Mr.
Savage once obtained of his mother fifty pounds, and a promise of one
hundred and fifty more, but it was the fate of this unhappy man, that
few promises of any advantage to him were ever performed.
Being thus obliged to depend [Transcriber's note: 'depended' in
original] upon Mr. Wilks, he was an assiduous frequenter of the
theatres, and, in a short time, the amusements of the stage took such a
possession of his mind, that he was never absent from a play in several
In the year 1723 Mr. Savage brought another piece on the stage. He made
choice of the subject of Sir Thomas Overbury: If the circumstances in
which he wrote it be considered, it will afford at once an uncommon
proof of strength of genius, and an evenness of mind not to be ruffled.
During a considerable part of the time in which he was employed upon
this performance, he was without lodging, and often without food; nor
had he any other conveniencies for study than the fields, or the street;
in which he used to walk, and form his speeches, and afterwards step
into a shop, beg for a few moments the use of pen and ink, and write
down what he had composed, upon paper which he had picked up by
Mr. Savage had been for some time distinguished by Aaron Hill, Esq; with
very particular kindness; and on this occasion it was natural to apply
to him, as an author of established reputation. He therefore sent this
Tragedy to him, with a few verses, in which he desired his correction.
Mr. Hill who was a man of unbounded humanity, and most accomplished
politeness, readily complied with his request; and wrote the prologue
and epilogue, in which he touches the circumstances [Transcriber's note:
'cirumstances' in original] of the author with great tenderness.
Mr. Savage at last brought his play upon the stage, but not till the
chief actors had quitted it, and it was represented by what was then
called the summer-company. In this Tragedy Mr. Savage himself performed
the part of Sir Thomas Overbury, with so little success, that he always
blotted out his name from the list of players, when a copy of his
Tragedy was to be shewn to any of his friends. This play however
procured him the notice and esteem of many persons of distinction, for
some rays of genius glimmered thro' all the mists which poverty and
oppression had spread over it. The whole profits of this performance,
acted, printed, and dedicated, amounted to about 200 l. But the
generosity of Mr. Hill did not end here; he promoted the subscription to
his Miscellanies, by a very pathetic representation of the author's
sufferings, printed in the Plain-Dealer, a periodical paper written by
Mr. Hill. This generous effort in his favour soon produced him
seventy-guineas, which were left for him at Button's, by some who
commiserated his misfortunes.
Mr. Hill not only promoted the subscription to the Miscellany, but
furnished likewise the greatest part of the poems of which it is
composed, and particularly the Happy Man, which he published as a
specimen. To this Miscellany he wrote a preface, in which he gives an
account of his mother's cruelty, in a very uncommon strain of humour,
which the success of his subscriptions probably inspired.
Savage was now advancing in reputation, and though frequently involved
in very perplexing necessities, appeared however to be gaining on
mankind; when both his fame and his life were endangered, by an event of
which it is not yet determined, whether it ought to be mentioned as a
crime or a calamity. As this is by far the most interesting circumstance
in the life of this unfortunate man, we shall relate the particulars
On the 20th of November 1727 Mr. Savage came from Richmond, where he had
retired, that he might pursue his studies with less interruption, with
an intent to discharge a lodging which he had in Westminster; and
accidentally meeting two gentlemen of his acquaintance, whose names were
Marchant and Gregory, he went in with them to a neighbouring
Coffee-House, and sat drinking till it was late. He would willingly have
gone to bed in the same house, but there was not room for the whole
company, and therefore they agreed to ramble about the streets, and
divert themselves with such amusements as should occur till morning. In
their walk they happened unluckily to discover light in Robinson's
Coffee-House, near Charing-Cross, and went in. Marchant with some
rudeness demanded a room, and was told that there was a good fire in the
next parlour, which the company were about to leave, being then paying
their reckoning. Marchant not satisfied with this answer, rushed into
the room, and was followed by his companions. He then petulantly placed
himself between the company and the fire; and soon afterwards kicked
down the table. This produced a quarrel, swords were drawn on both
sides; and one Mr. James Sinclair was killed. Savage having wounded
likewise a maid that held him, forced his way with Gregory out of the
house; but being intimidated, and confus'd, without resolution, whether
to fly, or stay, they were taken in a back court by one of the company,
and some soldiers, whom he had called to his assistance.
