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having entertained some personal malice against Mr. Savage, or fearing, left, by retracting so confident an assertion, he should impair the credit of his paper, refused to give him that fatisfaction.
Mr. Savage therefore thought it necessary, to his own vindication, to prosecute him in the King's Bench; but as he did not find any ill effects from the accusation, having fufficiently cleared his innocence, he thought any farther procedure would have the appearance of revenge, and therefore willingly dropped it:
He saw soon afterwards a process commenced in the same court against himself, on an information in which he was accused of writing and publishing an obscene pamphlet.
It was always Mr. Savage's desire to be distinguished; and, when any controversy became popular, he never wanted some reason for engaging in it with great ardour, and appearing at the head of the party which he had chosen. As he was never celebrated for his prudence, he had no sooner taken his
side, and informed himself of the chief to picks of the dispute, than he tcok all opportunities of asserting and propagating his principles, without much regard to his own interest, or any other vibble design than that of drawing upon himself the attention of mankind.
The dispute between the Bishop of London and the Chancellor is well known to have been for some time the chief topic of political conversation; and therefore Mr. Savage, in pursuance of his character, endeavoured to become conspicuous among the controvertists with which every coffee-house was filled on that occasion. He was an indefatigable opposer of all the claims of ecclesiastical power, though he did not know on what they were founded; and was therefore no friend to the Bishop of London. But he had another reason for appearing as a warm advocate for Dr. Rundle; for he was the friend of Mr. Foster and Mr. Thomson, who were the friends of Mr. Savage.
Thus remote was his interest in the question, which however, as he imagined, con
cerned him so nearly, that it was not sufficient to harangue and dispute, but neceffary likewise to write
He therefore engaged with great ardour in a new Poem, called by him, The Progress of à Divine; in which he conducts a profligate priest by all the gradations of wickedness from a poor curacy in the country, to the highest preferments of the church, and defcribes with that humour which was natural to him, and that knowledge which was extended to all the diversities of human life, his behaviour in every station; and insinuates, that this priest, thus accomplished, found at last a patron in the Bishop of London.
When he was asked by one of his friends, on what pretence he could charge the bishop with such an action, he had no more to say, than that he had only inverted the accusation, and that he thought it reasonable to believe, that he, who obstructed the rise of a good man without reason, would for bad reasons promote the exaltation of a villain.
The clergy were universally provoked by this fatire; and Savage, who, as was his 7
constant practice, had set his name to his performance,' was censured in The Weekly Miscellany* with severity, which he did not feem inclined to forget.
• A short fatire was likewise published in the fame paper, in
which were the following lines: For cruel murder doom'd to hempen death, Savage, by royal grace, prolong'd his breath, Well might you think he spent his future years In prayer, and fasting, and repentant tears. -But, О vain hope !--the truly Savage cries, “ Priests, and their savish doctrines, I despise. • Shall I "! Who, by free-thinking to free action fir'd, “ In midnight brawls a deathless name acquir’d, “ Now ftoop to learn of ecclesiastic men ? “ No, arm'd with rhyme, at priests I'll take my aim, “ Though prudence bids me murder but their fame.”
An answer was published in The Gentleman's Magazine,
written by an unknown hand, from which the following lines are selected :
Transform’d by thoughtless rage, and midnight wine,
Instead of wasting “ all thy future years,
But a return of invective was not thought a sufficient punishment. The Court of King's Bench was therefore 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 criminal when it was intended to promote the practice of vice; but that Mr. Savage had only introduced obscene ideas, with the view. of exposing them to detestation, and of amending the
age, by shewing the deformity of wickedness. This plea was admitted; and Sir
Exert thy pen to mend a vicious age,
Maliciously that Savage plung'd the steel, And made the youth its shining vengeance feel; My soul abhors the act, the man detests; But more the bigotry in priestly breasts. GENTLEMAN'S MAGAZINE, May 1735.