Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

stances.

to utter, or even harbour, the least resentment | receiving from him an account of his condition, against Mrs. Read. I believe she has ruined immediately sent him five guineas, and prome, but I freely forgive her; and, though I will mised to promote his subscription at Bath with never more have any intimacy with her, I all his interest. would, at a due distance, rather do her an act By his removal to Newgate, he obtained at of good than ill-will. Lastly, (pardon the ex- least a freedom from suspense, and rest from pression) I absolutely command you not to of the disturbing vicissitudes of hope and disapfer me any pecuniary assistance, nor to attempt pointment: he now found that his friends were getting me any from any one of your friends. only companions, who were willing to share his At another time, or on any other occasion, you gayety, but not to partake of his misfortunes ; may, dear friend, be well assured, I would ra and therefore he no longer expected any assisther write to you in the submissive style of a tance from them. request, than that of a peremptory command. It must, however, be observed of one gentle

“ However, that my truly valuable friend man, that he offered to release him by paying may not think I am too proud to ask a favour, the debt; but that Mr. Savage would not conlet me intreat you to let me have your boy to sent;. I suppose, because he thought he had beattend me this day, not only for the sake of sav- fore been too burdensome to him. ing me the expense of porters, but for the de He was offered by some of his friends that a livery of some letters to people whose names I collection should be made for his enlargement: would not have known to strangers.

but he “ treated the proposal,” and declared* “ The civil treatment I have thus far met he should again treat it with disdain. As to from those whose prisoner I am, makes me writing any mendicant letters, he had too high thankful to the Almighty, that though he has a spirit, and determined only to write to some thought fit to visit me, on my birth-night, with ministers of state to try to regain his pension.” affliction, yet (such is his great goodness!) my He continued to complaint of those that had affliction is not without alleviating circum- sent him into the country, and objected to them,

1 murmur not; but am all resig- that he had “ lost the profits of his play, which nation to the divine will. As to the world, had been finished three years ;” and in another I hope that I shall be endued by Heaven with letter declares his resolution to publish a pamthat presence of mind, that serene dignity in phlèt, that the world might know how " he misfortune, that constitutes the character of a had been used.” true nobleman; a dignity far beyond that of co This pamphlet was never written; for he in ronets; a nobility arising from the just prin- a very short time recovered his usual tranquilciples of philosophy, refined and exalted by lity, and cheerfully applied himself to more inthose of christianity.”

offensive studies. He indeed steadily declared, He continued five days at the officer's, in that he was promised a yearly allowance of hopes that he should be able to procure bail, and fifty pounds, and never received half the sum; avoid the necessity of going to prison. The but he seemed to resign himself to that as well state in which he passed his time, and the treat as to other misfortunes, and lose the rememment which he received, are very justly ex- brance of it in his amusements and employ*pressed by him in a letter which he wrote to a ments. friend : “ The whole day,” says he, “ has been The cheerfulness with which he bore his conemployed in various people's filling my head finement appears from the following letter, with their foolish chimerical systems, which has which he wrote January the 30th, to one of his obliged me coolly (as far as nature will admit) friends in London. to digest and accommodate myself to every dif I now write to you from my confinement ferent person's way of thinking; hurried from in Newgate, where I have been ever since one wild system to another, till it bas quite Monday last was se'nnight, and where I enjoy made a chaos of my imagination, and nothing myself with much more tranquillity than I have done-promised-disappointed-ordered to send, known for upwards of a twelvemonth past; every hour, from one part of the town to the having a room entirely to myself, and pursuing

the amusement of my poetical studies, uninterWhen his friends, who had hitherto caressed rupted, and agreeably to my mind. I thank and applauded him, found that to give bail and the Almighty, I am now all collected in myself; pay the debt was the same, they all refused to and, though my person is in confinement, my preserve him from a prison at the expense of mind can expatiate on ample and useful subeight pounds; and therefore, after having been jects with all the freedom imaginable. I am for some time at the officer's house, “ at an im now more conversant with the Nine than ever, mense expense,” as he observes in his letter, he was at length removed to Newgate. This expense he was enabled to support by

