1795 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Boyse

Robert Anderson, in Works of the British Poets (1795) 10:333.



A melancholy instance of the wretchedness and disgrace which the most ingenious persons may bring upon themselves, by imprudence, indolence, and an indiscriminate indulgence of their appetites and passions. Had he employed the powers with which nature endowed him, in a manner suitable to the duties of reason and virtue, he might have been a happy and respectable man; instead of which he was exposed to all the miseries of the most extreme indigence; nor could the eminent talents which he possessed rescue him from contempt.

The unhappy fate of Boyse will bring to the recollection of those who are but slightly acquainted with the lives of our English writers, many instance of men of the brightest parts, whose lives, after an uninterrupted course of misery have terminated under the pressure of want. Otway, Savage, Pattison, and Chatterton, were admired, and at the same time neglected; praised, and at the same time starved.

"This relation," to use the forcible language of Dr. Johnson on a similar occasion, "will not be wholly without its use, if it remind those, who in confidence of superior excellence of superior capacities or attainments, disregard the common maxims of life, that nothing can supply the want of prudence; and that negligence and irregularity, long continued, will make knowledge useless, wit ridiculous, and genius contemptible."