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that time ; but was too wise to publish, and of which only some fragments have appeared inserted by him in the " Magazine" after his retirement.
To despair was not, however, 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 audress a poem to him.
For this purpose he made choice of a subject which could regard only persons of the highest rank and greatest aMuence, and which was therefore proper for a poem intended to procure the patronage of a prince; and having retired for some time to Richmond, that he might prosecute his design in full tranquillity, without the temptations of pleasure, or the solicitations of creditors, by which his meditations were in equal danger of being disconcerted, he produced a poem, “ On Public Spirit, with regard to “ Public Works.”
The plan of this poem is very extensive, and comprises a multitude of topicks, each of which might furnish matter sufficient for a long performance, and of which some have already employed more eminent writers; but as he was, perhaps not fully acquainted with the whole extent of his own design, and was writing to obtain a supply of wants too pressing to admit of long or accurate enquiries, he passes negligently over many public works, which, - even in his own opinion, deserved to be more elaborately treated.
But thoụgh he may sometimes disappoint his readers by transient touches upon these subjects, which have often been considered, and therefore naTurally raise expectations, he must be allowed amply to compensate his omissions, by expatiating, in the conclusion of his work, upon a kind of beneficence not yet celebrated by any eminent poet, though it now appears more susceptible of embellishments, more adapted to exalt the ideas, and affect the passions, than many of those which have hitherto been thought most worthy of the ornaments of verse. The settlement of colonies in uninhabited countries, the establishment of those in security, whose misfor
tunes have made their own country no longer pleasing or safe, the acquisiition of property without injury to any, the appropriation of the waste and
Juxuriant bounties of nalure, and the enjoyment of those gifts which heaven has scattered upon regions uncultivated and unoccupied, cannot be considered without giving rise to a great number of pleasing ideas, and bewil. dering the imagination in delightful prospects; and, therefore, whatever speculations they may produce in those who have confined themselves to political studies, naturally fixed the attention, and excited the applause, of a poet. The politician, when he considers men driyen into other countries for shelter, and obliged to retire to forests and deserts, and pass their lives and fix their posterity in the remotest corners of the world, to avoid those hardships which they suffer or fear in their native place, may very properly en. quire, why the legislature does not provide a remedy for these miseries, ra
ther ther than encourage an escape from them. He may conclude, that the flight of every honest man is a loss to the community; that those who are unbappy without guilt ought to be relieved ; and the life, which is overburthened by accidental calamities, set at ease by the care of the publick; and that those, who have by misfortune forfeited their claim to favour, ought rather to be made useful to the society which they have injured, than be driven from it. But the poet is employed in a more pleasing undertaking than that of proposing laws which, however just or expedient, will never be made, or endeavouring to reduce to rational schemes of government, societies which were formed by chance, and are conducted by the private passions of those who preside in them. He guides the unhappy fugitive from want and persecution, to plenty, quiet, and security, and seats him in scenes of peaceful solitude, and undisturbed repose. .
Savage has not forgotten, amidst the pleasing sentiments which this pros-' pect of retirement suggested to him, to censure those crimes which have been generally committed by the discoverers of new regions, and to expose the enormous wickedness of making war upon barbarous nations because they cannot resist, and of invading countries because they are fruitful; of extending navigation only to propagate vice, and of visiting distant lands only to lay them waste. He has asserted the natural equality of mankind, and endeavoured io suppress that pride which inclines men to imagine that right is the consequence of power.
His description of the various miseries which force men to seek for refuge in distant countries, afiords another instance of his proficiency in the ima portant and extensive study of human life; and the tenderness with which he recounts them, another proof of his humanity and benevolence.
It is observable, that the close of this poem discovers a change which ex-perience had made in Mr. Savage’s opinions. In a poem written by him in his youth, and published in liis Miscellanies, he declares his contempt of the contracted views and narrow prospects of the middle state of life, and declares his resolution either tu tower like the cedar, or be trampled like the shrub; but in this poem, though addressed to a privce, he mentions this state of life as comprising those who ought most to attract reward, those who merit most the confidence of power and the familiarity of greatness; and, accidentally mentioning this passage to one of his friends, declared, that in his opinion all the virtue of mankind was comprehended in that state. .
. In describing villas and gardens, he did not omit to condemn that absurd custom which prevails among the English, of permitting servants to receive money from strangers for the entertainment that they receive, and therefore inserted in his poem these lines:
But what the flowering pride of gardens rare,
If gates, which to access should still give way,
But before the publication of his performance he recollected, that the Queen allowed her garden and cave at Richmond to be shewn for money, and that she so openly countenanced the practice, that she had bestowed the privilege of shewing them as a place of profit on a man, whose merit she va'ued herself upon rewarding, though she gave him only the liberty of disz:acing his country.
He therefore thought with more prudence than was often exerted by him, that the publication of these lines might be officiously represented as an insult upon the Queen, to whom he owed his life and subsistence, and that the propriety of his observation would be no security against the censures which the unseasonableness of it might draw upon him; he therefore suppressed the passage in the first edition, but after the Queen's death thought the same caution no longer necessary, and restored it to the proper place.