* In a letter after his confinement.-Dr. J. the generosity of Mr. Nash at Bath, who, upon + Letter, Jan. 15.

otler "

lark.”

and if, instead of a Newgate-bird, I may be al- | ing a poem called “ London and Bristol delowed to be a bird of the Muses, I assure you, lineated."* Sir, I sing very freely in my cage; sometimes, When he had brought this poem to its preindeed, in the plaintive notes of the night- sent state, which, without considering the ingale; but at others in cheerful strains of the chasm, is not perfect, he wrote to London an

account of his design, and informed his friend, t In another letter he observes, that he ranges that he was determined to print it with his from one subject to another, without confining name; but enjoined him not to communicate himself to any particular task: and that he was his intention to his Bristol acquaintance. The employed one week upon one attempt, and the gentleman, surprised at his resolution, endeanext upon another.

voured to dissuade him from publishing it, at Surely the fortitude of this man deserves, at least from prefixing his name; and declared, least, to be mentioned with applause; and, that he could not reconcile the injunction of sewhatever faults may be imputed to bim, the crecy with his resolution to own it at its first virtue of suffering well cannot be denied him. appearance. To this Mr. Savage returned an The two powers which, in the opinion of Epic- answer, agreeable to his character, in the foltetus, constituted a wise man, are those of bear- lowing terms: ing and forbearing ; which it cannot indeed be “ I received yours this morning; and not affirmed to have been equally possessed by Sa- without a little surprise at the contents. To vage; and indeed the want of one obliged him answer a question with a question, you ask me very frequently to practise the other.

concerning London and Bristol, why will I add He was treated by Mr. Dagge, the keeper of delineated? Why did Mr. Woolaston add the the prison, with great humanity; was supported same word to his · Keligion of Nature?' I by him at his own table, without any certainty suppose that it was his will and pleasure to add of recompense; had a room to himself, to which it in his case; and it is mine to do so in my he could at any time retire from all disturb- own. You are pleased to tell me, that you unance; was allowed to stand at the door of the derstand not why secrecy is enjoined, and yet prison, and sometimes taken out into the fields ;* I intend to set my name to it. My answer is so that he suffered fewer hardships in prison - I have my private reasons, which I am not than he had been accustomed to undergo in the obliged to explain to any one. You doubt my greatest part of his life.

friend Mr. Swould not approve of it, The keeper did not confine his benevolence to And what is it to me whether he does or not? a gentle execution of his office, but made some Do you imagine that Mr. S- is to dictate to overtures to the creditor for his release, though me? If any man who calls himself my friend without effect; and continued, during the should assume such an air, I would spurn at whole time of his imprisonment, to treat him his friendship with contempt.

You say, 1 with the utmost tenderness and civility. seem to think so by not letting him know it

Virtue is undoubtedly most laudable in that And suppose I do, what then? Perhaps I can state which makes it most difficult; and there- give reasons for that disapprobation, very foreign fore the humanity of a gaoler certainly deserves from what you would imagine. You go on in this public attestation; and the man, whose saying, Suppose I should not put my name to heart has not been bardened by such an employ- it-My answer is, that I will not suppose any ment, may be justly proposed as a pattern of such thing, being determined to the contrary: benevolence. If an inscription was once en- neither, Sir, would I have you suppose that I graved“ to the honest toll-gatherer,” less applied to you for want of another press : nor honours ought not to be paid “ to the tender would I have you imagine, that I owe Mr. gaoler.

Sobligations which I do not.” Mr. Savage very frequently received visits, Such was his imprudence, and such his obstiand sometimes presents, from his acquaintances; nate adherence to his own resolutions, however but they did not amount to a subsistence, for absurd! A prisoner! supported by charity: the greater part of which he was indebted to the and, whatever insults he might have received generosity of this keeper ; but these favours, during the latter part of his stay at Bristol, however they might endear to him the particu- once caressed, esteemed, and presented with a lar persons from whom he received them, were liberal collection, he could forget on a sudden very far from impressing upon his mind any his danger and his obligations, to gratify the advantageous ideas of the people of Bristol, and petulance of his wit, or the eagerness of his retherefore he thought he could not more properly employ himself in prison, than in writ

