Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Savage, John (1828-1888)

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SAVAGE, JOHN (1828–1888), Irish poet and journalist, was born in Dublin on 13 Dec. 1828. His father was a United Irishman of Ulster. After attending a school at Harold's Cross in Dublin, he entered the art schools of the Royal Dublin Society at the age of sixteen. In 1845 he obtained three prizes for watercolour drawings, and in 1847 silver medals for studies in oils. But Irish politics soon diverted his attention. He joined revolutionary clubs in Dublin, and began in 1848 to contribute verse to the ‘United Irishman’ of John Mitchel [q. v.] When that paper was suppressed, Savage became a proprietor of its successor, ‘The Irish Tribune,’ in which he frequently wrote. After the suppression of that paper, Savage joined in the abortive rising in the south, and took part in attacks on police barracks at Portlaw and other places. He contrived to escape to New York late in 1848, and obtained the post of proof-reader on the ‘Tribune’ of that city. He afterwards became one of its contributors. When Mitchel started ‘The Irish Citizen’ in New York (1 Jan. 1854), Savage was appointed literary editor. In 1857 he removed to Washington, where he became editor, and ultimately proprietor, of ‘The States.’ He is said to have assisted in organising the Irish brigade in the civil war, and fought in the 69th New York regiment. He took an active part in the later period of the fenian movement in America, and in 1868 was appointed fenian agent in Paris. He was offered the post of United States consul in Leeds, but declined it. In 1875 he was given the degree of LL.D. of St. John's College, Fordham, New York. He died in New York on 9 Oct. 1888. He married in New York, in 1854, Louise Gouverneur, daughter of Captain Samuel Reid.

Savage's historical works are useful to students of modern Irish history, and his poem of ‘Shane's Head’ is one of the most powerful and popular of Irish ballads. His works are: 1. ‘Lays of the Fatherland,’ New York, 1850. 2. ‘'98 and '48, the Modern Revolutionary History and Literature of Ireland,’ 1856. 3. ‘Our Living Representative Men,’ Philadelphia, 1860. 4. ‘Faith and Fancy,’ poems, New York, 1864, 12mo. 5. ‘Campaign Life of Andrew Johnson,’ 1864. 6. ‘Sybil: a tragedy in prose and verse,’ 1865. 7. ‘Eva: a goblin romance,’ 1865. 8. ‘Fenian Heroes and Martyrs,’ Boston, 1868. 9. ‘Poems, Lyrical, Dramatic, and Romantic,’ 1870. 10. ‘Waiting for a Wife,’ n. d., a comedy.

[Appleton's Cyclop. of American Biogr.; O'Donoghue's Poets of Ireland, p. 222; Savage's '98 and '48; Nation, and Freeman's Journal, Dublin, October 1888; Fenian Heroes and Martyrs; a lengthy biography of Savage, written by John Augustus O'Shea, was published in the Irishman, 1869–70, with an excellent portrait by Montbard.]

D. J. O'D.