1831 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Maginn

John Gibson Lockhart, "Gallery of Illustrious Literary Characters: The Doctor" Fraser's Magazine 2 (January 1831) 716.



"SISTE pedem, SIGNIFER, hic optume manebimus:" be pleased to sit still, if you can (even on paper) but for a moment, that the European public may familiarize itself with your outward mannikin. Your name, ("Dog on it," as the Baillie says) has long been familiar to us all; but how few of the admirers of your genius have ever seen in the flesh Ensign and Adjutant Sir Morgan O'Doherty? Profit by this opportunity, ladies and gentlemen; this is the veritable Milesian, the undoubted heir and representative of the old Chiefs of the great Clan or Sept O'Gin.

This extraordinary specimen of the real original Phenician (or Punic) breed is now, we are credibly informed, in the thirty-seventh year of his age; but though Burns, Bellingham, and Byron worked themselves out by that time of day, the Doctor is still considered in full possession of many of his faculties. His locks indeed are silvery, and till of late that circumstance told against him; but in grief and vexation he shaved all off, at the period of "the breaking in upon the Constitution;" and having subsequently mounted an elegant nut-brown scratch, (the masterpiece of old Morgan of St. James's-street,) he now wears on the whole a juvenile aspect rather than otherwise. Our artist has caught, with singular felicity, the easy, good humoured nonchalance of this learned and libellous countenance. High Church and State doctrines should be seriously adopted, and manfully maintained. Whigs, Papists, Radicals, whatever comes under the disgusting category of Liberalism, should be exposed, insulted, stabbed, crucified, impaled, drawn, and quartered — in Essay, Disquisition, Review, Romance, Ballad, Squib, Pasquinade, and Epigram — in Greek. in Hebrew, in Latin, in Irish, in Italian, in English, and in Slang: but no interference with the calm pursuits of the scholar, or the graceful amenities of the gentleman. Take things easy after seven o'clock; from that hour until two in the morning be your own man; from two to ten be your own wife's man; from ten till seven again be the man of the public. Carpe diem. Leave no moment absolutely idle, and suffer no sense, however just, of superiority, to influence your conduct and demeanour. Be a Bentley, if you can, but omit the brutality — rival Parr, eschewing all pomposity — outlinguist old Magliabecchi, and yet be a man of the world — emulate Swift in satire, but suffer not one squeeze of his "saeva indignatio" to eat your own heart. Be and do all this, and THE DOCTOR will no longer be an unique.

Whether shining a precocious gem, in Trinity College, Dublin — or illuminating the young ideas of the Corkers — or sustaining the power and glory of Blackwood — or now co-editing the grand, unrivalled, staunch, sturdy organ of orthodoxy, the Standard — (we say nothing of a casual contribution to Regina) the redoubted O'DOHERTY has always been, is, and ever will be, the jovial also, the simple-hearted, the careless, and the benignant. FLOREAT DOCTOR! — Long may he continue at once the star of our erudition, our philosophy, and our dialectics, and, in his own immortal words,

A randy, bandy, brandy, no Dandy,
Rollocking jig of an Irishman!

Long may his mellow voice be heard in the land, now pouring out a rich flood of hexameters, [Greek characters] and now cheering the festive circle with the hearty, jolly, soul-stirring chaunt, which he indited in the days of his youth,

Drink to me only from a jug, and I will pledge in mine;

So fill my glass with whisky punch, and I'll not ask for wine!

We have always been of opinion, that had the Poet Laureate and "The Doctor" taken orders, they would have made two admrable Bishops.