When the day of the trial came on, the court was crowded in a very
unusual manner, and the public appeared to interest itself as in a cause
of general concern. The witnesses against Mr. Savage and his friends,
were the woman who kept the house, which was a house of ill-fame, and
her maid, the men who were in the room with Mr. Sinclair, and a woman of
the town, who had been drinking with them, and with whom one of them had
been seen in bed.
They swore in general, that Marchant gave the provocation, which Savage
and Gregory drew their swords to justify; that Savage drew first, that
he stabb'd Sinclair, when he was not in a posture of defence, or while
Gregory commanded his sword; that after he had given the thrust he
turned pale, and would have retired, but that the maid clung round him,
and one of the company endeavoured to detain him, from whom he broke, by
cutting the maid on the head.
Sinclair had declared several times before his death, for he survived
that night, that he received his wound from Savage; nor did Savage at
his trial deny the fact, but endeavoured partly to extenuate it, by
urging the suddenness of the whole action, and the impossibility of any
ill design, or premeditated malice, and partly to justify it by the
necessity of self-defence, and the hazard of his own life, if he had
lost that opportunity of giving the thrust. He observed that neither
reason nor law obliged a man to wait for the blow which was threatened,
and which if he should suffer, he might never be able to return; that it
was always allowable to prevent an assault, and to preserve life, by
taking away that of the adversary, by whom it was endangered.
With regard to the violence with which he endeavoured his escape, he
declared it was not his design to fly from justice, or decline a trial,
but to avoid the expences and severities of a prison, and that he
intended to appear at the bar, without compulsion. This defence which
took up more than an hour, was heard by the multitude that thronged the
court, with the most attentive and respectful silence. Those who thought
he ought not to be acquitted, owned that applause could not be refused
him; and those who before pitied his misfortunes, now reverenced his
The witnesses who appeared against him were proved to be persons of such
characters as did not entitle them to much credit; a common strumpet, a
woman by whom such wretches were entertained, and a man by whom they
were supported. The character of Savage was by several persons of
distinction asserted to be that of a modest inoffensive man, not
inclined to broils, or to insolence, and who had to that time been only
known by his misfortunes and his wit.
Had his audience been his judges, he had undoubtedly been acquitted; but
Mr. Page, who was then upon the bench, treated him with the most brutal
severity, and in summing up the evidence endeavoured to exasperate the
jury against him, and misrepresent his defence. This was a provocation,
and an insult, which the prisoner could not bear, and therefore Mr.
Savage resolutely asserted, that his cause was not candidly explained,
and began to recapitulate what he had before said; but the judge having
ordered him to be silent, which Savage treated with contempt, he
commanded that he should be taken by force from the bar. The jury then
heard the opinion of the judge, that good characters were of no weight
against positive evidence, though they might turn the scale, where it
was doubtful; and that though two men attack each other, the death of
either is only manslaughter; but where one is the aggressor, as in the
case before them, and in pursuance of his first attack kills the other,
the law supposes the action, however sudden, to be malicious. The jury
determined, that Mr. Savage and Mr. Gregory were guilty of murder, and
Mr. Marchant who had no sword, only manslaughter.
Mr. Savage and Mr. Gregory were conducted back to prison, where they
were more closely confined, and loaded with irons of fifty pound weight.
Savage had now no hopes of life but from the king's mercy, and can it be
believed, that mercy his own mother endeavoured to intercept.
When Savage (as we have already observed) was first made acquainted with
the story of his birth, he was so touched with tenderness for his
mother, that he earnestly sought an opportunity to see her.
To prejudice the queen against him, she made use of an incident, which
was omitted in the order of time, that it might be mentioned together
with the purpose it was made to serve.
One evening while he was walking, as was his custom, in the street she
inhabited, he saw the door of her house by accident open; he entered it,
and finding no persons in the passage to prevent him, went up stairs to
salute her. She discovered him before he could enter her chamber,
alarmed the family with the most distressful out-cries, and when she had
by her screams gathered them about her, ordered them to drive out of the
house that villain, who had forced himself in upon her, and endeavoured
to murder her.
