« ZurückWeiter »
BY THE LATE
PROFESSOR OF MORAL PHILOSOPHY IN THE UNIVERSITY Or EDINBURGH, EDITOR
OF BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE, AUTHOR OF "THE ISLE OF PALMS," ETC.
WM. MAGINN, LL.D. J. G. LOCKHART, JAMES HOGG, &c.
MEMOIRS AND NOTES
By R. SHELTON MACKENZIE, D.C.L.
EDITOR OF SHEIL's "SRETCHES OF THE IRISH BAR"
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854,
By J. S. REDFIELD, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States, in and for the Southern
District of New York,
WILLIAM MAGINN, LL.D.
BY DR. SHELTON MACKENZIE.
WILLIAM Maging, one of the most distinguished writers of his time, and very eminent for his knowledge of ancient and modern literature, was an Irishman. His father kept a classical academy in Marlborough-street, Cork, where William (the eldest son*) was born on the 10th July, 1793. From the earliest age, he had a great aptitude for acquiring knowledge—so much so, that before he had completed his tenth year, young Maginn was sufficiently advanced to enter Trinity College, Dublin. The entrance examination there is nearly as difficult, after four years' study, as that on which students obtain their degrees at the Scotch and many other universities. Maginu's answering was so good, on this examination, that (the rank being invariably given according to merit) he was “placed” among the first ten, out of more than a hundred competitors, two-thirds of whom were double his own age.
The distinction which he thus obtained, at the commencement of his university career, he preserved to its close. He passed through all his classes with credit, obtained several prizes, appeared to learn without an effort, and graduated before he was fourteen. No one (since the brilliant career of Cardinal Wolsey, at Oxford) better merited the appellation of “ The BoyBachelor." His college tutor, Dr. Kyle, then a fellow and afterwards Provost of the University,t repeatedly declared, in after years, that Maginn, while in his teens, had more literary and general knowledge than most men of mature age whom he had ever met.
* John Magicn, the second son, is now a beneficed clergyman in the South of Ireland. Their sister, Miss Maginn, was mistress of a school for young ladies, in Cork, and, being erudite and a blue-stocking, wrote a novel-which made no sensation when published. This was before my time, and if I ever heard, I have forgotten the name of this fiction.-M.
+ In 1830, on the death of Dr. St. Lawrence, Dr. Samuel Kyle was made Bishop of Cork and Ross, at the head of which See he remained until his death in 1848. It was his friendsbip which provided John Magino with church-preferment.-M.
Returning to Cork, Maginn became principal assistant in his father's school. In 1813, his father died, and William Maginn, at the age of twenty, on whom was now thrown the necessity of supporting his family, determined to carry on the school,—a course which he pursued, with marked success, for ten years, when he retired, his brother succeeding him.
While Maginn resided in Cork, it obtained the name of “The Athens of Ireland,” and was highly distinguished for the energy and success with which its sons applied themselves to the cultivation of literature. Among the most eminent Irishmen of the present day, at least one-half belong to the city or county of Cork. An eminently social man, Maginn soon became “ the life, grace, and ornament of society,” in his native city. Nor did he spare the quip and the jest, the epigram and the satire, upon his townsmen's vulnerable points. In his youth, he as freely and fearlessly hit at them, right and left, as, in riper years, at statesmen, publicists, and authors. Throughout his life he never could understand how, when the arrow had hit the mark, it was possible for it to rankle in the wound. That, after the writer had forgotten the squib, the victim whom it had ridiculed could feel annoyed, was wholly out of his calculation,-almost beyond his comprehension. Never was satirist less influenced by ill-nature. There was no motive of malice in his wittiest sar
The subject tempted him—he dashed off the impromptu—laughed at it, as others did—dismissed it from his mind—and saw no reason why he should not be as friendly as before with him whom he had made ridiculous.
In 1816, being then only twenty-three years old, Maginn received the de gree of Doctor of Laws, from his Alma Mater.* His standing in the university was over thirteen years, and the degree-which never before had been obtained by one so young-was his, of right.
Dr. Maginn, with some leisure, his head filled with learning and miscellaneous knowledge, and teeming with wit and frolic, took to authorship, almost as a matter of course. It is not worth while to notice his contributions to the local newspapers. His first communication to any periodical out of Ireland was sent, in 1819, to the Literary Gazette, which had been commenced not long before, and, from the peculiar character of its critiques, (giving full and well-selected quotations from the newest books,) had obtained a large provincial circulation. He did not write, for a long time, under his own name, but signed his letters “P.J. Crossman." His articles for the Gazette, at this time, consisted chiefly of miscellaneous scraps in prose and verse, parodies of well-known songs, translations from and into several languages, bagatelles of all sorts, notices of books, and discussions on classical literature. All this
* It may be proper to state that though the degree of Doctor of Laws is conferred, by right or favor, (“causâ bonoris,'') by the principal universities of Great Britain and Ireland, Oxford alone makes Doctors of Civil Law. Hence, all others affix the initials LL.D. to the reci. pient's name, while D.O.L. peculiarly denotes the Oxford man.-M.