1912 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Macken

D. J. O'Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (1912) 283.



JOHN MACKEN. — Minstrel Stolen Moments, or Shreds of Fancy, Dublin, 1814; 8vo; The Harp of the Desert, containing the Battle of Algiers and other poems (over pseudonym of "Ismael Fitzadam"), London, 1818; Lays on Land (over pseudonym of "Ismael Fitzadam"), London, 1821.

Born at Brookeborough, Co. Fermanaugh, in or about 1784, being the son of Richard Macken of that place. Some doubt exists as to his ever having been an able seaman, as he calls himself in his second volume, for according to his autobiographical letter to A. A. Watts, given in the latter's Poetical Album (1828-29), and certain poems of his, it would appear he was never in the navy. Nor was he so unsuccessful as some accounts imply, as the same letter and Watt's inquiries show. He dedicated his second volume to Lord Exmouth, commander at the battle of Algiers, who took no notice of it. Macken wrote for various annual and other periodicals, such as The Literary Gazette (London), general over his assumed name of "Ismael Fitzadam." Henry Nugent Bell, the genealogist, was a great friend of his, and introduced him to Jerdan, the editor of The Literary Gazette, who took a deep interest in the poet. After leaving London, a disappointed man, Macken became editor of The Erne Packet or Enniskillen Chronicle, and wrote for it constantly. He died on the 7th of June (his monument says May,) 1823, aged 39, and was buried in Aughaveagh Parish Church, where there is a memorial to him. A poem entitled "Napoleon Moribundus" has been erroneously attributed to Macken, and several correspondents to Notes and Queries (third series), praised him very highly on account of it. It was, however, written by Thomas McCarthy (q.v.). For references, letters and poems, see Jerdan's Autobiography (Vol. III. pages 39-45, and appendices C and E), Literary Gazette (1823), etc. The well-known poetess, Letitia E. Landon, wrote some lines on his death.