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Johnson's partiality for Savage made him entertain no doubt of his story, however extraordinary and improbable. It never occurred to him to question his being the son of the countess of Macclesfield, of whose unrelenting barbarity he so loudly complained, and the particulars of which are related in so strong and affecting a manner in Johnson's life of him. Johnson was certainly well warranted in publishing his narrative, however offensive it might be to the lady and her relations, because her alleged unnatural and cruel conduct to her son, and shameful avowal of guilt, were stated in a life of Savage now lying before me, which came out so early as 1727, and no attempt had been made to confute it, or to punish the author or printer as a libeller but for the honour of human nature, we should be glad to find the shocking tale not true; and from a respectable gentleman connected with the lady's family, I have received such information and remarks, as, joined to my own inquiries, will, I think, render it at least somewhat doubtful, especially when we consider that it must have originated from the person himself who went by the name of Richard Savage.

If the maxim, "falsum in uno, falsum in omnibus," were to be received without qualification, the credit of Savage's narrative, as conveyed to us, would be annihilated; for it contains some assertions which, beyond a question, are not true.

1. In order to induce a belief that the earl Rivers, on account of a criminal connection with whom, lady Macclesfield is said to have been divorced from her husband by act of parliamenta, had a peculiar anxiety about the child which she bore to him, it is alleged, that his lordship gave him his own name, and had it duly recorded in the register of St. Andrew's, Holborn. I have carefully inspected that register, but no such entry is to be found.

The late Francis Cockayne Cust, esq. one of his majesty's counsel.

d 1697.

e Mr. Cust's reasoning, with respect to the filiation of Richard Savage, is not satisfactory; and is entirely overturned by the following decisive observations,

2. It is stated, that "lady Macclesfield having lived for some time upon very uneasy terms with her husband, thought a publick confession of adultery the most obvious and expeditious method of obtaining her liberty;" and Johnson, assuming this to be true, stigmatizes her with indignation, as "the wretch who had without scruple proclaimed herself an adultress." But I have perused the journals of both houses of parliament at the period of her divorce, and there find it authentically ascertained, that so far from voluntarily submitting to the ignominious charge of adultery, she made a strenuous defence by her counsel; the bill having been first moved the 15th of January, 1697-8, in the house of lords, and proceeded on, (with va

for which the reader is indebted to the unwearied researches of Mr. Bindley. The story on which Mr. Cust so much relies, that Savage was a supposititious child, not the son of lord Rivers and lady Macclesfield, but the offspring of a shoemaker, introduced in consequence of her real son's death, was, without doubt, grounded on the circumstance of lady Macclesfield having, in 1696, previously to the birth of Savage, had a daughter by the earl Rivers, who died in her infancy: a fact which was proved in the course of the proceedings on lord Macclesfield's bill of divorce.-MALONE.

From the earl of Macclesfield's case, which, in 1697-8, was presented to the lords, in order to procure an act of divorce, it appears, that, " Anne, countess of Macclesfield, under the name of Madam Smith, was delivered of a male child in Fox-court, near Brook-street, Holborn, by Mrs. Wright, a midwife, on Saturday, the 16th of January, 1696-7, at six o'clock in the morning, who was baptized on the Monday following, and registered by the name of Richard, the son of John Smith, by Mr. Burbridge, assistant to Dr. Manningham's curate for St. Andrew's, Holborn : that the child was christened on Monday, the 18th of January, in Fox-court; and, from the privacy, was supposed by Mr. Burbridge, to be a by-blow, or bastard. It also appears, that during her delivery, the lady wore a mask; and that Mary Pegler on the next day after the baptism, (Tuesday,) took a male child, whose mother was called Madam Smith, from the house of Mrs. Pheasant, in Fox-court, [running from Brook-street into Gray's-Innlane,] who went by the name of Mrs. Lee.

Conformable to this statement is the entry in the register of St. Andrew's, Holborn, which is as follows, and which unquestionably records the baptism of Richard Savage, to whom lord Rivers gave his own christian name, prefixed to the assumed surname of his mother: Jan. 1696-7. RICHARD, Son of John Smith and Mary, in Fox-court, in Gray's-Inn-lane, baptized the 18th.”— BINDLEY.

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f No divorce can be obtained in the courts, on confession of the party. There must be proofs.-Kearney.

rious applications for time to bring up witnesses at a distance, etc.) at intervals, till the 3d of March, when it passed. It was brought to the commons, by a message from the lords, the 5th of March, proceeded on the 7th, 10th, 11th, 14th, and 15th, on which day, after a full examination of witnesses on both sides, and hearing of couusel, it was reported without amendments, passed, and carried to the lords. That lady Macclesfield was convicted of the crime of which she was accused, cannot be denied ; but the question now is, whether the person calling himself Richard Savage was her son.

It has been said, that when earl Rivers was dying, and anxious to provide for all his natural children, he was informed by lady Macclesfield that her son by him was dead. Whether, then, shall we believe that this was a malignant lie, invented by a mother to prevent her own child from receiving the bounty of his father, which was accordingly the consequence, if the person whose life Johnson wrote was her son; or shall we not rather believe, that the person who then assumed the name of Richard Savage was an impostor, being in reality the son of the shoemaker, under whose wife's care1 lady Macclesfield's child was placed; that after the death of the real Richard Savage, he attempted to personate him; and that the fraud being known to lady Macclesfield, he was therefore repulsed by her with just resentment.

