The Wart That Was

‘The Duke of Rutland subscribed for no fewer than ten copies, since Savage had written him a poem about his wife the Duchess’s recovery from smallpox the previous year: one of Savage’s most nimble pieces of opportunism’ (Richard Holmes, Dr Johnson and Mr Savage)

One is reminded, inevitably, of the late eighteenth century poet Casimir Snook, whose stock-in-trade consisted of odes composed ‘in honour of a receding malady’. The most famous is, of course, To Maria, Whose Wart Was Successfully Removed, though I have always had a soft spot for earlier works, including the majestic To Patrick, Who Recovered from Rickets, and the sublime Ode to Lord Matherson’s Wooden Leg.

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