This abominable falsehood his mother represented to the queen, or
communicated it to some who were base enough to relate it, and so
strongly prepossessed her majesty against this unhappy man, that for a
long while she rejected all petitions that were offered in his favour.
Thus had Savage perished by the evidence of a bawd, of a strumpet, and
of his mother; had not justice and compassion procured him an advocate,
of a rank too great to be rejected unheard, and of virtue too eminent to
be heard without being believed. The story of his sufferings reached the
ear of the countess of Hertford, who engaged in his support with the
tenderness and humanity peculiar to that amiable lady. She demanded an
audience of the queen, and laid before her the whole series of his
mother's cruelty, exposed the improbability of her accusation of murder,
and pointed out all the circumstances of her unequall'd barbarity.
The interposition of this lady was so successful, that he was soon after
admitted to bail, and on the 9th of March 1728, pleaded the king's
Mr. Savage during his imprisonment, his trial, and the time in which he
lay under sentence of death, behaved with great fortitude, and confirmed
by his unshaken equality of mind, the esteem of those who before admired
him for his abilities. Upon weighing all the circumstances relating to
this unfortunate event, it plainly appears that the greatest guilt could
not be imputed to Savage. His killing Sinclair, was rather rash than
totally dishonourable, for though Marchant had been the aggressor, who
would not procure his friend from being over-powered by numbers?
Some time after he had obtained his liberty, he met in the street the
woman of the town that had swore against him: She informed him that she
was in distress, and with unparalleled assurance desired him to relieve
her. He, instead of insulting her misery, and taking pleasure in the
calamity of one who had brought his life into danger, reproved her
gently for her perjury, and changing the only guinea he had, divided it
equally between her and himself.
Compassion seems indeed to have been among the few good qualities
possessed by Savage; he never appeared inclined to take the advantage of
weakness, to attack the defenceless, or to press upon the falling:
Whoever was distressed was certain at last of his good wishes. But when
his heart was not softened by the sight of misery, he was obstinate in
his resentment, and did not quickly lose the remembrance of an injury.
He always harboured the sharpest resentment against judge Page; and a
short time before his death, he gratified it in a satire upon that
When in conversation this unhappy subject was mentioned, Savage appeared
neither to consider himself as a murderer, nor as a man wholly free from
blood. How much, and how long he regretted it, appeared in a poem
published many years afterwards, which the following lines will set in a
very striking light.
Is chance a guilt, that my disast'rous heart,
For mischief never meant, must ever smart?
Can self-defence be sin?--Ah! plead no more!
What tho' no purpos'd malice stain'd thee o'er;
Had Heav'n befriended thy unhappy side,
Thou had'st not been provok'd, or thou had'st died.
Far be the guilt of home-shed blood from all,
On whom, unfought, imbroiling dangers fall.
Still the pale dead revives and lives to me,
To me through pity's eye condemn'd to see.
Remembrance veils his rage, but swells his fate,
Griev'd I forgive, and am grown cool too late,
Young and unthoughtful then, who knows one day,
What rip'ning virtues might have made their way?
He might, perhaps, his country's friend have prov'd,
Been gen'rous, happy, candid and belov'd;
He might have sav'd some worth now doom'd to fall,
And I, perchance, in him have murder'd all.
Savage had now obtained his liberty, but was without any settled means
of support, and as he had lost all tenderness for his mother, who had
thirsted for his blood, he resolved to lampoon her, to extort that
pension by satire, which he knew she would never grant upon any
principles of honour, or humanity. This expedient proved successful;
whether shame still survived, though compassion 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
Tyrconnel, whatever were his motives, upon his promise to lay aside the
design of exposing his mother, received him into his family, treated him
as his equal, and engaged to allow him a pension of 200 l. a year.
This was the golden part of Mr. Savage's life; for some time he had no
reason to complain of fortune; his appearance was splendid, his expences
large, and his acquaintance extensive. 'He was courted, says the author
of his life, by all who endeavoured to be thought men of genius, and
caressed by all that valued themselves upon a fine taste. To admire Mr.
