1727 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Savage

Anonymous, in The Life of Mr. Richard Savage (1727) 14-18.



His good Qualities, which are very numerous, ought the more to be esteem'd and cherish'd, because he owes them to himself only: Without the Advantage of Friends, Fortune, or Education, he wants neither Knowledge nor Politeness, to deserve a Mother's Blessing, and adorn, rather than disgrace her. — I am strongly perswaded, from the Character, which upon all Occasions, he has taken Pleasure to give of the Lady's Humanity, with regard to the rest of the World, that nothing but her having, much too long, already been a Stranger to such a Son, could make her satsify'd to continue so. — It is impossible, at least, that she should not distinguish him, by some kind Notice, some little Mark of her returning Tenderness, if, without Regard to his Merit, she knew but his Manner of thinking of her: Which is, itself, a shining Merit! and a surprising Instance of Generosity! if consider'd against those Reasons, which might excuse a different Treatment of her.

He write the following Copy of Verses, and several others, on the same Subject, at a Time, when, I know not, which was most to be wonder'd at; That he should be serene enough for Poetry, under the Extremity of Ill Fortune! — Or, that his Subject should be the Praise of her, to whom he ow'd a Life of Misery!

Hopeless, abandon'd, aimless, and oppress'd,
Lost to Delight, and, every way, distress'd:
Cross his cold Bed, in wild Disorder, thrown,
Thus, sigh'd Alexis, Friendless, and alone—

Why do I breathe? — What Joy can Being give,
When she, who gave me Life, forgets I live!
Feels not those Wintry Blasts, — nor heeds my Smart,
But shuts me from the Shelter of her Heart!
Saw me expos'd, to Want! to Shame! to Scorn!
To Ills! — which make it Misery, to be born!
Cast me, regardless on the World's bleak Wild:
And bad me, be a Wretch, while yet, a Child!

Where can be hope for Pity, Peace, or Rest,
Who moves no Softness in a Mother's Breast?
Custom, Law, Reason, All! my Cause forsake,
And Nature sleeps, to keep my Woes awake!
Crimes, which the Cruel scarce believe, can be,
The Kind are guilty of, to ruin me!
Even She, who bore me, blasts me, with her Hate,
And, meant my Fortune, makes herself my Fate!

Yet has this sweet Neglecter of my Woes,
The softest, tend'rest, Breast, that Pity knows!
Her Eyes shed Mercy, whereso'er they whine;
And her Soul melts, at every Woe — but mine.
Sure, then! some secret Fate, for Guilt, unwill'd,
Some Sentence, pre-ordain'd to be fulfill'd!
Plung'd me, thus deep, in Sorrow's searching Flood:
And wash'd me from the Mem'ry of her Blood.

But, Oh! whatever Cause has mov'd her Hate,
Let me but sigh, in silence, at my Fate.
The God, within, perhaps, may touch her Breast:
And, when she pities, who can be distress'd?

These Verses, as I said before, were published in the Plain Dealer, to whom Mr. Savage afterwards wrote a Letter himself, that was printed in that Paper, in which he says: I am, Sir, that unfortunate Richard Savage, the peculiar Circumstances of whose uncommon Treatment from a Mother (whose fine Qualities make it impossible to me not to forgive her, even, while I am miserable, by her Means only) induced you some Months since, in your 28th Paper, to publish a few ineffectual Lines, which I had written, on her surprising Usage of me: To which your Humanity was pleas'd to add certain Reflections, in my Favour, which I remember, with due Gratitude; and am encouraged, by that Instance of your Goodness, to make the present Application.

When you shall have perus'd my extraordinary Case, and those convincing Original Letters, which I have entrusted with the Gentleman, who brings you this, I shall need say no more, to satisfy you, what Right I have to complain, in a more publick Manner, than I have yet allowed myself to resolve on. — The Papers, in the Order you see them, are prepared for a Hand, too Just, and too Powerful, to leave me the least Distrust of being, shortly, less oppressed than I have been; but I judged myself obliged to lay them under your Eye, that you might be sensible, you said less, of my Wrongs, and my Sufferings, than the unhappy Truth could have justified.

He afterwards, in the same Letter, mentions his Subscription, and begs those, who think him, or his Design worth their Notice or Encouragement, to send their Names, and the Number of Books they subscribe for, to Button's Coffee-house.