1781 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Savage

William Preston, in "Epistle to a young Gentleman" 1781; Poems (1793) 1:181-82.



He too, that glory'd in a bastard's name,
The patient pupil of reproach and shame.—
No father's smile, nor mother's tender tears,
Chear'd the sad cradle of his infant years.
Lo, time for him prepares the scorns and whips,
And steeps in poverty beyond the lips—
Oh, Savage, doubly born of noble kind,
And tenfold noble in th' exalted mind,
Want, fear, and calumny with dire controul,
And blood oppressive cling around thy soul!
Oft to themselves their pangs the wretched owe,
But, Savage, thine from crimes of others flow:
What demons steel a shameless woman's breast!
Maternal fury, wilt thou never rest?
With vilest falshoods, ev'ry fiend-like art,
The human harpy rends his bleeding heart.
Unweary'd hate the curse of being gave,
Pursued thro' life, and sunk him to the grave.
Oh Savage, curst with elegant desires,
Th' ennobled nature, the poetic fires;
Thy roving wishes spread th' unweary'd wing,
Their sad returns of misery to bring;
No peaceful olive proves their wand'rings past,
But noxious herbs, and fruits of bitterest taste.
In dreary prospect, dire existence lies,
Where crowding sorrows, woes on woes, arise;
The murder'd hopes, departed faith of friends,
And mildest death, the long perspective ends.
Alas, what joy thy parting moment smooth'd,
By Pope embitter'd, by a jailor sooth'd;
Strange comforter! He chear'd thy prison's gloom,
He gave thy reliques to the decent tomb.