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ther, which, though remarkably delicate and tender, is a proof how deep an impression it had upon
This must be at least acknowledged, which ought to be thought equivalent to many other excellencies, that this poem can promote ng other purposes than those of virtue, and that it is written with a very strong sense of the efficacy of religion.
But my province is rather to give the his, tory of Mr. Savage's performances, than to display their beauties, or to obviate the criticisms which they have occasioned; and there, fore I shall not dwell upon the particular pafsages which deferve applause; I shall neither fhew the excellence of his descriptions, nor expatiate on the terrific portrait of suicide, nor point out the artful touches, by which he has distinguished the intellectual features of the rebels, who suffered death in his last canto. It is, however, proper to observe, that Mr. Savage always declared the characters wholly fictitious, and without the least allusion to any real persons or actions.
From a poem fo diligently laboured, and so successfully finished, it might be reasonably expected that he should have gained considerable advantage; nor can it, without some degree of indignation and concern, be told, that he sold the copy for ten guineas, of which he afterwards returned two, that the two last sheets of the work might be reprinted, of which he had in his absence intrusted the correction to a friend, who was too indolent to perform it with accuracy.
A superstitious regard to the correction of his sheets was one of Mr. Savage's peculiari. ties : he often altered, revised, recurred to his first reading or punctuation, and again adopted the alteration; he was dubious and irresolute without end, as on a question of the last importance, and at last was seldom fatisfied : the intrusion or omission of a comma was sufficient to discompose him, and he would lament an error of a single letter as a heavy calamity. In one of his letters relating to an impression of some verses, he remarks, that he had, with regard to the correction of the proof, " a spell upon him; and indeed the anxiety with which he dwelt
upon the minutest and most trifling nicetics, deferved no other name than that of fascinas tion.
That he sold so valuable a performance for so small a price, was not to be imputed either to necessity, by which the learned and ingenious are often obliged to submit to very hard conditions; or to avarice, by which the booksellers are frequently incited to oppress tha genius by whịch they are supported; but to that intemperate desire of pleasure, and habitual slavery to his passions, which involved him in many perplexities. He happened at that time to be engaged in the pursuit of some trifling gratification, and, being without money for the present occasion, sold his poem to the first bidder, and perhaps for the first price that was proposed, and would probably have been content with less, if less had been offered him.
poem was addressed to the Lord Tyrconnel, not only in the first lines, but in a formal dedication filled with the highest strains of panegyric, and the warmest professions of gratitude, but by no means remarkable for d»licacy of connection or elegance of style, 6
Thefe praises in a short time he found himfelf inclined to retract, being discarded by the man on whom he had bestowed them, and whom he then immediately discovered not to have deserved them. Of this quarrel, which
every day made more bitter, Lord Tyrconnel and Mr. Savage assigned very dif-, ferent reasons, which might perhaps all in reality concur, though they were not all convenient to be alleged by either party. Lord Tyrconnel affirmed, that it was the constant practice of Mr. Savage to enter a tavern with
any company that proposed it, drink the most expensive wincs with great profufion, and when the reckoning was demanded, to be without money: If, as it often happened, his company were willing to defray his part, the affair ended, without any ill consequences; but, if they were refractory, and expected that the wine should be paid for by him that drank it, his method of composition was, to take them with him to his own apartment, assume the government of the house, and order the butler in an
manner to set the best wine in the cellar before his company, who often drank fill they forgot the respect due to the house
in which they were entertained, indulged themselves in the utmost extravagance of merriment, practised the most licentious frolicks, and committed all the outrages of drunkenness.
Nor was this the only charge which Lord Tyrconnel brought against him: Having given him a collection of valuable books, stamped with his own arms, he had the more tification to see them in a short time exposed to fale
upon the stalls, it being usual with Mr. Savage, when he wanted a small fum, to take his books to the pawnbroker.
Whoever was acquainted with Mr. Savage easily credited both these accusations: for, having been obliged from his first entrance into the world to subfist upon expedients, affluence was not able to exalt him above them; and so much was he delighted with wine and conversation, and so long had he been accustomed to live by chance, that he would at any time go to the tavern without fcruple, and trust for the reckoning to the liberality of his company, and frequently of company to whom he was very little known. This conduct indeed very feldom drew upon