1812 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Andrew Macdonald

Isaac D'Israeli, in Calamities of Authors (1812) 1:208-10.



About twenty years ago, the town was once amused almost every morning by a series of humorous or burlesque poems by a writer under the assumed name of Matthew Bramble — he was at that very moment one of the most moving spectacles of human melancholy I have ever witnessed.

It was one evening I saw a tall, famished, melancholy man enter a bookseller's shop, his hat flapped over his eyes, and his whole frame evidently feeble from exhaustion and utter misery. The bookseller inquired how he proceeded in his new tragedy. "Do not talk to me about my tragedy! Do not talk to me about my tragedy! I have indeed more tragedy than I can bear at home! I have indeed more tragedy than I can bear at home!" was the reply, and the voice faultered as he spoke. This man was Matthew Bramble, or rather — M'DONALD, the author of the tragedy of Vimonda, at that moment the writer of comic poetry — his tragedy was indeed a domestic one, in which he himself was the greatest actor amid his disconsolate family; he shortly afterwards perished. M'DONALD had walked from Scotland with no other fortune than the novel of The Independent in one pocket, and the tragedy of Vimonda in the other. Yet he lived some time in all the bloom and flush of poetical confidence. Vimonda was even performed several nights, but not with the success the romantic poet, among his native rocks, had conceived was to crown his anxious labours — the theatre disappointed him — and afterwards, to his feelings, all the world!