1816 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Pinkerton

Anonymous, in Biographical Dictionary of Living Authors (1816) 273-74.



This gentleman was born at Edinburgh in 1758, and educated at the Grammar School of Lanerk. Being intended for the profession of the law, he was placed in the office of a writer to the signet at Edinburgh, with whom he served a clerkship of five years. Soon after the death of his father, in 1780, he removed to London, where he has regularly continued to reside in the employment of the booksellers. Many years ago he married the sister of the present Bishop of St. David's, but without any blame on the part of the lady, the parties have been long since separated. In the year 1785, Mr. Pinkerton surprised the literary world with a very extraordinary performance, under the assumed name of Robert Heron, in which he ran down the ancients, and criticised the best of the moderns, with an air of assurance that could not have been warranted even by the most confirmed character of taste, learning, and judgment. In these ridiculous letters, he had also the vanity to recommend a new system of orthography more fantastical and absurd, if possible, than that which his countryman, Mr. Elphinstone, endeavoured, with so much zeal, to introduce. Mr. Pinkerton, by contriving to gain the friendship of the late Horace Walpole, afterwards Earl of Orford, became acquainted with Gibbon the historian, and other persons of eminence. When Lord Orford died, our author, very delicately, no doubt, sold his sayings, stories, and letters, to the proprietor of the Monthly Magazine, in which vehicle they appeared for about a year or two under the title of Walpoliana, and when the stock was out, the whole was reprinted in two small volumes, with a memoir of the deceased nobleman. The other publications of Mr. Pinkerton are [list omitted].