1825 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Knox

Walter Scott, 8 December 1825; The Journal of Sir Walter Scott, 1825-32 (1891) 39-41.



Talking of the vixisse, it may not be impertinent to notice that Knox, a young poet of considerable talent, died here a week or two since. His father was a respectable yeoman, and he himself, succeeding to good farms under the duke of Buccleugh, became too soon his own master, and plunged into dissipation and ruin. His poetical talent, a very fine one, then showed itself in a fine strain of pensive poetry, called, I think, The Lonely Hearth, far superior to those of Michael Bruce, whose consumption, by the way, has been the "life" of his verses. But poetry, nay, good poetry, is a drug in the present day. I am a poor patron.... I had him, Knox, at Abbotsford, about ten years ago, but found him unfit for that sort of society. I tried to help him, but there were temptations he could never resist. He scrambled on, writing for the booksellers and magazines, and living like the Otways, and Savages, and Chattertons of former days, though I do not know that he was in actual want. His connection with me terminated in begging a subscription or a guinea now and then. His last works were spiritual hymns, and which he wrote very well. In his own line of society he was said to exhibit infinite humour; but all his works are grave and pensive, a style perhaps like Master Stephen's melancholy, affected for the nonce.