1810 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Blacklock

Anonymous, in "Biographical Memoir of Hugh Downman" Gentleman's Magazine 80 (January 1810) 81.



Dr. Downman's poetical talents were early discovered at Edinburgh; and Dr. Blacklock, "himself a Muse," ardently embraced a brother of Arcadia. He was no admirer of Spenser, and in a familiar conversation, Spenser was once the subject. Dr. Penny remarked, that his dislike was unreasonable, and that one book, at least, of the Fairy Queen, was not less remarkable for its elegance and poetical beauties, than for the spirit and fancy of its descriptions; this was, he said, intituled, The Land of the Muses. Dr. Blacklock did not remember it, and the book was brought, not Spenser's, but Downman's, which Dr. Blacklock's infirmity prevented him from discovering. He admired it greatly, on Dr. Penny's reading it, and the next morning told his assistant to take down Spenser, and read to him the Land of the Muses. No such book was however to be found, and the pleasant imposition was soon explained. It is probable from the address to Dr. Blacklock, however, that the plan was designed, and the poem written for the purpose: "Which thee alone t' amuse first framed were." This poem was published at Edinburgh in 1768.