1773 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Savage

Percival Stockdale, in The Poet, a Poem (1773) 10-11 &n.



Though fortune frowned on SAVAGE from his birth,
Rather than doze a torpid son of earth,
Proprietor of India's richest mine,
I'd be that hapless favourite of the Nine:
And on the *ashes of a glass-house laid,
But raised to heaven by each Aonian maid,
My soul to rapture more than human wrought,
By ardent genius, by excursive thought.

* That I may strongly exemplify the constitution and fortune of the poet, I shall here quote two passages from Johnson's Life of Savage: though, I fear, the energy and harmony of their prose, will eclipse the poetry which they are cited to illustrate.
"He lodged as much by accident as he dined, and passed the night sometimes in mean houses, which are set open at night to any casual wanderers; sometimes in cellars, among the riot and filth of the meanest and most profligate of the rabble; and sometimes, when he had no money to support even the expences of these receptacles, walked about the streets till he was weary, and lay down in the summer upon a bulk, or in the winter, with his associates in poverty, AMONG THE ASHES OF A GLASS HOUSE.
"In this manner were passed the days, and those nights, which nature had enable him to have employed in elevated speculations, useful studies, or pleasing conversation. On a bulk, in a cellar, or in a glass-house, among thieves and beggars, was to be found the author of the Wanderer, a man of exalted sentiments, extensive views, and curious observations; the Man whose remarks on life might have assisted the statesman, whose ideas of virtue might have enlightened the moralist, whose eloquence might have influenced senates, and whose delicacy might have polished courts."
LIFE OF SAVAGE.