« הקודםהמשך »
He is even accused, after having lulled his imagination with those ideal opiates, of hava ing tried the fame experiment upon his conscience; and, having accustomed himself to impute all deviations from the right to foreign causes, it is certain that he was upon every occasion too easily reconciled to himself, and that he appeared very little to regret thofe practices which had impaired his reputation. The reigning error of his life was, that he mistook the love for the practice of virtue, and was indeed not so much a good man, as the friend of goodness.
This at least must be allowed him, that he always preserved a strong sense of the dignity, the beauty, and the necessity of virtue, and that he never contributed deliberately to spread corruption amongst mankind. His actions, which were generally precipitate, were often blameable; but his writings, being the
productions of study, uniformly tended to the exaltation of the mind, and the propagation of morality and piety.
These writings may improve mankind, when his failings shall be forgotten; and 5
therefore he must be considered, upon the whole, as a benefactor to the world; nor cani his personal example do any hurt; fince, whoever hears of his faults, will hear of the miseries which they brought upon him, and which would deserve less pity, had 'not his condition been such as made his faults
pardonable. He may be considered as a child exposed to all the temptations of indigence, at an age when resolution was not yet strengthened by conviction, nor virtue confirmed by habit; a circumstance which in his Bastard he laments in a very affecting'man
No Mother's care Shielded my infant innocence with prayer : No Father's guardian-hand my youth maintainid, Callid forth my virtues, or from vice restrain'da
The Bastard, however it might provoke or mortify his mother, could not be expected to melt her to compassion, so that he was still under the fame want of the necessities of life; and he therefore exerted all the interest which his wit, or his birth, or his misfortunes, could procure, to obtain, upon the death of Eusden, the place of Poet Laureat,
and prosecuted his application with so much diligence, that the King publickly declared it his intention to bestow it upon him; but such was the fate of Savage, that even the King, when he intended his advantage, was disappointed in his schemes; for the Lord Chamberlain, who has the disposal of the laurel, as one of the appendages of his office, either did not know the King's design, or did not approve it, or thought the nomination of the Lauréat an encroachment upon his rights, and therefore bestowed the laurel upon Colley Cibber.
Mr. Savage, thus disappointed, took a resolution of applying to the queen, that, having once given him life, she would enable him to support it, and therefore published short poem on her birth-day, to which he gave the odd title of Volunteer Laureat. The event of this essay he has himself related in the following letter, which he prefixed to the poem, when he afterwards reprinted it in The Gentleman's Magazine, from whence I have copied it intire*, as this was one of the few attempts in which Mr. Savage succeeded.
* The poem is inserted in the late colle&tion, VOL. III.
“ Mr. URBAN, “ In your Magazine for February you “ published the last Volunteer Laureat, writ
ten on a very inelancholy occasion, the “ death of the royal patroness of arts and “ literature in general, and of the author of " that poem in particular; I now fend you 6 the first that Mr. Savage wrote under that “ title.—This gentleman, notwithstanding a
very considerable interest, being, on the " death of Mr. Eufden, disappointed of the “ Laureat’s place, wrote the before-mention“ed poem; which was no sooner published, « but the late Queen sent to a bookseller for 6 it: the author had not at that time a friend “ either to get him introduced, or his poem “ presented at court; yet fuch was the un• speakable goodness of that Princess, that, “ notwithstanding this act of ceremony was « wanting, in a few days after publication, 6 Mr. Savage received Bank-bill of fifty pounds, and an gracious
an gracious message « from her Majesty, by the Lord North and & Guilford, to this effect; “ That her Ma
jesty was highly pleased with the verses; that she took particularly kind his lines
" there relating to the King; that he had
permission to write annually on the same
subject; and that he should yearly receive “ the like present; till something better “ (which was her Majesty's intention) could “ be done for him.” After this, he was " permitted to present one of his annual po
ems to her Majesty, had the honour of “ kifling her hand, and met with the most “ gracious reception.
Such was the performance, and fuch its reception; a reception which, though by no means unkind, was yet not in the highest degree generous: to chain down the genius of a writer to an annual panegyric, thewed in the Queen too much desire of hearing her own praises, and a greater regard to herself than to him on whom her bounty was cona ferred. It was a kind of avaricious
generosity; by which flattery was rather purchased, than genius rewarded.
Mrs. Oldfield had formerly given him the fame allowance with much more heroic in tention; she had no other view than to enable him to profecute his studies, and to set