1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Gavin Turnbull

Alexander Campbell, in Introduction to the History of Poetry in Scotland (1798) 308.



No sooner had the Paisley press produced the poems of Mr. E. Picken, than, in 1788, issued from the press of Mr. David Niven of Glasgow, the poetical essays of GAVIN TURNBULL. The "poetical essays" of Mr. Turnbull, are such as do him the highest credit. I am hopeful he will go on, for, in truth, the specimens already before the public, give, so far as I understand, uncommon satisfaction. It was the peculiar felicity of Burns, on his first entrance on the literary stage, to be patronized and supported, even to a degree, rarely the lot of the most consummate talents. It became, for a time, the rage, to use a fashionable phrase, to talk of him, recite his pieces, and boast of having spent an evening in company with the Ayreshire bard. No wonder then, if the contemporaries of Burns were neglected by those who are looked up to, as the umpires of literary reputation. But one consideration remained; the ingenious author escaped the mortification usually attendant on talents unaccompanied by prudence, that is, the supercilious sneer, indicative of altered opinion, and its humiliating consequences, cold indifference. Did not Burns experience all this?