1852 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Maginn

William Jerdan, in Autobiography of William Jerdan (1852-53) 3:83.



Maginn was born in Cork, in 1794, and began his literary career on this side of the Channel in the Literary Gazette soon after it started, and at a time when, I believe, he took a share in the management of his father's academy. A little before the date of his communicating with Blackwood he first tried his anonymous experiment on me, and under the name of Crossman, No. 8, Marlborough-street, Cork, surprised and delighted me more than I can express. I can well remember with what pleasure I was wont to receive his large folio sheet, covered closely all over with manuscript, and supplying me with rich and sparkling matter, to adorn and enliven, at least, two or three successive number of the "Miscellaneous Sheet." There was always a perfect shower of varieties; poetry, feeling or burlesque; classic paraphrases, anecdotes, illustrations of famous ancient authors (displaying a vast acquaintance with, and fine appreciation of, them,) and, in short, Mr. Crossoman's proper hand on the address of a letter,and the post-mark "Cork" were about the most welcome sight that could meet my editorial eye and relieve my editorial anxieties. In publishing he adopted all kinds of signatures, and never could be traced by them; and till he chose to throw off the veil of mystery, and treat you confidentially, it was as impossible to know "where to have him," as it was to have Mrs. Quickly! In later days he was often funning — I can find no other word to express it — in Blackwood and the Gazette at the same time, and getting up such strange equivoques as were no less puzzling than amusing. He was the master of Punch, pulled the strings as he listed, and made the puppets dance, squeak, and fight for the sheer entertainment of the gaping crowd.