McGonagall Assaulted

“We poets in our youth begin in gladness,” says Wordsworth in his noble ode to “Resolution and Independence” — “But thereof comes in the end despondency and madness.” Considering the way that Poet McGonagall, of Dundee, has been treated by certain of his fellow townsmen, there can be no wonder at that. Poet McGonagall, who is a bard of high renown in these northern parts, was recently engaged in the important business of selling his own effusions. Amongst his other customers he visited one James Boland, who, “in a gentlemanly way,” gave the poet twopence for the offering. James’ brother, however, did not regard the minstrel with much favour, and from words the two came to blows. It must have been an inspiring spectacle to the onlookers to behold the poet girding up his loins, hanging his harp on a willow tree, and going for the clothier who had aftronted him. The upshot of the scrimmage was that Poet McGonagall lost a tooth, and brought an action for assault. The case was duly heard at Dundee Police Court, and again the versifier distinguished himself by striking a tragic attitude in the witness-box, and reciting his wrongs at the pitch of his voice. It was all of no avail. The hard-hearted magistrate was not enticed from the ways of legal righteousness by the seer’s eloquence. He listened stolid and unmoved to Poet McGonagall’s harrowing description of the ill-treatment to which he had been subjected, and at the end of it found the charge not proved. It was always thus. The prophet is ever without honour in his own country. The indifference that killed Keats and drove Chatterton to despair is pursuing their great successor, McGonagall, and all that is left for him to do in the face of an irreverent age is to dash down the cup of Samian wine, and address the magistrate in the words of Gray’s Welsh bard — Ruin seize thee, ruthless king! Confusion on thy banners wait! Though fanned with conquest’s crimson wing-,They mock the air in idle state.


Sheffield Evening Telegraph, 12th May 1888

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