1796 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Jackson Pratt

Anonymous, in Lounger's Common-Place Book (1796) 2:97.



Pratt never was popular. — It has been demanded, why? He was (at least ten years ago) pleasing in his person and manners; and at table, where there was Madeira for the complaint in his stomach, he had, for a woman's man, much interesting anecdote and ready information; perhaps he trod too closely on the heels of pompous plausibility, and affected refinement. With many literary, and many social accomplishments, how can we account for his being received, in certain circles, with an aukward kind of cautious reserve?

This I could only impute to his tendency to unceasing panegyric, on young men of a certain description, with lively imaginations, and well-lined pockets. On these affectors of literary association, he is said to have occasionally levied contributions, I mean in the fair way of debtor and creditor; for I acquit him of the infamy of gambling tricks, that modern fashionable shabby way, of making use of a friend. Pratt's conduct was rather the common, perhaps the justifiable finesse of a clever fellow, who could say good things, and praise the man, in prose or rhyme, who could not; but had plenty of guineas, almost the only commodity which the man of genius was without.