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Philip Yorke, who then presided in that court, dismissed the information with enco. miums upon the purity and excellence of Mr. Savage's writings.
The prosecution, however, answered in some measure the purpose of those by whom it was set on foot; for Mr. Savage was so far intimidated by it, that, when the edition of his poem was fold, he did not venture to reprint it; so that it was in a short time forgotten, or forgotten by all but those whom it of fended.
It is said, that some endeavours were used to incense the Queen against him: but he found advocates to obviate at least part of their effect; for though he was never advanced, he still continued to receive his pension.
This poem drew more infamy upon him than any incident of his life; and, as his conduct cannot be vindicated, it is proper to secure his memory from reproach, by informing those whom he made his enemies, that he never intended to repeat the provocation; and that, though, whenever he thought he had
any reason to complain of the clergy, he used to threaten them with a new edition of The Progress of a Divine, it was his calm and settled resolution to fupprefs it for ever.
He once intended to have made a better reparation for the folly or injustice with which he might be charged, by writing another poem, called The Progress of a Freethinker, whom he intended to lead through all the stages of vice and folly, to convert him from virtue to wickedness, and from religion to infidelity, by all the modish sophistry used for that purpose; and at last to difmiss him by his own hand into the other world.
That he did not execute this defign is a real loss to mankind, for he was too well acquainted with all the scenes of debauchery to have failed in his representations of them, and too zealous for virtue not to have
reprefented them in such a manner as should expose them either to ridicule or detestation.
But this plan was, like others, formed and laid aside, till the vigour of his imagination
was spent, and the effervescence of invention had subsided; but soon gave way to fome other design, which pleased by its novelty for a while, and then was neglected like the former.
He was still in his usual exigencies, having no certain support but the pensioni allowed him by the Queen, which, though it might have kept an exact æconomist from want, was very far from being sufficient for Mr. Savage, who had never been accustomed to difmifs
any of his appetites without the gratification which they solicited, and whom nothing but want of money withheld from partaking of every pleasure that fell within his view.
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 all the enquiries that friendship or curiosity could make after him; at length he appeared again pennyless as before, but never informed even those whom
he seemed to regard most, where he had been, nor was his retreat ever discovered.
This was his constant practice during the whole time that he received the pension from the Queen: 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 fufficiently confuted his own account of his conduct.
His politeness and his wit still raised him friends, who were desirous of setting him at length free from that indigence by which he had been hitherto oppressed; and therefore solicited Sir Robert Walpole in his favour with so much earneftness, that they obtained a promise of the next place that should become vacant, not exceeding two hundred pounds a year. This promise was made with an uncommon declaration, “ that it was “ not the promise of a minister to a peti“ tioner, but of a friend to his friend.”
Mr. Savage now concluded himself set at ease for ever, and, as he observes in a poem written on that incident of his life, trusted VOL. III, X
and was trusted; but soon found that his confidence was ill-grounded, and this friendly promise was not inviolable. He spent a long time in solicitations, and at last despaired and defifted.
He did not indeed deny that he had given the minister some reason to believe that he should not strengthen his own interest by advancing him, for he had taken care to distinguilh himself in coffee-houses as an advocate for the ministry of the last years of Queen Anne, and was always ready to justify the conduct, and exalt the character of Lord Bolingbroke, whom he mentions with great regard in an epistle upon authors, which he wrote about 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