Richard Savage

William Henry Ireland, "Bristol and Richard Savage" Neglected Genius (1812) 51-56.

Launch'd on the ocean of this stormy world,
Behold the Bastard's bark, with sails unfurl'd,
Dare the rough billows of assailing fate,
And, tho' oppos'd, proceed in lordly state.
As when the furious winds and waves arise,
Now plunge, then fling the vessel to the skies,
Still the sound steersman ably stems the tide,
Dares the rude storm, and bids the fabric ride;
So Savage, rul'd by genius, brav'd the flood,
Fancy, true pilot, his staunch helmsman stood;
Escap'd the quicksands, left the rocks behind,
And nobly scudded 'gainst the adverse wind:
Sometimes below, sometimes aloft he laves;
Now sinks, now rises, on misfortune's waves;
Caress'd or envied, scorn'd or prais'd, he reigns,
Loves and despises; venerates, disdains.
Such was thy fate, O Savage! such the doom
That still pursu'd thee to oblivion's tomb;
Bristol was fated to complete thine end,
Bristol, to no one but itself a friend.
Proud of its wealth, a foe to feeling's laws,
Dead to bright fancy and the poet's cause;
It left proud Savage in the grasp of care,
A jail his doom, his only friend despair;
Left him to linger for a trivial debt,
Till life's last beam in cloudy death was set.
So perish'd River's son, in blood renown'd,
A noble mind, by all the muses crown'd,
Whose fame must live, while from his numbers flow
The Bastard's energy and heav'nly glow;
Nor shall his fate e'er cease to claim the sigh,
While Johnson's pages greet the tearful eye.
No friendly tomb now registers his name,
No line records his suff'rings and his fame;
With lowly dust, though Savage mould'ring lies,
His radiant spirit this neglect defies;
Freed from all malice, his expanded mind
Pities the race by ignorance confin'd;
Smiles at the foes of wisdom's glowing reign,
And feels for Bristol dulness calm disdain.
When from its tenement life's spark was fled,
Thus numb'ring one more genius with the dead;
When the imprison'd body, soul-enchain'd,
Releas'd by death, a twofold freedom gain'd;
Who stood thy friend, who paid the last sad rite,
And veil'd thy mortal part from human sight?
Was it the great, that once confess'd thy pow'r,
And courted Savage at the social hour?
Was it thy friend, the critic of mankind,
In sense sublime, but warp'd in form and mind?
Was it the Bristol merchant, gorg'd with gold
From western isles, and blood that's bought and sold?
No; neither great, or wise, or rich was found
To hide life's remnant in its kindred ground:
Record it, muse! — a grave poor Savage ow'd
To one by custom us'd to rigour's road;
The common jailor felt his matchless sway,
Forgot his trade, led on by feeling's ray;
And thus inhum'd poor Savage had more state
Than lacquey'd by the titled rich and great;
By this he prov'd true genius has a charm
To wrench coercion from the ruthless arm.
Music tam'd monsters, and the poet's strain
Appeal'd in melting tones, nor spoke in vain;
Wak'd in a prison's ruler pity's fires,
Who gave that final boon life's state requires.

Though not with talents fraught so bright as thine,
Still are thy feelings, Savage, always mine;
Like thee, the slave of fancy's fev'rish will,
I err — repent — then err unconscious still;
Passion impels, while reason's dictates bland
Resist in vain the madd'ning, hot command;
Nature with kindling feelings nerv'd my frame,
And when inspir'd I own the vivid flame;
No menial thoughts the sov'reign thrill controul,
The rushing torrent quite o'erwhelms my soul.
Extremes are mine; now bliss, now anguish reigns,
Excessive transports, or acutest pains:
The medium to my senses thus unknown,
All, save thy genius, Savage, is mine own.