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“When peace with palm has crown'd thy brows, “ Haste thee, to pay thy pilgrim vows. “ There, observant of
lore, “ The pavement's hallow'd depth explore; " And thrice a fathom underneath 66 Dive into the vaults of death. “ There shall thine eye, with wild amaze, " On his gigantic stature gaze; “ There shalt thou find the monarch laid, “ All in warrior-weeds array'd; “ Wearing in death his helmet-crown, “ And weapons huge of old renown. “ Martial prince, 'tis thine to save 6 From dark oblivion Arthur's grave! “ So may thy ships securely stem “ The western, frith: thy diadem « Shine victorious in the van, “ Nor heed the slings of Ulster's clan: “ Thy Norman pikemen win their way
Up the dun rocks of Harald's bay:
Amid the pealing symphony
E'en now he seems, with eager pace,
BORN 1721.- DIED 1791.
THOMAS BLACKLOCK was born at Annan, in Dumfries-shire, where his father was a bricklayer. Before he was six months old, he was totally deprived of sight by the small-pox. From an early age he discovered a fondness for listening to books, especially to those in poetry; and by the kindness of his friends and relations, he acquired a slight acquaintance with the Latin tongue, and with some of the popular English classics. He began also, when very young, to compose verses; and some of these having been shewn to Dr. Stevenson, an eminent physician of the Scottish capital, the doctor benevolently took him to Edinburgh, where Blacklock improved his knowledge of Latin, and completed his studies at the university. The publication of his poems excited a general interest in his favour, and Professor Spence, of Oxford, having prefixed to them an account of his life and character, a second edition of them was liberally encouraged in London. In 1759, he was licensed as a preacher of the Scottish church. He soon afterwards married a Miss Johnston, a very worthy, but homely woman; whose beauty, however, he was accustomed to extol vith an ecstasy that made his friends regard his blindness as, in one instance, no misfortune. By the patronage of the Earl of Selkirk, he was presented to the living of Kirkudbright; but, in consequence of the violent objections that were made by the parishioners to having a blind man for their clergyman, he resigned the living, and accepted of a small annuity in its stead. With this slender provision, he returned to Edinburgh ; and subsisted, for the rest of his life, by taking young gentlemen as boarders in his house, whom he occasionally assisted in their studies.
He published an interesting article on Blindness in the Encyclopædia Britannica, and a work entitled “ Paraclesis, or Consolations of Religion,” in two dissertations, the one original, the other translated from a work which has been sometimes ascribed to Cicero, but which is more generally believed to have been written by Vigonius of Padua. He died of a nervous fever, at the
of seventy. Blacklock was a gentle and social being, but prone to melancholy; probably more from constitution than from the circumstance of his blindness, which he so often and so deeply deplores. From this despondent disposition he sought refuge in conversation and music. He was a tolerable performer on the flute, and used to carry a flageolet in his pocket, on which he was not displeased to be solicited for a tune.
His verses are extraordinary for a man blind from his infancy; but Mr. Henry Mackenzie, in his elegant biographical account of him, has certainly over-rated his genius: and when Mr. Spence, of
Oxford, submitted Blacklock's descriptive powers as a problem for metaphysicians to resolve, he attributed to his writings a degree of descriptive strength which they do not possess. Denina' carried exó aggeration to the utmost when he declared, that Blacklock would seem a fable to posterity, as he had been a prodigy to his contemporaries. It is no doubt curious, that his memory should have retained so many forms of expression for things which he had never seen; but those who have conversed with in. telligent persons, who have been blind from their infancy, must have often remarked in them a familiarity of language respecting the objects of vision which, though not easy to be accounted for, will be found sufficiently common to make the rhymes of Blacklock' appear far short of marvellous. Blacklock, on more than one occasion, betrays something like marks of blindness.
THE AUTHOR'S PICTURE.
While in my matchless graces wrapt I stand,
Self is the grand pursuit of half mankind:
1 In his Discorso della Literatura.
- VOL. VI.