1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Mitchell

Richard Ryan, in Poetry and Poets: being a Collection of the choicest Anecdotes relative to the Poets of every Age and Nation (1826) 1:203-04.



Soon after the poet Thomson had published his Winter, he presented a copy of it to Joseph Mitchell, and, in return, he sent Thomson his opinion of the poem, in the following couplet:—

Beauties and faults so thick lie scatter'd here,
Those I could read, if these were not so near.

To this hypothetical piece of criticism, Thomson replied:

Why all not faults, injurious Mitchell, why
Appears one beauty to thy blasted eye?
Damnation worse than thine, if worse can be,
Is all I ask, and all I want from thee.

A friend, to whom Thomson submitted his answer, remarked, that the expression, "blasted eye," would look like a personal reflection on Mitchell, who really suffered under that misfortune; and Thomson made the awkward change of the epithet into "blasting."