1820
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Letter from Lord Byron, enclosing the Commencement of Childe Daniel.

Blackwood's Magazine 7 (May 1820) 186-87.

William Maginn


Three anonymous Spenserians, a burlesque elegy on the fallen champion of Ireland, Sir Daniel Donnelly — with the usual bantering notes: "Why will Coleridge and Wordsworth continue to bother the world with their metaphysics? FANCY and IMAGINATION! Neither of them can tell the difference. Sam, write another Christabelle — but William, thou Sylvan Sage, no more Excursions, though joking apart, thou art the best of all the Pond poets. Mousley Hurst is the 'green navel' of Fancy-land." These verses are possibly by John Gibson Lockhart.

Robert Shelton Mackenzie: "Donnelly was a strong, hard-fisted Irishman, a carpenter by trade, who had fought with Oliver, an English pugilist, in July 1819, and beaten him. On returning to Dublin, Donelly opened a public house, and used to relate, to gaping and admiring auditors, how the Prince Regent had sent for him, after the fight, and knighted him. A couple of years hard drinking finished him, and he died in February 1820, — his immediate cause of illness being thirty-seven tumblers of punch taken in one sitting! Maginn, in Blackwood for May, 1820, gave a 'Luctus for the death of Sir Dan. Donelly,' in which learning and wit were largely employed and well blended" Noctes Ambrosianae, ed. Mackenzie (1854) 1:28n.

George Saintsbury: "The collections of Maginn's works are anything but exhaustive, and the work itself suffers from all the drawbacks, probable if not inevitable, of work written in the intervals of carouse, at the last moment, for ephemeral purposes. Yet it is instinct with a perhaps brighter genius than the more accomplished productions of some much more famous ones. The Homeric Ballads, though they have been praised by some, are nearly worthless; and the longer attempts in fiction are not happy. But Maginn's shorter stories in Blackwood's, especially the inimitable 'Story without a Tail,' are charming; his more serious critical work, especially that on Shakespeare, displays a remarkable combination of wide reading, critical acumen, and sound sense; and his miscellanies in prose and verse, especially the latter, are characterised by a mixture of fantastic humour, adaptive wit, and rare but real pathos and melody, which is the best note of the specially Irish mode. It must be said, however, that Maginn is chiefly important to the literary historian as the captain of a band of distinguished persons, and as in a way the link between the journalism of the first and the journalism of the second third of the century" History of Nineteenth Century Literature (1896) 204.

George Kitchin: "Blackwood had greeted the first two cantos of Don Juan with a tremendous moral broadside, but Maginn had no such moral scruples, and the many coarse imitations of the manner scattered throughout the Magazine from 1818 to 1822 are only evidence of his admiration for the poet. These imitations, The Mad Banker, Daniel O'Rourke, the Lothian Ball, etc., do not bear quotation. Nor is there any parody of his lordship in Blackwood which will. Like the other literary journals, Blackwood is immensely concerned with Byron in these years, and oscillates between a desire to scratch and genuine admiration for the prodigal display of wit" Survey of Burlesque and Parody in English (1931) 219.

Though the burlesques in Blackwood's have generally been ascribed to Maginn, Thomas Aird assigns several to David Macbeth Moir: "he was now pouring forth in the all manner of jocularities in prose and verse — familiar letters and rhyming epistles from O'Doherty; mock-heroic specimens of translations from Horace; Christmas carols by the fancy contributors, Mullion and the rest; ironical imitations of living poets; Cockney love-songs; puns and parodies; freaks and fantasias endless — all little wotted of by the world as coming from him" Poetical Works of D. M. Moir (1860) 1:15.



In Fancy-Land there is a burst of wo,
The spirit's tribute to the fallen; see
On each scarr'd front the cloud of sorrow grow,
Bloating its sprightly shine. But what is he
For whom grief's mighty butt is broach'd so free?
Were his brows shadow'd by the awful crown,
The Bishop's mitre, or high plumery
Of the mail'd warrior? Won he his renown
On pulpit, throne, or filed, whom death hath now struck down?

He won it in the field where arms are none,
Save those the mother gives to us. He was
A climbing star which had not fully shone,
Yet promised in his glory to surpass
Our champion star ascendant; but alas!
The sceptred shade that values earthly might,
And pow'r, and pith, and bottom, as the grass,
Gave with his fleshless fist a buffet slight;—
Say, bottle-holding Leech, why ends so soon the fight?

What boots it t' inquire? — 'Tis done. Green mantled Erin
May weep here hopes of milling sway past by,
And Crib, sublime, no lowlier rival fearing,
Repose, sole Ammon of the fistic sky,
Conceited, quaffing his blue ruin high,
Till comes the Swell, that come to all men must,
By whose foul blows Sir Daniel low doth lie,
Summons the Champion to resign his trust,
And mingles with Kings, Slaves, Chieftains, Beggars' dust!

[pp. 186-87]