1793 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Blacklock

William Taylor of Norwich, in Review of Blacklock, Poems; The Monthly Review NS 12 (December 1793) 216-17.



This monument to the manes of a poet who was blind from his infancy is erected, as the title imports, by the pious hand of Mr. Mackenzie. Beside the poems contained in Mr. Spence's edition of 1756, (which are here reprinted in the capricious order originally allotted to them, and which occupy 163 pages,) this volume is enriched with 50 pages of additional pieces on friendship and the immortality of the soul are, on the contrary, omitted, and replaced by a translation from the French of M. Hauy's celebrated essay on the education of blind children; which it were well to reprint and disseminate separately, in order to stimulate the institution of seminaries for the blind in this country, so remarkable for the eleemosynary virtues.

Of Dr. Blacklock's poetry, the character is well known. His devotional pieces are the most excellent, and not unworthy of being introduced into the rites of social worship. That the other pieces should be so correct and smooth, so purely English, will be for ever a matter of astonishment to those who contemplate the prodigious difficulty of putting recollected terms together, so as rationally to describe objects of which the writer has no idea. Visible images are, however, described by Dr. Blacklock with at least as much vivacity as the phaenomena of any other sense. Well might M. Denina exclaim that Blacklock will appear to posterity a fable, as to us he is a prodigy!

The account of the life and writings of this poet, here drawn up by Mr. Mackenzie, is a piece of composition exquisitely elegant and truly interesting; resembling, in manner the biographies of Dr. Johnson.