Savage was a proof of discernment, and to be acquainted with him was a
title to poetical reputation. His presence was sufficient to make any
place of entertainment popular; and his approbation and example
constituted the fashion. So 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 at once an opportunity
of exercising their vanity, and practising their duty. This interval of
prosperity furnished him with opportunities of enlarging his knowledge
of human nature, by contemplating life from its highest gradation to its
In this gay period of life, when he was surrounded by the affluence of
pleasure, 1729, he published the Wanderer, a Moral Poem, of which the
design is comprised in these lines.
I fly all public care, all venal strife,
To try the _Still_, compared with _Active Life_.
To prove by these the sons of men may owe,
The fruits of bliss to bursting clouds of woe,
That ev'n calamity by thought refin'd
Inspirits, and adorns the thinking mind.
And more distinctly in the following passage:
By woe the soul to daring actions swells,
By woe in plaintless patience it excells;
From patience prudent, clear experience springs,
And traces knowledge through the course of things.
Thence hope is form'd, thence fortitude, success,
Renown--Whate'er men covet or caress.
This performance was always considered by Mr. Savage as his
master-piece; but Mr. Pope, when he asked his opinion of it, told him,
that he read it once over, and was not displeased with it, that it gave
him more pleasure at the second perusal, and delighted him still more at
the third. From a poem so successfully written, it might be reasonably
expected that he should have gained considerable advantages; but the
case was otherwise; he sold the copy only for ten guineas. That he got
so small a price for so finished a poem, was not to be imputed either to
the necessity of the writer, or to the avarice of the bookseller. He was
a slave to his passions, and being then in the pursuit of some trifling
gratification, for which he wanted a supply of money, he sold his poem
to the first bidder, and perhaps for the first price which was proposed,
and probably would have been content with less, if less had been
offered. It was addressed to the earl of Tyrconnel, not only in the
first lines, but in a formal dedication, filled with the highest strains
of panegyric. 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 said, he then discovered, had not deserved them.
Of this quarrel, lord Tyrconnel and Mr. Savage assigned very different
reasons. Lord Tyrconnel charged Savage with the most licentious
behaviour, introducing company into his house, and practising with them
the most irregular frolics, and committing all the outrages of
drunkenness. Lord Tyrconnel farther alledged against Savage, that the
books of which he himself had made him a present, were sold or pawned by
him, so that he had often the mortification to see them exposed to sale
Savage, it seems, was so accustomed to live by expedients, that
affluence could not raise him above them. He often went to the tavern
and trusted the payment of his reckoning to the liberality of his
company; and frequently of company to whom he was very little known.
This conduct indeed, seldom drew him into much inconvenience, or his
conversation and address were 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 an enemy.
Mr. Savage on the other hand declared, that lord Tyrconnel quarrelled
with him because he would not subtract 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 which 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 upon nothing.
Savage's passions were strong, among which his resentment was not the
weakest; and as gratitude was not his constant virtue, we ought not too
hastily to give credit to all his prejudice asserts against (his once
praised patron) lord Tyrconnel.
During his continuance with the lord Tyrconnel, he wrote the Triumph of
Health and Mirth, on the recovery of the lady Tyrconnel, from a
languishing illness. This poem is built upon a beautiful fiction. Mirth
overwhelmed with sickness for the death of a favourite, takes a flight
in quest of her sister Health, whom she finds reclined upon the brow of
a lofty mountain, amidst the fragrance of a perpetual spring, and the
breezes of the morning sporting about her. Being solicited by her sister
Mirth, she readily promises her assistance, flies away in a cloud, and
impregnates the waters of Bath with new virtues, by which the sickness
of Belinda is relieved.
While Mr. Savage continued in high life, he did not let slip any
opportunity to examine whether the merit of the great is magnified or
diminished by the medium through which it is contemplated, and whether
great men were selected for high stations, or high stations made great
men. The result of his observations is not much to the advantage of
those in power.
But the golden aera of Savage's life was now at an end, he was banished
the table of lord Tyrconnel, and turned again a-drift upon the world.
