1775 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Pinkerton

James Beattie to John Pinkerton, 13 December 1775; Pinkerton, Literary Correspondence (1830) 1:1-2.



I have been so much engrossed with business and bad health, that till this day I could not find leisure to answer your very obliging letter. Your intention of inscribing to me your poem on Craigmillar castle, does me much the more honour than I have any title to. Please to accept of my best thanks for this instance of your kind partiality, and for the obliging manner in which you speak of what I have attempted in poetry.

There are many good lines in your poem; but, when you have kept it by you a week or two, I fancy you will not think it correct enough to appear in public. Young poets are very apt to publish their pieces immediately on writing them out; but they ought always to keep them for a year, or at least for several months, and revise them from time to time. I have erred in this way myself, and therefore can warn them from my own experience.

You will see I have been very free in my remarks, which I hope you will excuse; for I did it with a most friendly intention. On these occasions, I think it is the duty of a friend to be as critical as possible.

I heartily wish you success in your studies, and am with much regard and esteem, . . .