* The Author preferred this title to that of " Lon. don and Bristol compared ;" which, when he began

the piece, he intended to prefix to it. Dr. J. • See this confirmed, Gent. Mag. vol. lvii. 1140. + This friend was Mr. Cave, the printer.-N. .-N.

i Mr. Strong, of the Post-office.-N.

sentment, and publish a satire, by which he But the resentment of the city was after. might reasonably expect that he should alienate wards raised by some accounts that had been those who then supported him, and provoke spread of the satire; and he was informed that those whom he could neither resist nor escape. some of the merchants intended to pay the al

Tnis resolution, from the execution of which lowance which the law required, and to detain it is probable that only his death could have him a prisoner at their own expense. This be hindered him, is sufficient to show, how much treated as an empty menace; and perhaps he disregarded all considerations that opposed might have hastened the publication, only to his present passions, and how readily he haz- show, how much he was superior to their inarded all future advantages for any immediate sults, had not all his schemes been suddenly gratifications. Whatever was his predominant destroyed. inclination, neither hope nor fear hindered him When he had been six months in prison, he from complying with it; nor had opposition received from one of his friends,* in whose any other effect than to heighten his ardour, kindness he had the greatest confidence, and oz and irritate his vehemence.

whose assistance he chiefly depended, a letter, This performance was bowever laid aside, that contained a charge of a very atrocious inwhile he was employed in soliciting assistance gratitude, drawn up in such terms as sudden from several great persons; and one interrup- resentment dictated. Henley, in one of his tion succeeding another, hindered him from advertisements, had mentioned, “ Pope's treatsupplying the chasm, and perhaps from retouch ment of Savage.” This was supposed by Pope ing the other parts, which he can hardly be to be the consequence of a complaint made by imagined to bave finished in his own opinion; Savage to Henley, and was therefore mentioned for it is very unequal, and some of the lines are by him with much resentment. Mr. Savage rather inserted to rhyme to others, than to returned a very solemn protestation of his insupport or improve the sevise; but the first and nocence, but however appeared much disturbed last parts are worked up with great spirit and at the accusation. Some days afterwards he elegance.

was seized with a pain in his back and side, His time was spent in the prison for the most which, as it was not violent, was not suspected part in study, or in receiving visits; but some to be dangerous ; but, growing daily more lantimes he descended to lower amusements, and guid and dejected, on the 25th of July he condiverted himself in the kitchen with the con- fined himself to his room, and a fever seized versation of the criminals; for it was not pleas- his spirits. The symptoms grew every day ing to him to be much without company; and, more formidable, but his condition did not enthough he was very capable of a judicious able him to procure any assistance. The last time choice, he was often contented with the first that the keeper saw him was on July the 31st, that offered; for this he was sometimes re- | 1743; when Savage, seeing him at his bedside, proved by his friends, who found him sur said, with an uncommon earnestness, “ I have rounded with felons : but the reproof was on something to say to you, Sir;" but, after a that, as on other occasions, thrown away; he pause, moved his hand in a melancholy mancontinued to gratify himself, and to set very ner; and, finding himself unable to recollect little value on the opinion of others.

what he was going to communicate, said, “'T'is But here, as in every other scene of his life, gone!” The keeper soon after left him; and he made use of such opportunities as occurred the next morning he died. He was buried in of benefiting those who were more miserable the church-yard of Peter, at the expense of than himself, and was always ready to perform the keeper. any office of humanity to his fellow-prisoners. Such was the life and death of Richard Sa

He had now ceased from corresponding with vage, a man equally distinguished by his virtues any of his subscribers except one, who yet con and vices; and at once remarkable for his weaktinued to remit him the twenty pounds a year nesses and abilities. which he had promised him, and by whom it He was of a middle stature, of a thin habit was expected that he would have been in a of body, a long visage, coarse features, and me. very short time enlarged, because he had di- lancholy aspect; of a grave and manly deportrected the keeper to inquire after the state of ment, a solemn dignity of mien, but which, his debts.

upon a nearer acquaintance, softened into an However, he took care to enter his name ac- engaging easiness of manner. His walk was cording to the forms of the court,* that the slow, and his voice tremulous and mournful. creditor might be obliged to make some allow. He was easily excited to smiles, but very selance, if he was continued a prisoner, and, wben dom provoked to laughter. on that occasion he appeared in tKe hall, was treated with very unusual respect.