While he was in prosperity, he did not behave with a moderation likely
to procure friends amongst his inferiors. He took an opportunity in the
sun-shine of his fortune, to revenge himself of those creatures, who, as
they are the worshippers of power, made court to him, whom they had
before contemptuously treated. This assuming behaviour of Savage was not
altogether unnatural. He had been avoided and despised by those
despicable sycophants, who were proud of his acquaintance when railed to
eminence. In this case, who would not spurn such mean Beings? His
degradation therefore from the condition which he had enjoyed with so
much superiority, was considered by many as an occasion of triumph.
Those who had courted him without success, had an opportunity to return
the contempt they had suffered.
Mean time, Savage was very diligent in exposing the faults of lord
Tyrconnel, over whom he obtained at least this advantage, that he drove
him first to the practice of outrage and violence; for he was so much
provoked by his wit and virulence, that he came with a number of
attendants, to beat him at a coffee-house; but it happened that he had
left the place a few minutes before: Mr. Savage went next day to repay
his visit at his own house, but was prevailed upon by his domestics to
retire without insisting upon seeing him.
He now thought himself again at full liberty to expose the cruelty of
his mother, and therefore about this time published THE BASTARD, a Poem
remarkable for the vivacity in the beginning, where he makes a pompous
enumeration of the imaginary advantages of base birth, and the pathetic
sentiments at the close; where he recounts the real calamities which he
suffered by the crime of his parents.
The verses which have an immediate relation to those two circumstances,
we shall here insert.
In gayer hours, when high my fancy ran,
The Muse exulting thus her lay began.
Bless'd be the Bastard's birth! thro' wond'rous ways,
He shines excentric like a comet's blaze.
No sickly fruit of faint compliance he;
He! stamp'd in nature's mint with extasy!
He lives to build, not boast a gen'rous race,
No tenth transmitter of a foolish face.
His daring hope, no fire's example bounds;
His first-born nights no prejudice confounds.
He, kindling from within requires no flame,
He glories in a bastard's glowing name.
--Nature's unbounded son he stands alone,
His heart unbiass'd, and his mind his own.
--O mother! yet no mother!--'Tis to you
My thanks for such distinguish'd claims are due.
--What had I lost if conjugally kind,
By nature hating, yet by vows confin'd,
You had faint drawn me with a form alone,
A lawful lump of life, by force your own!
--I had been born your dull domestic heir,
Load of your life and motive of your care;
Perhaps been poorly rich and meanly great;
The slave of pomp, a cypher in the state:
Lordly neglectful of a worth unknown,
And slumb'ring in a feat by chance my own,
After mentioning the death of Sinclair, he goes on thus:
--Where shall my hope find rest?--No mother's care
Shielded my infant innocence with prayer;
No father's guardian hand my youth maintain'd,
Call'd forth my virtues, and from vice refrain'd.
This poem had extraordinary success, great numbers were immediately
dispersed, and editions were multiplied with unusual rapidity.
One circumstance attended the publication, which Savage used to relate
with great satisfaction. His mother, to whom the poem with due reverence
was inscribed, happened then to be at Bath, where she could not
conveniently retire from censure, or conceal herself from observation;
and no sooner did the reputation of the poem begin to spread, than she
heard it repeated in all places of concourse; nor could she enter the
assembly rooms, or cross the walks, without being saluted with some
lines from the Bastard. She therefore left Bath with the utmost haste,
to shelter herself in the crowds of London. Thus Savage had the
satisfaction of finding, that tho' he could not reform, he could yet
punish his mother.
Some time after Mr. Savage took a resolution of applying to the queen,
that having once given him life, she would enable him to support it, and
therefore published a short poem on her birth day, to which he gave the
odd title of Volunteer-Laureat. He had not at that time one friend to
present his poem at court, yet the Queen, notwithstanding this act of
ceremony was wanting, in a few days after publication, sent him a bank
note of fifty-pounds, by lord North and Guildford; and her permission to
write annually on the same subject, and that he should yearly receive
the like present, till something better should be done for him. After
this he was permitted to present one of his annual poems to her majesty,
and had the honour of kissing her hand.
