1831 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Blacklock

John Wilson Croker, Note in Boswell, Life of Johnson, ed. Croker (1831) 1:478n.



Dr. Thomas Blacklock was born in 1721; he totally lost his sight by the small-pox at the age of six years, but was, nevertheless, a descriptive poet. He died in 1791. "We may conclude," says his biographer, "with Denina, in his 'Discourso della Letteratura,' that Blacklock will appear to posterity a fable, as to us he is a prodigy. It will be thought a fiction, that a man blind from his infancy, besides having made himself master of various foreign languages, should be a great poet in his own, and without having hardly seen the light, should be so remarkably happy in description." Johnson, no doubt, gives the true solution of Blacklock's power, which was memory, and not miracle; and, mark the result! who now quotes, nay, who now reads a line of Blacklock?