1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Dr. John Wolcot

Margaret Oliphant, in The Literary History of England (1882) 2:218-19.



John Wolcot, or Peter Pindar, as he called himself, had gone through a whole Odyssey before his appearance in the London streets as a man of letters and satirical poet. He had been brought up in the medical profession in his youth, but, going to Jamaica, had found apparently that it would suit his purposes better to be a clergyman, and, according to the easy methods of the time, came home and got himself ordained by the then Bishop of London, for the advantage of his West Indian patients. When he came back finally to England he threw off the clerical character and resumed the medical; and while trying to establish himself in Cornwall in the latter profession, picked up as his surgery boy a little Cornishman, a miner's son, John Opie, who turned out to have what was considered at that time a genius for art. It was the glowing success of this young painter, whom he had honestly helped on and furthered with all his power, that brought Wolcot to London; and it was here apparently that the strange and abundant faculty of satiric verse which distinguished him found its way into public notice.