When the dispute between the bishop of London, and the chancellor,
furnished for some time the chief topic of conversation, Mr. Savage who
was an enemy to all claims of ecclesiastical power, engaged with his
usual zeal against the bishop. In consequence of his aversion to the
dominion of superstitious churchmen, he wrote a poem called The Progress
of a Divine, in which he conducts a profligate priest thro' all the
gradations of wickedness, from a poor curacy in the country, to the
highest preferment in the church; and after describing his behaviour in
every station, enumerates that this priest thus accomplished, found at
last a patron in the bishop of London.
The clergy were universally provoked with this satire, and Savage was
censured in the weekly Miscellany, with a severity he did not seem
inclined to forget: But a return of invective was not thought a
sufficient punishment. The court of King's-Bench was 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 only criminal, when it was
intended to promote the practice of vice; but that Mr. Savage had only
introduced obscene ideas, with a view of exposing them to detestation,
and of amending the age, by shewing the deformity of wickedness. This
plea was admitted, and Sir Philip York, now lord Chancellor, who then
presided in that court, dismissed the information, with encomiums upon
the purity and excellence of Mr. Savage's writings.
He was still in his usual exigencies, having no certain support, but the
pension allowed him from the Queen, which was not sufficient to last him
the fourth part of the year. His conduct, with regard to his pension,
was very particular. No sooner had he changed the bill, than he vanished
from the sight of all his acquaintances, and lay, for some time, out of
the reach of his most intimate friends. At length he appeared again
pennyless as before, but never informed any person where he had been,
nor was his retreat ever discovered. This was his constant practice
during the whole time he received his pension. He regularly disappeared,
and returned. He indeed affirmed that he retired to study, and that the
money supported him in solitude for many months, but his friends
declared, that the short time in which it was spent, sufficiently
confuted his own account of his conduct.
His perpetual indigence, politeness, and wit, still raised him friends,
who were desirous to set him above want, and therefore sollicited Sir
Robert Walpole in his favour, but though promises were given, and Mr.
Savage trusted, and was trusted, yet these added but one mortification
more to the many he had suffered. His hopes of preferment from that
statesman; issued in a disappointment; upon which he published a poem in
the Gentleman's Magazine, entitled, The Poet's Dependance on a
Statesman; in which he complains of the severe usage he met with. But to
despair was no part of the character of Savage; when one patronage
failed, he had recourse to another. The Prince was now extremely
popular, and had very liberally rewarded the merit of some writers, whom
Mr. Savage did not think superior to himself; and therefore he resolved
to address a poem to him.
For this purpose he made choice of a subject, which could regard only
persons of the highest rank, and greatest affluence, and which was
therefore proper for a poem intended to procure the patronage of a
prince; namely, public spirit, with regard to public works. But having
no friend upon whom he could prevail to present it to the Prince, he had
no other method of attracting his observation, than by publishing
frequent advertisements, and therefore received no reward from his
patron, however generous upon other occasions. His poverty still
pressing, he lodged as much by accident, as he dined; for he generally
lived by chance, eating only when he was invited to the tables of his
acquaintance, from which, the meanness of his dress often excluded him,
when the politeness, and variety of his conversation, would have been
thought a sufficient recompence for his entertainment. Having no
lodging, he passed the night often in mean houses, which are set open
for any casual wanderers; sometimes in cellars, amongst the riot and
filth of the meanest and most profligate of the rabble; and sometimes
when he was totally without money, walked about the streets till he was
weary, and lay down in the summer upon a bulk, and in the winter, with
his associates in poverty, among the ashes of a glass-house.
In this manner were passed those days and nights, which nature had
enabled him to have employed in elevated speculations. On a bulk, in a
cellar, or in a glass-house, among thieves and beggars, was to be found
the author of The Wanderer, the man, whose remarks in life might have
assisted the statesman, whose ideas of virtue might have enlightened the
moralist, whose eloquence might have influenced senates, and whose
delicacy might have polished courts. His distresses, however afflictive,
never dejected him. In his lowest sphere he wanted not spirit to assert
the natural dignity of wit, and was always ready to repress that
insolence, which superiority of fortune incited, and to trample that
reputation which rose upon any other basis, than that of merit. He never
admitted any gross familiarity, or submitted to be treated otherwise
than as an equal.
