1736 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Richard Savage

D. Thomas, "To Richard Savage Esq. Son to the late Earl Rivers" Gentleman's Magazine 6 (November 1736) 678.



Forbid it heaven! can a soul like thine
Not bear misfortunes, but at ills repine?
Can grief or passion swell thy lab'ring breast,
Nor inward worth afford the proper rest?
Exert thy genius, and then trace mankind,
With all their errors open to thy mind.
Tho' born to think — the thinking tribe how few!
See honour lost in title's gaudy shew!
See truth and virtue laugh'd by fools to scorn!
And shallow minds how ribbonds do adorn!
"My lord has genius, sense and judgment clear,
My lord has full five thousand pounds a year."
The vulgar thus. — Savage! wou'd you presume
Thus to be prais'd, and be a mere Sir Plume?
Grant, on your life the worst of fate attends,
When they your foes, whom nature meant your friends;
Such friends to me, to others have been given,
Yet equal, wise and good the ways of heaven.
To you superior gifts in rich return
For heaps of wealth, and glaring titles born,
The righteous pow'rs with bounteous hand afford
(For all your pressing ills a full reward)
A mind that's open to the voice of truth,
To sense accustom'd from your earliest youth,
Free and unshackl'd, studious to descry
Reason's bright glare, 'midst learn'd obscurity.
'Twas truth and reason tun'd thy earliest song,
When Hoadly's merit dwelt upon thy tongue.
Add that the truly wise thy fate deplore,
Thy sprightly wit admire, thy judgment more.
By Pope belov'd and prais'd, if fond of fame,
With his shall future ages join thy name.
A tasteless age, you'll say; we grant it true:
Merit depress'd — yes — Savage! 'tis in you.
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On this depend, the age will ne'er deny
To worth, to wants like thine, a fit supply;
For sure there are remains of modesty.
With generous scorn then view the vulgar great
Direct ambition to a happier state
Than that which wealth or pompous title brings,
Or from the coxcomb's adulation springs.
Dare be your self; attend to reason's lore;
Sweet is her voice, and charming is her pow'r.
She'll mildly teach, how passions to controul,
And how to fill with peace the lab'ring soul.
She forms just characters from flatt'ry free;
Points at the truly great! and, Savage, points at thee?