* Mr. Pope. See some extracts of letters from

that gentleman to and concerning Mr. Savage, in See Gent. Mag. vol. lvii. 10-0.-N.

Rufi'head's Life of Pope, p. 502.-R.

scene.

His mind was in an uncommon degree vi- | made him the slave of every passion that hapgorous and active. His judgment was accurate, pened to be excited by the presence of its object, his apprehension quick, and his memory so te- and that slavery to his passions reciprocally nacious, that he was frequently observed to produced a life irregular and dissipated. He know what he had learned from others, in a was not master of his own motions, nor could short time, better than those by whom he was promise any thing for the next day. informed; and could frequently recollect inci With regard to his economy, nothing can be dents, with all their combination of circum- added to the relation of his life. He appeared stances, which few would have regarded at the to think himself born to be supported by others, present time, but which the quickness of his and dispensed from all necessity of providing apprehension impressed upon him. He had the for himself; he therefore never prosecuted any peculiar felicity that his attention never de scheme of advantage, nor endeavoured even to serted him; he was present to every object, and secure the profits which his writings might regardful of the most trifling occurrences. He have afforded bim. His temper was, in consehad the art of escaping from his own reflec- quence of the dominion of his passions, uncertions, and accommodating himself to every new tain and capricious; he was easily engaged,

and easily disgusted; but he is accused of reTo this quality is to be imputed the extent of taining his hatred more tenaciously than his his knowledge, compared with the small time benevolence. which he spent in visible endeavours to acquire He was compassionate both by nature and it. He mingled in cursory conversation with principle, and always ready to perform offices of the same steadiness of attention as others apply humanity; but when he was provoked (and to a lecture: and, amidst the appearance of very small offences were sufficient to provoke thoughtless gayety, lost no new idea that was him) he would prosecute his revenge with the started, nor any hint that could be improved. utmost acrimony till his passion had subsided. He had therefore made in coffee-houses the His friendship was therefore of little value; same proficiency as others in their closets: and for, though he was zealous in the support or it is remarkable, that the writings of a man of vindication of those whom he loved, yet it was little education and little reading have an air of always dangerous to trust him, because he conlearning scarcely to be found in any other per- sidered himself as discharged by the first quarformances, but which perhaps as often obscures rel from all ties of honour or gratitude; and as embellishes them.

would betray those secrets which in the warmth His judgment was eminently exact both with of confidence had been imparted to him. This regard to writings and to men. The knowledge practice drew upon him a universal accusation of life was indeed his chief attainment; and it of ingratitude; nor can it be denied that he is not without some satisfaction, that I can pro- was very ready to set himself free from the duce the suffrage of Savage in favour of human load of an obligation; for he could not bear to nature, of which he never appeared to entertain conceive himself in a state of dependence, his such odious ideas as some, who perhaps had pride being equally powerful with his other neither his judgment nor experience, have pub- passions, and appearing in the form of insolished, either in ostentation of their sagacity, lence at one time, and of vanity at another. vindication of their crimes, or gratification of Vanity, the most innocent species of pride, was their malice.

most frequently predominant: he could not His method of life particularly qualified him easily leave off, when he had once begun to for conversation, of which he knew how to mention himself or his works; nor ever read practise all the graces. He was never vehe-his verses without stealing his eyes from the ment or loud, but at once modest and easy, page, to discover in the faces of his audience, open and respectful; his language was vivacious how they were affected with any favourite and elegant, and equally happy upon grave or passage. humorous subjects. He was generally cen A kinder name than that of vanity ought to sured for not knowing when to retire; but that be given to the delicacy with which he was was not the defect of his judgment, but of his always careful to separate his own merit from fortune: when he left his company, he was fre- every other man's, and to reject that praise to quently to spend the remaining part of the which he had no claim. He did not fornight in the street, or at least was abandoned to get, in mentioning his performances, to mark gloomy reflections, which is not strange that every line that had been suggested or amended; he delayed as long as he could; and sometimes and was so accurate, as to relate that he owed forgot that he gave others pain to avoid it him-three words in “ The Wanderer" to the advice self.

