Poetry: Savage Comments on Journalists
Richard Savage, whose birthday falls in January, was a close friend of Johnson who celebrated his unfortunate life and death in prison from liver failure. This passage is from a longer satire "The Authors." Note how brutally relevant are down to the last detail, e.g., the stupid press's attack on inoculation and their cruelty toward the unfortunate.
Next, Pamphleteers a Trade licentious drive,
Like wrangling Lawyers, they by Discord thrive.
If Hancock proves Cold Water's Virtue clear,
His Rival prints a Treatise on Warm Beer.
If next Inoculation's Art spreads wide,
(An Art, that mitigates Infection's Tide)
Loud Pamphleteers 'gainst Innovation cry,
Let Nature work - 'Tis natural to die.
IF Heav'n-born Wisdom, gazing Nature thro',
Thro' Nature's Optics forms Religion's View,
Priestcraft opposes Demonstration's Aid,
And with dark Myst'ry dignifies her Trade.
IF Ruin rushes o'er a Statesman's Sway,
Scribblers, like Worms, on tainted Grandeur prey
While a poor Felon waits th' impending Stroke,
Voracious Scribes, like hov'ring Ravens, croak.
In their dark Quills a dreary Insult lies,
Th' Offence lives recent, tho' th' Offender dies;
In his last Words they suck his parting Breath,
And gorge on his loath'd Memory after Death.
WRETCHES, like these, no Satire wou'd chastise,
But Follies here to ruthless Insult rise;
Distinguish'd Insult taints a Nation's Fame,
And various Vice deserves a various Shame.