The poem was therefore published without any political faults, and inscribed to the Prince; but Mr. Savage, having no friend upon whom hc could prevail to present it to him, had no other method of attracting his observation than the publication of frequent advertisements, and therefore received no reward from his patron, however generous on other occasions.
This disappointment he never mentioned without indignation, being by some means or o:her confident that the prince was not ignorant of his address to him; and insinuated, that, if any advances in popularity could have been made by distinguishing him, he had nui written without notice, or without reward.
He was once inclined to have presented his poem in person, and sent to the printer for a copy with that design; but either his opinion changed, or his resolution deserted him, and he continued to resent negleet without attempting to force himself into regard.
Nor was the public much more favourable than his patron, for only seventy-two were sold, though the performance was much commended by some whos judgment in that kind of writing is generally allowed. But Savage ea.ily reconciled himself to mankind without imputing any defect to his work, by observing that his poem was unluckily published two days after the prorogation of the parliament, and by consequence at a time when all those who could be expected to regard it were in the hurry of preparing for their departure, or engaged in taking leave of others upon their dismission from public affairs.
It must be however allowed, in justification of the publick, 'that this performance is not the most excellent of Mr. Savage's works; and that though it cannot be denied to contain many striking sentiments, majestic lines, and just observations, it is in general not sufficiently polished in the language, or enlivened in the imagery, or digested in the plan.
Thus his poem contributed nothing to the alleviation of his poverty, which was such as very few could have supported with equal patience; but to which, it must likewise be confessed, that few would have been exposed, who received punctually fifty pounds a year; a salary which, though by no means equal to the demands of vanity and luxury, is yet found sufficient to support families above want,' and was undoubtedly more than the necessities of life require.
But no sooner had he received his pension, than he withdrew to his darling privacy, from which he returned in a short time to his former distress, and for some part of the year generally lived by chance, eating only when he was invited to the tables of his acquaintances, from which the meanness of his dress often excluded him, when the politeness and variety of his con. versation would have been thought a sufficient recompence for his entertainment.
He lodged as much by accident as he dined, and passed the night sometimes in mean houses, which are set open at right to any casual wanderers, sometimes in cellars, among the riot and filth of the meanest and most profligate of the rabble ; and sometimes, when he had not money to support even the expences of these receptacles, walked about the streets till he was weary, and lay down in the summer upon a bulk, or in the winter, with his associates in poverty, among the ashes of a glass-house.
In this manner were passed those days and those nighis which nature had enabled him to have einployed in elevated speculations, useful studies, or pleasing conversation. 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 of exalted sentiments, extensive views, and curious observations; the man whose remarks on 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.
It cannot but be imagined that such necessities might sometimes force him upon disreputable practices; and it is probable that these lines in “ The “ Wanderer" were occasioned by his reflections on his own conduct.
Though misery leads to happiness, and truth,
Whoever was acquainted with him, was certain to be solicited for small sums, which the frequency of the request made in time considerable, and he was therefore quickly shunned by those who were become familiar enough to be trusted with his necessities; but his rambling manner of life, and constani appearance at houses of public resort, always procured bim a new suc. cession of friends, whose kindness had not been exhausted by repeated requests; so that he was seldom absolutely without resources, but had in its utmost exigences this comfort, that he always imagined himself sure of speedy relief. :
It was observed, that he always asked favours of this kind without the least submission or apparent consciousness of dependence, and that he did not seem to look upon a compliance with his request as an obligation that deserved any extraordinary acknowledgments; but a refusal was. resented by him as an affront, or complained of as an injury; nor did he readily reconcile himself to those who either denied to lend, or gave him afterwards any intimation that they expected to be repaid. · He was sometimes so far compassionated by those who knew his merit and distresses, that they received him into their families, but they soon discovered him to be a very incommodious inmate; for, being always accustomed to an irregular manner of life, he could not confine himself to any stated hours, or pay any regard to the rules of a family, but would prolong his conversation till midnight, without considering that business might require his friends application in the morning; and when he had persuaded himself to retire to bed, was not without equal difficulty, called up to dinner; it was therefore impossible to pay him any distinction without the entire subversion of all ceconomy, a kind of establishment which, wherever he went, he always appeared ambitious to overthrow.
It musta therefore be acknowledged, in justification of mankind, that it was not always by the negligence or coldness of his friends that Savage was distressed, but because it was in reality very difficult to preserve him long in a state of ease. To supply him with money was a hopeless attempt; for no sooner did he see himself master of a sum sufficient to set him free from care for a day, than he became profuse and luxurious. When once he had entered a tavern, or engaged in a scheme of pleasure, he never retired till want of money obliged him to soine new expedient. If he was entertained in a family, nothing was any longer to be regarded there but amusements and jollity; wherever Savage entered, he immediately expected that order and business should'fly before him, that all should thenceforward be left to hazard, and that no dull principle of domestick management should be ope posed to his inclination, or intrude upon his gaiety.
His distresses, however afflictive, never dejected him ; in his lowest state he wanted not spirit to assert the natural dignity of wit, and was always ready to repress that insolence which the superiority of fortune incited, .. and to trample on that reputation which rose upon any other basis than