1782 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Pennant

Anonymous, "Anecdotes of the Author" European Magazine 1 (June 1782) 432.



Thomas Pennant, Esq. is of a very ancient and honourable family; the dignity and respect of which, he has studied to maintain by the purest attention to the duties of hospitality and patriotism, which ought to be the distinguishing qualities of in English gentleman. Pennant studied at Oxford, and at a very early period of his life he applied himself to the prosecution of that extensive branch of knowledge, to the revival of which, in this country, he has so largely contributed; viz. natural history. Having finished his studies at college, he travelled but with views more extensive, and with a design very different from the common class of those who make the tour of Europe, and who have justly been rendered a subject for dramatic ridicule. He spent several years of his life in his favourite study of natural history on the continent; nor were his travels in search of nature confined to Europe. He returned to his native country with a mind most liberally endowed, and settled at his seat of Dawning in Flintshire, where he soon after married, and had two children. He was soon deprived of his lady, and entered a second time into the marriage state with a sister of Sir Roger Mostyn. His works are sufficiently known and admired; they are as follow: British Zoology, 4 vols. 4to. History of Quadrupeds, 2 vols. 4to. Genera of Birds, 4to. Tour in Scotland, 3 vols. 4to. Tour in Wales, 2 vols. 4to. and the article which is now before us. Mr. Pennant has not applied the profits of his labours to his own use. We understand that the profits of some of his works were appropriated to the Welch charity school, an institution of the most valuable kind; and which a man of Mr. Pennant's benevolent disposition could not fail, as an antient Briton, to patronize and promote. It is said of this gentleman, that having a very great desire to encourage the arts, and particularly that of engraving, he has always been in the habit of directing and managing the whole process of his works through the press. He employs his painter and engraver, his stationer and printer, and having by his own superintendence and liberality procured a splendid edition of his work, he calculates the whole of the expence, and gives the account, and the impression of the book to his publisher, desiring only that he will defray the expence, and he makes him a present of the copy. We have heard this anecdote, and mention it as a peculiarity of a singular nature, more than as a matter of praise; it is fortunate for Mr. Pennant, as well as his bookseller, that his large paternal estate enables him to act in this liberal manner. This will be mentioned to the credit of Mr. Pennant, without any disparagement of those authors, who, with equal generosity, have not the same power.