There is a strong circumstance in support of the last supposition; though it has been mentioned as an aggravation of lady Macclesfield's unnatural conduct, and that is, her having prevented him from obtaining the benefit of a legacy left to him by Mrs. Lloyd, his godmother. For if there was such a legacy left, his not being able to obtain payment of it, must be imputed to his consciousness that he was not the real person. The just inference should be,

8 By Johnson, in the Life of Savage.-MALONE.

h This is not correctly stated.

The shoemaker under whose care Savage was placed, with a view to his becoming his apprentice, was not the husband of his nurse. See Johnson's Life of Savage.-J. Boswell.

that by the death of lady Macclesfield's child before its godmother, the legacy became lapsed, and therefore that Johnson's Richard Savage was an impostor.

If he had a title to the legacy, he could not have found any difficulty in recovering it; for had the executors resisted his claim, the whole costs, as well as the legacy, must have been paid by them, if he had been the child to whom it was given.

The talents of Savage, and the mingled fire, rudeness, pride, meanness, and ferocity of his character1, concur in making it credible that he was fit to plan and carry on an ambitious and daring scheme of imposture, similar instances of which have not been wanting in higher spheres, in the history of different countries, and have had a considerable degree of success.

Yet, on the other hand, to the companion of Johnson, (who, through whatever medium he was conveyed into this world, be it ever so doubtful " To whom related, or by whom begot," was, unquestionably, a man of no common endowments,) we must allow the weight of general repute as to his status or parentage, though illicit; and supposing him to be an impostor, it seems strange that lord Tyrconnel, the nephew of lady Macclesfield, should patronise him, and even admit him as a guest in his family. Lastly,

i Johnson's companion appears to have persuaded that lofty-minded man, that he resembled him in having a noble pride; for Johnson, after painting in strong colours the quarrel between lord Tyrconnel and Savage, asserts that "the spirit of Mr. Savage, indeed, never suffered him to solicit a reconciliation: he returned reproach for reproach, and insult for insult." But the respectable gentleman to whom I have alluded, has in his possession a letter from Savage, after lord Tyrconnel had discarded him, addressed to the reverend Mr. Gilbert, his lordship's chaplain, in which he requests him, in the humblest manner, to represent his case to the viscount.-BOSWELL.

k Trusting to Savage's information, Johnson represents this unhappy man's being received as a companion by lord Tyrconnel, and pensioned by his lordship, as posterior to Savage's conviction and pardon. But I am assured, that Savage had received the voluntary bounty of lord Tyrconnel, and had been dismissed by him long before the murder was committed, and that his lordship was very instrumental in procuring Savage's pardon, by his intercession with the queen, through lady Hertford. If, therefore, he had been desirous of preventing the publication by Savage, he would have left him to his fate. Indeed

it must ever appear very suspicious, that three different accounts of the life of Richard Savage, one published in The Plain Dealer, in 1724, another in 1727, and another by the powerful pen of Johnson in 1744, and all of them while lady Macclesfield was alive, should, notwithstanding the severe attacks upon her, have been suffered to pass without any publick and effectual contradiction.

I have thus endeavoured to sum up the evidence upon the case, as fairly as I can; and the result seems to be, that the world must vibrate in a state of uncertainty as to what was the truth.

This digression, I trust, will not be censured, as it relates to a matter exceedingly curious, and very intimately connected with Johnson, both as a man and an author1.

He this year wrote the preface to the Harleian Miscellany. The selection of the pamphlets of which it was composed was made by Mr. Oldys, a man of eager curiosity, and indefatigable diligence, who first exerted that spirit of inquiry into the literature of the old English writers, by which the works of our great dramatick poet have of late been so signally illustrated.

I must observe, that although Johnson mentions that lord Tyrconnel's patronage of Savage was ". upon his promise to lay aside his design of exposing the cruelty of his mother," the great biographer has forgotten that he himself has mentioned, that Savage's story had been told several years before in The Plain Dealer; from which he quotes this strong saying of the generous sir Richard Steele, that the "inhumanity of his mother had given him a right to find every good man his father." At the same time it must be acknowledged, that lady Macclesfield and her relations might still wish that her story should not be brought into more conspicuous notice by the satirical pen of Savage.-BoswELl.

1 Miss Mason, after having forfeited the title of lady Macclesfield by divorce, was married to colonel Brett, and, it is said, was well known in all the polite circles. Colley Cibber, I am informed, had so high an opinion of her taste and judgement as to genteel life and manners, that he submitted every scene of his Careless Husband to Mrs. Brett's revisal and correction. Colonel Brett was reported to be free in his gallantry with his lady's maid. Mrs. Brett came into a room one day in her own house, and found the colonel and her maid both fast asleep in two chairs. She tied a white handkerchief round her husband's neck, which was a sufficient proof that she had discovered his intrigue; but she never at any time took notice of it to him. The incident, as I am told, gave occasion to the well-wrought scene of sir Charles and lady Easy and Edging.— BOSWELL.

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