Once, when he was without lodging, meat, or cloaths, one of his friends,
a man indeed not remarkable for moderation in prosperity, left a
message, that he desired to see him about nine in the morning. Savage
knew that his intention was to assist him, but was very much disgusted,
that he should presume to prescribe the hour of his attendance; and
therefore rejected his kindness.
The greatest hardships of poverty were to Savage, not the want of
lodging, or of food, but the neglect and contempt it drew upon him. He
complained that as his affairs grew desperate, he found his reputation
for capacity visibly decline; that his opinion in questions of criticism
was no longer regarded, when his coat was out of fashion; and that
those, who in the interval of his prosperity, were always encouraging
him to great undertakings, by encomiums on his genius, and assurances of
success, now received any mention of his designs with coldness, and, in
short, allowed him to be qualified for no other performance than
volunteer-laureat. Yet even this kind of contempt never depressed him,
for he always preserved a steady confidence in his own capacity, and
believed nothing above his reach, which he should at any time earnestly
endeavour to attain.
This life, unhappy as it may be already imagined, was yet embittered in
1738 with new distresses. The death of the Queen deprived him of all the
prospects of preferment, with which he had so long entertained his
imagination. But even against this calamity there was an expedient at
hand. He had taken a resolution of writing a second tragedy upon the
story of Sir Thomas Overbury, in which he made a total alteration of the
plan, added new incidents, and introduced new characters, so that it was
a new tragedy, not a revival of the former. With the profits of this
scheme, when finished, he fed his imagination, but proceeded slowly in
it, and, probably, only employed himself upon it, when he could find no
other amusement. Upon the Queen's death it was expected of him, that he
should honour her memory with a funeral panegyric: He was thought
culpable for omitting it; but on her birth-day, next year, he gave a
proof of the power of genius and judgment. He knew that the track of
elegy had been so long beaten, that it was impossible to travel in it,
without treading the footsteps of those who had gone before him, and
therefore it was necessary that he might distinguish himself from the
herd of encomists, to find out some new walk of funeral panegyric.
This difficult task he performed in such a manner, that this poem may be
justly ranked the best of his own, and amongst the best pieces that the
death of Princes has produced. By transferring the mention of her death,
to her birth-day, he has formed a happy combination of topics, which any
other man would have thought it difficult to connect in one view; but
the relation between them appears natural; and it may be justly said,
that what no other man could have thought on, now seems scarcely
possible for any man to miss. In this poem, when he takes occasion to
mention the King, he modestly gives him a hint to continue his pension,
which, however, he did not receive at the usual time, and there was some
reason to think that it would be discontinued. He did not take those
methods of retrieving his interest, which were most likely to succeed,
for he went one day to Sir Robert Walpole's levee, and demanded the
reason of the distinction that was made between him and the other
pensioners of the Queen, with a degree of roughness which, perhaps,
determined him to withdraw, what had only been delayed. This last
misfortune he bore not only with decency, but cheerfulness, nor was his
gaiety clouded, even by this disappointment, though he was, in a short
time, reduced to the lowest degree of distress, and often wanted both
lodging and food. At this time he gave another instance of the
insurmountable obstinacy of his spirit. His cloaths were worn out, and
he received notice, that at a coffee-house some cloaths and linen were
left for him. The person who sent them did not, we believe, inform him
to whom he was to be obliged, that he might spare the perplexity of
acknowledging the benefit; but though the offer was so far generous, it
was made with some neglect of ceremonies, which Mr. Savage so much
resented, that he refused the present, and declined to enter the house
'till the cloaths, which were designed for him, were taken away.
His distress was now publicly known, and his friends therefore thought
it proper to concert some measures for his relief. The scheme proposed
was, that he should retire into Wales, and receive an allowance of fifty
pounds a year, to be raised by subscription, on which he was to live
privately in a cheap place, without aspiring any more to affluence, or
having any farther sollicitude for fame.
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