of his friends. It cannot be said, that he made use of his His veracity was questioned, but with little abilities for the direction of his own conduct; reason ; bis accounts, though not indeed always an irregular and dissipated manner of life had the same, were generally consistent, When ho

loved any man, he suppressed all his faults ; | ty is simplicity, and uniformity the prevailing and, when he had been offended by him, con defect. cealed all his virtues : but his characters were For his life, or for his writings, none, who generally true, so far as he proceeded; though candidly consider his fortune, will think an it cannot be denied, that his partiality might apology either necessary or difficult.

If he was have sometimes the effect of falsehood.

not always sufficiently instructed on his subject, In cases indifferent, he was zealous for vir- his knowledge was at least greater than could tue, truth, and justice: he knew very well the have been attained by others in the same state. necessity of goodness to the present and future If his works were sometimes unfinished, accuhappiness of mankind; nor is there perhaps racy cannot reasonably be exacted from a man any writer, who has less endeavoured to please oppressed with want, which he has no hope of by flattering the appetites, or perverting the relieving but by a speedy publication. The injudgment.

solence and resentment of which he is accused As an author, therefore, and he now ceases to were not easily to be avoided by a great mind, influence mankind in any other character, if irritated by perpetual hardships, and constrained one piece which he had resolved to suppress, be hourly to return the spurns of contempt, and excepted, he has very little to fear from the repress the insolence of prosperity; and vanity strictest moral or religious censure. And may surely be readily pardoned in him, to whom though he may not be altogether secure against life afforded no other comforts than barren the objections of the critic, it must however be praises, and the consciousness of deserving them. acknowledged, that his works are the produc Those are no proper judges of his conduct, tions of a genius truly poetical; and, what many who have slumbered away their time on tbe writers who have been more lavishly applauded down of plenty; nor will any wise man precannot boast, that they have an original air, sume to say, “ Had I been in Savage's conwhich has no resemblance of any foregoing dition, I should have lived or written better writer, that the versification and sentiments than Savage.' have a cast peculiar to themselves, which no This relation will not be wholly without its man can imitate with success, because what use, if those, who languish under any part of was nature in Savage would in another be affec- his sufferings, shall be enabled to fortify their tation. It must be confessed, that his descrip- patience, by reflecting that they feel only those tions are striking, his images animated, his fic afflictions from which the abilities of Savage tions justly imagined, and all his allegories art did not exempt him; or those, who, in confifully pursued; that his diction is elevated, dence of superior capacities or attainments, though sometimes forced, and his numbers so- | disregarded the common maxims of life, shall norous and majestic, though frequently sluggish be reminded, that nothing will supply the want and encumbered. Of his style, the general of prudence; and that negligence and irregularfault is harshness, and its general excellence is ity, long continued, will make knowledge usedignity; of his sentiments, the prevailing beau- | less, wit ridiculous, and genius contemptible.

..

SWIFT.

An account of Dr. Swift has been already col- | count said to be written by himself, * the son of lected, with great diligence and acuteness, by Jonathan Swift, an attorney, and was born at Dr. Hawkesworth, according to a scheme Dublin on St. Andrew's day, in 1667 : accordwhich I laid before him in the intimacy of our ing to his own report, as delivered by Pope to friendship. I cannot therefore be expected to Spence, he was born at Leicester, the son of a say much of a life, concerning which I had clergyman, who was minister of a parish in long since communicated my thoughts to a man capable of dignifying his narrations with so much elegance of language and force of sen

• Mr. Sheridan, in his Life of Swift, observes timent.

that this account was really written by the Dean,

and now exists in his own hand-writing in the li JONATHAN SWIFT was, according to an ace 'brary of Dublin College.-R.

« VorigeDoorgaan »