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JOHN PINKERTON, ESQ.
NOW FIRST PRINTED
FROM THE ORIGINALS IN THE POSSESSION OF
DAWSON TURNER, ESQ., M.A., F.R.S.
IN TWO VOLUMES.
HENRY COLBURN AND RICHARD BENTLEY,
NEW BURLINGTON STREET.
THE Letters which form the greater part of the present Volumes were selected by Mr. Pinkerton himself for the purpose of publication. include, among others from personages known to fame, epistles by Lord Buchan, Gibbon the historian, and Horace Walpole, besides a copious store of curious anecdotes, exhibiting the history of a literary man from the beginning to the end of his career; a man of a capacious mind, great acuteness, strong memory, restless activity, and extraordinary perseverance. These anecdotes afford a striking proof of the power of talents and industry to raise their possessor in the scale of society, as well as in the opinion of the world. Unfortunately, they are also calculated to read us another and not less instructive lesson, that somewhat more is required to turn such
advantages to their full account; and that the endowments of the mind, unless accompanied by sound and consistent principles, can tend but little to the happiness of the individual, or to the good of society. The close of Mr. Pinkerton's life was sadly dissimilar to what was promised at its outset. Destitute as he was of the adventitious advantages of birth or fortune, he saw himself, while yet scarcely more than a boy, caressed and courted by men of rank and literary fame he sank into the grave chilled by neglect, and oppressed by want. In youth he wrote for his pleasure and reputation; in age for his daily bread. One of the most eminent of our contemporaries,* in drawing a comparison between him and a very kindred spirit, Ritson, observes, with no less truth than sadness, that "the sun set "heavily on both; for Joseph Ritson's whimsicali"ties terminated in mental alienation, and the
career of Pinkerton, which in its commence"ment attracted the notice of Gibbon, who de
sired to adopt him as an associate in the pro
posed task of editing the British historians, "ended in exile, in obscurity, and, we fear, in indigence. His studious and laborious dispo
*See Quarterly Review, XLI. p. 138, an article so generally attributed to Sir Walter Scott, that I do not hesitate to quote at under his name,