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world that of a friend with whom he had been closely intimate, whose singular character and adverse fortunes afforded ample scope for discussion, and furnished matter for many admirable lessons of morality.
This friend was Savage, of whom it has above been related, that his friends had undertaken to raise an annual subscription for his support at Swansea in Wales, but that his departure for that place was retarded by some difficulties that occurred in the course of their endeavours to raise it : these, however, were overcome, and Savage, in July 1739, took leave of London, and also of Johnson, who, as hiirself tells us, parted from him with tears in his eyes. His fubsequent history is, that taking his way through Bristol, he was for some time detained there by an embargo on the shipping. After some stay he was enabled to depart, and he reached Swansea ; but not liking the place, and resenting the treatment of his contributors, who seem to have been Nack in the performanceof their engagements to support him, he returned to Bristol with an intent to come to London, a purpose he was hindered from effecting by an arrest of his person, on the roth of January 1742-3, for the small sum of eight pounds, and carried to Newgate in that city, where, not being able to extricate himself from his confinement, he, on the 31st day of July, in the same
This event, and the affection which he had long entertained for the man, called forth Johnson to an exercise of his pen, which, as it is said, employed it only thirty-fix hours, in a narrative of events so singular
as could scarcely fail to gratify the curiosity of every one who wished to be instructed in the science of human life. The subject was such an one as is feldom exhibited to view; a man dropped into the world as from a cloud, committed to the care of those who had little interest in his preservation, and none in the forming his temper, or the infusing into him those little precepts of morality, which might germinate in his mind, and be productive of habitual virtue; these are advantages which children of the lowest birth enjoy, in some degree, in common with those of a higher; but of these he never participated. All the knowledge he attained to, from his infancy upwards, was self-acquired, and, bating that he was born in a city where the refinements of civil life presented to his view a rule of moral conduct, he may be said to have been little less a miracle than Hai Ebn Yokdhan is feigned to be.
It has been observed of those children who owe their nurture and education to a certain benevolent institution in this metropolis, that being by their misfortune strangers to those charities that arise from the relations of father, fon, and brother, their characters assume a complexion that marks their conduct through life. The same may be said of Savage, and will perhaps account for that want of gratitude to his benefactors, and other defects in his temper, with which he seems to have been justly chargeable.
The manner in which Johnson has written this life is very judicious : it afforded no great actions to celebrate, no improvements in science to record, nor any variety of events to remark on. It was a succeflion
of disappointments, and a complication of miseries; and as it was an uniform contradiction to the axiom that human life is chequered with good and evil accidents, was alone singular. The virtues and vices which like flowers and weeds sprang up together, and perhaps with an equal degree of vigour, in the mind of this unfortunate man, afforded, it is true, a subject of speculation, and Johnson has not failed to avail himself of so extraordinary a moral phenomenon as that of a mind exalted to a high degree of improvement without the aid of culture.
But if the events of Savage's life are few, the reflections thereon are many, so that the work may as well be deemed a series of economical precepts as a narrative of facts. In it is contained a character, which may be said to be sui generis ; a woman who had proclaimed her crimes, and folicited reproach, disowning from the instant of his birth, and procuring to be illegitimated by parliament, her own fon, dooming him to poverty and obscurity, and launching him upon the ocean of life, only that he might be swallowed by its quick-lands, or dashed upon its rocks, and lastly, endeavouring to rid herself from the danger of being at any time made known to him, by secretly sending him to the American plantations.
It farther exhibits to view, a man of genius destitute of relations and friends, and with no one to direct his pursuits, becoming an author by necessity, and a writer for the stage, and forming such connections as that profession leads to, sometimes improving, and at others Nighting them, but at all times acting with a spirit that better became his birth than his circum
stances; for who that knew how to distinguish between one and the other, would, like Savage, have solicited assistance, and spurned at the offer of it? or repaid reiterated kindneiles with neglect or oblivious taciturnity?
Interspersed in the course of the narrative are a great variety of moral sentiments, prudential maxims, and miscellaneous obfervations on men and things; but the sentiment that seems to pervade the whole is, that idleness, whether voluntary or necessitated, is productive of the greatest evils that human nature is exposed to ; and this the author exemplifies in an enumeration of the calamities that a man is subjected to by the want of a profession, and by shewing how far less happy such an one must be than he who has only a mere manual occupation to depend on for his support.
The concluding paragraph of the book explains the author's intention in writing it, and points out the use that may be made of it in such pointed terms, that I shall need, as I trust, no excuse for inserting so fine a fpecimen of stile and sentiment.
· This relation will not be wholly without its use, · if those who languish under any part of his suffer
ings shall be enabled to fortify their patience by reflecting, that they feel only those affictions from which the abilities of Savage did not exempt him;
or if those who in confidence of superior capacities or ' attainments, disregard the common maxims of life, 'fhall be reminded, that nothing will supply the
want of prudence, and that negligence and irregu' larity long continued, will make knowledge useless, i wit ridiculous, and genius contemptible.'
This celebrated essay in biography was published in the month of February 1744, and gave occasion to Henry Fielding, the author of a periodical paper intitled · The Champion,' to commend it in these words : * This pamphlet is, without flattery to its author, as just and well written a piece as, of its kind, I ever faw; so that, at the same time that it highly deserves,
it stands certainly very little in need of this recom( mendation. -As to the history of the unfortunate
person whose memoirs compose this work, it is cer
tainly penned with equal accuracy and spirit, of « which I am so much the better judge, as I knew
many of the facts mentioned in it to be strictly true, ' and very fairly related. Besides, it is not only the story
of Mr. Savage, but innumerable incidents relating to other persons and other affairs, which render
this a very amusing, and withal, a very instructive ' and valuable performance. The author's observa* tions are short, significant and just, as his narrative ' is remarkably smooth and well disposed : his re( Alections open to us all the recesses of the human
heart, and, in a word, a more just or pleasant, a ' more engaging or a more improving treatise on the
excellencies and defects of human nature, is scarce
to be found in our own or perhaps in any other ( language.'
The life I am now writing seems to divide itself into two periods; the first marked by a series of afflictions, the last by some cheering rays of comfort and comparative affluence. Johnson, at this time, had passed nearly the half of his days : here, therefore, let me make a stand, and having hitherto represented