1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Pinkerton

David Rivers, in Literary Memoirs of Living Authors (1798) 1:251-52, 2:133-35.



ROBERT HERON. A native of Scotland. He published, in 1785, some ridiculous Letters of Literature, in one volume, octavo, which experienced the merited severities of the critics of that day. In 1792, he published Arabian Tales; or a Continuation of the Arabian Night's Entertainment, in four duodecimo volumes. These tales had been translated from the original Arabic into French, and were, on the present occasion, translated from the French into English. In the same year he also published a Translation of Niebuhr's Travels through Arabia and other Countries in the East, in two octavo volumes. In the year following he published, Observations made in a Journey through the Western Counties of Scotland, in two volumes, octavo; and Proposals for a general History of Scotland, to be comprized in three octavo volumes. Of this History the first volume made its appearance in the following year, and, though not a first-rate performance, was not unfavourably spoken of. In 1794, he also published, a duodecimo volume of Letters which passed between General Dumourier and Pache, Minister of War to the French Republic, during the Campaign in the Netherlands, in 1792, translated from the original French, and Information concerning the Strength, Views, and Interests of the Powers at War, in one volume, octavo. And, in 1797, a Translation from the French of Garat's Memoirs of the Revolution, in an octavo volume. Mr. Heron has been a contributor to the new Encyclopedia Britannica....

JOHN PINKERTON,F.S.A., PERTH. A native of Scotland. His first publication was an octavo volume, in 1781, which he entitled, Rimes. Being of opinion that uniformity of stanza, when protracted to any degree must ever fatigue, as extinguishing the great source of all pleasure, variety, he here adopted a series of stanzas, in which, as in the Greek strophe, antistrophe, and epode, the two first correspond, and are succeeded by a third of a different measure. But the specimen with which Mr. Pinkerton here presented the public, was by no means peculiarly engaging. In the year following he published Tales in Verse, in a quarto pamphlet; and also two dithyrambic Odes; which are more distinguished by harshness and affected singularity, than by any species of excellence. Mr. Pinkerton's next publication was a useful Essay on Medals, which first appeared, anonymously, in a single octavo volume, in 1784, and was enlarged in two volumes in the second edition. The valuable assistance of Dr. Combe and Mr. Southgate, we believe, were afforded the author upon this occasion. In 1786, Mr. Pinkerton published, Ancient Scottish Poems, never before in Print, in two crown-octavo volumes; and, in the year following, a Dissertation on the Origin and Progress of the Scythians or Goths, in an octavo volume. His subsequent publications have been, an Enquiry into the History of Scotland, preceding the Reign of Malcolm III. in two octavo volumes, published in 1789; the first genuine edition of Barbour's Bruce, with notes and a glossary, in three volumes, duodecimo, published in 1790; Scottish Poems, reprinted from scarce editions, in three octavo volumes, published in 1792; Iconographia Scotica; or, Portraits of illustrious Persons of Scotland, with short Biographical Notices, Part I. II. III. IV; and the History of Scotland from the Accession of the House of Stuart to that of Mary, with Appendixes of original Papers, in two volumes, quarto, published in 1797. In the last of these works, Mr. Pinkerton has judiciously chosen the period of Scottish history which remained insulated between the accurate investigation of the earlier age, by Sir David Dalrymple, and the elegant History of the later times, by Dr. Robertson. He has produced a work of great merit, and, should it experience the favourable reception to which we think it entitled, it is his design to write, upon the same plan, the History of Scotland from the earliest Accounts to the Accession of the House of Stuart. Upon the whole, our opinion of Mr. Pinkerton as a writer is, that, notwithstanding an occasional unpleasant appearance of vanity, pedantry, causticity, and want of taste, he is possessed of real and extensive knowledge, much good sense, and sufficient originality. We think he is somewhat amenable on the score of Book-making.