1782 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Pinkerton

Anonymous, "Anecdotes of the Author" European Magazine 1 (July 1782) 49-50.



Mr. Pinkerton was born in Scotland, and for a great part of his youth applied himself to the study of the Scotch Law; he practised as a writer in Edinburgh for some time, when, by the death of a relation, he was happily relieved from a profession for which he was but moderately qualified either in temper or talents. He received upon this occasion about six thousand pounds, upon which he settled in the western part of his native country, and, without any ambition to be richer, he regulated his expence, and plan of life, so as to protect him against the misfortune of ever being poorer. We say that he was little qualified for the profession of the law, because it is not possible to conceive a man more uncouth in his manners, less polished, and accommodating than Mr. PInkerton. There is a sluggishness hangs about him, which he has had too much pride to correct; and having too long been the surly dictator of a private circle, who considered his solemnity as a proof of mental elevation, he is sore and petulant in all his commerce with the world, and attributes the diminution of his respect to the folly or the envy of those with whom he converses. This may be said to be a severe observation; it certainly is so, and can only be justified by its truth. He is a gentleman of benevolent disposition, and of a strong mind; he has talents, which, by a good-natured communion with men, might have been rendered truly valuable to society, as well as pleasant to himself, instead of which he has studied the world from a darkened room, and takes all his pictures of human life, as he does the images of poetry, from the chimeras of ancient time. Thus we see his only personages are fawns, and nereids, sylphs, and gnomes; and we cannot wonder that a man, who converses with such gentle spirits, should revolt from the gross contact of earthly creatures, and, of all earthly creatures, from those called Critics. We understand that Mr. Pinkerton has written a Comedy, intituled, The Philosopher, which has been very much praised by the chosen party of his friends, among whom are some justly eminent for their literary talents, and we by no means wish to prejudice the public against a piece with which we sincerely hope to see them greatly entertained; and we believe, whatever may be the sentiments of Mr. Pinkerton, that that which pleases an audience, the Reviewers will not condemn.