1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Christopher Smart

Robert Southey, in Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807) 2:443.



Smart's was an unhappy life; imprudent, drunken, poor, diseased, and at length insane. Yet he must not be classed with such as Boyse and Savage, who were redeemed by no virtue, for Smart was friendly, and liberal, and affectionate. His piety was fervent, and when composing his religious poems, he was frequently so impressed as to write them on his knees. In his fits of insanity, it became his ruling passion, he would say his prayers in the streets, and insist that people pray with him. He composed a Song to David when in confinement, and being denied the use of pen, ink, and paper, indented the lines upon the wainscot with the end of a key.