Page images

your manuscript,* and shall be very willing to correct the


Beg his immediate answer to you; and then, if he declines it, I will try to connect you with another bookseller: as soon as you are apprised of Mr. Dodsley's intentions, I shall be glad to be favoured with your commands.


Easton Manduit, Jan. 11th, 1781.

I was last night favoured with yours of the 9th January, and am extremely glad that you have come to an agreement with Mr. Nichols, and can now superintend your own publication yourself.†

* The manuscript very narrowly escaped being destroyed. But a few days after the date of this letter, a fire happened in Dr. Percy's apartments in Northumberland House, and he wrote to inform Mr. Pinkerton of the subject on the 10th April. "You will doubtless have been alarmed," " he says, "lest your papers should have perished; but I have the pleasure to inform you that you have sustained no injury: nor have I suffered the tenth part of the loss I might have expected, considering the extent and violence of the flames. Almost all my most valued books and papers were rescued by the firemen, who snatched most of them unhurt out of the fire; among the rest, the cabinet that contained your manuscript."

↑ Mr. Pinkerton, having finished his clerkship, had at this time removed to London, and was now residing at No. 2, White Horse Court, Southwark. Dr. Percy had, in a previous unpublished letter, recommended his applying to his printer and relation Mr. Nichols, who would be willing to bring out

For, except a very short time that I was in London with the Duke of Northumberland, on his first return from Alnwick Castle in the autumn, I have never been in London since I received your letter in June, assenting to the proposals which I had then made this I mention, as an apology for not having myself committed your collections to the press before. However, I shall now be happy to observe the progress of the press, and will with great pleasure obey any commands of yours respecting it. Herewith I transmit, not only the ballad you desire, but your former extracts from Drummond, &c., as perhaps you may have some use for the latter.


Carlisle, Dec. 28th, 1781.

I received your very obliging favor, and thank you for the corrected leaf, which I shall insert in

the work upon the terms he had mentioned, in case Mr. Dodsley and Mr. Cadell declined it. By the same letter, it appears that Mr. Pinkerton even then gave indications of that irritability of temper and impatience of contradiction, which was so great a source of his unhappiness in after life. "You will find," says Dr. Percy, "that I have not presumed to make any alterations in your manuscript collections; but, if you have no objection, you may drop whatever appears in any degree hostile or too sharply controversial respecting myself or my own slight publications, merely to prevent the necessity of answers, &c."

your volume, when I return into the south; for, unluckily, in the hurry of business, in which I was involved last summer at my removal here, I left behind me your elegant volumes, which would have been the agreeable amusements of such moments of leisure, as I could have been able to snatch from the cares and interruptions of a public situation; and then I should have been happy to have communicated any remarks that had occurred to me; though, indeed, they could at best only have been slight and trivial, and therefore hardly worth the attention of one who had considered the subjects so much more maturely as you have done.

I shall be very glad to see any future publication of yours, and especially the Letters of Literature,* which you propose. You are truly obliging in offering to admit any thing of mine into such good company. But, unfortunately, I have nothing here to offer worth your acceptance. What

These Letters, though then in embryo, were not published till the year 1783: it had been well for Mr. Pinkerton's reputation had they never been published at all. In a copy now before me, lately the property of one of our most eminent critics, Mr. Park, I read the following very just quotation, in his handwriting, "multa venustè, multa tenuiter, multa cum bile." Mr. Pinkerton himself, in his Walpoliana, p. 78, admits that Heron's Letters was 66 a book written in early youth, and contained many juvenile crude ideas long since abandoned by its author." Would that the crudeness of many of the ideas were the worst that was to be said of it! but we shall find, in the course of this correspondence, far heavier and not less just complaints. The name of Heron here assumed by Mr. Pinkerton, was that of his mother.

ever slight attempts in the Belles Lettres, &c. have escaped the fire and pastry-cook, are peaceably slumbering in my closet in Northamptonshire, the sequestered retreat that gave them birth, and where for many years I led a life of rural leisure, most agreeably devoted to literary amusements, now obliged to be exchanged for a life of business, and those constant demands of my time and attention which my present duties require from me. Were I disposed to yield to envy and regret, I need only look back on my younger years, spent, like yours, with agreeable leisure in literary pursuits; but I shall turn aside from whatever is mortifying in the comparison, to offer my sincere wishes for your success in all your elegant and refined labours.


Aberdeen, February 7th, 1782.

I am much obliged to you for your hint. Be assured that, if the public could be prevailed on to judge of your poems as I do, (which will in time be the case,) you would have no reason to complain. I know not what the reviewers may have said of them; for I seldom see any review. I have been exceedingly busy since I had the pleasure to see you at Edinburgh, in preparing for the press nothing less (I assure you) than a

quarto volume.* My bad health and bad eyes (I am sorry that yours should resemble mine) make me proceed but slowly however, I have now finished about 500 quarto pages, and shall be in a condition to go to press soon. In one of my discourses, having occasion to speak of the revival of letters, and of the Provençal Troubadours, I have a note at the foot of the page, in the following words. "Richard I., King of England, and Count of Poitou, was a generous patron of the Troubadours, and at length came to imitate them with no bad success. Two of his

[ocr errors]

poems, with some other Provençal pieces, are very well versified in a volume, intitled RIMES, (printed for Mr. Dilly, 1781.) in which volume there is great store of poetical ideas, expressed with strength, elegance, and harmony."

This can be of no use to you; but it will do me honor to be known to have read and to approve your work. I had thoughts of giving your name, and calling you my friend; but, as your book is anonymous, I would not take that liberty without your consent. Besides, I am not sure, whether what is said will not look better, if it appear to be accidental. However, I will do in this exactly as you are pleased to order.

* Dissertations, moral and critical, on Memory and Imagination; on Dreaming; on the Theory of Language; on Fable and Romance; on the Attachment of Kindred; and Illustrations on Sublimity. London. 1783. 4to.

« PreviousContinue »