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I then thought an instant of displeasure. That I was right in this supposition, the note now before me affords me the most ample testimony; nor did I apprehend that I should be guilty of personal affront to you when I spoke of a failing, from which in my soul I believe no human being is free. When I saw, however, that I had given you pain, I instantly added that I had found veins of candour in your writings more pure than I recollected in the writings of any other man; and this concession I thought would have sufficiently atoned with any man of temper and moderation.
• I deemed it more suitable to the sentiments of respect with which our acquaintance has impressed me for you, to say thus much, than to pass over your vote in silence and neglect. I am extremely grieved that a man of your uncommon merit should be liable to a caprice so violent and undeserved. If it were true, indeed, that“ in scarcely one principle of religion, morals, politics, or literature, is there a shadow of agreement between us," this would strip our acquaintance of many charms. But this is the coloring of your passion, not the decision of your tranquil reason. I find too few men in the world of your extensive information, your industrious research, your power of investigation, your principles of honour, and your general candour of mind, not to cherish their intimacy when I find them, by every act of kindness and friendship it occurs to me as possible to exert. My predilections of this sort are soberly formed, and almost impossible to be shaken. A moment's reflection will teach you that this is honest commendation. I can have no earthly temptation to fatter you ; and, if I had, I shonld disdain it. May you meet with many friends more competent than I to appreciate your merit; and more fortunate in not giving you inadvertent offence! In the temper ihat now directs you, the acknowledgment will probably be fruitless; but I have not the smallest difficulty in saying, that I am extremely sorry that any act of mine, however innocent of an intention unjust or unkind, should have given you occasion of displeasure.'- vol. ii. pp. 105-107.
Pinkerton received a still more severe and manly castigation from Mr. Allen, whom he appears to have accused of writing an unpalatable review of his Modern Geography. The principles by which a literary judge should be guided, are well explained in Mr. Allen's answer on this subject. Friendship has, or, at least, ought to have, nothing to do with criticism. To be useful, it must be impartial. Friendly eulogy is easily detected, and it generally injures the work it is meant to serve. Animosity should equally be absent from the critical chair. Nothing can be more odious than the introduction of personal feelings of hostility, under the masque of a review. Mr. Allen must, however, speak for himself.
Howick, October 24, 1807. Your very angry, and, as it appears to me, very unjust complaints against the Edinburgh reviewers, reached me at Hamilton, as I was setting out on a tour through the Highlands; and since that time I have been so much occupied with travelling and other avocations, that I have not had leisure to answer them. For this delay I beg you to accept my apology; and, without further preface, I shall now proceed to make such comments on your letter, as its contents seem to me to demand.
• I must in the first place, observe, that having re-perused the review of your Geography, which I guess to be the one of which you complain, I do not find it to be of such a nature as to justify, in any degree, the language you hold respecting it. The reviewer alleges that your book falls greatly short of its pretensions and of his expectations; and he accuses you of having compiled it with unpardonable carelessness and inattention, as well as with a culpable disregard of the interests of the purchasers of the former edition of your book. Of the justice of these charges I wish to give no opinion; but I must observe, that the reviewer brings, or attempts to bring, evidence of their truth; and that, however severe his strictures are against your book, there is nothing in the tone or language of his criticism which indicates personal hostility towards you, or betrays any secret malignity or unfair prejudice in his mind.
* But, in the second place, I cannot admit that the slight and casual intercourse which has subsisted betwixt us, has been such as to disqualify me from being the reviewer of any book which you have published, or may hereafter choose to publish; or as may afford you any reasonable ground of complaint against me. for being so. I have had twice, I think, the pleasure of meeting you at dinner; and I have had a good deal of correspondence with you, partly in answer to your enquiries about Spanish America, and partly on the subject of some charts of the Cape of Good Hope, which you were desirous to dispose of to the late government to the best advantage; and, in both cases, I did my utmost to serve you, though unsuccessfully. But I never conceived, nor can I now conceive, that so slight a connexion as this ought to prevent me from reviewing any of your books, or from saying of them, in decent and becoming language, what in my opinion ought to be said.
* These general discussions, however, are unnecessary at present; for I have no hesitation to inform you that I am not the author of the review which appears to have given you so much uneasiness ; nor have I ever reviewed
your books; nor did I ever see the review in question, till it was published in the Edinburgh Review. But it is at the same time perfectly true, that having been disappointed in your book on Geography, from which, it seems, I had expected too much, I made no secret of my sentiments with regard to it; and, when I understood that the Edinburgh reviewers meant to review it, I furnished them with a long catalogue of errors in your translations from the Spanish, which I had noted down as I read your book. Of this catalogue, I perceive they have made considerable use in their review; and it flatters me, I confess, to observe that, with regard to that part of the review in which alone I have any concern, you attempt not, in your letter, to vindicate yourself from those criticisms, but endeavour to throw the blame on your amanuensis. That your book has suffered from the faults of your amanuensis I am ready to believe, and I sincerely regret that your bad health should have compelled you to trust so much to so inadequate an assistant; but that the accuracy or sense of your translations should have been affected by his infirmities, is what I cannot understand. You must not accuse me of being deficient in candour, when I say that your vindication reminds me of the defence of a noted Highland chieftain, against a charge of bad orthography.
“ How can yon spell so ill ?” said a friend to the laird of “ Who could spell better with such a pen?” was the laird's reply.
* I cannot conclude without expressing my regret that, before writing so angry a letter, you had not first inquired what share I had in the review of which you complained.'—vol. ii. pp. 360–364.
No reproach, we believe, has been cast upon the moral conduct of Gibbon, huwever hostile he may have been to Christianity. Pinkerton was no imitator of his in this respect. He has unfortunately left behind him abundant evidence of principles seriously shaken, and of a heart not a little corrupted. He married a respectable woman, whom he soon abandoned. He then fell into irregularities, which, in due course, helped to degrade him from the rank in society to which his talents and his labours had entitled him. His disputes with his publishers, Messrs. Cadell & Co., and Messrs. Longman & Co., which are here most unnecessarily given at much length, are far from being creditable, either to his good faith in fulfilling his contracts, or to his veracity in representing them. We cannot understand what excuse can be given for the allegations contained in his letter upon the subject of Colonel Gordon's travels in Africa.
• Rue des Moulins, No. 42, à Paris,
April 20th, 1804. • If you
wish to publish one of the most important of modern voyages, I can safely recommend the work to you. It will present the four journies of Colonel Gordon, Commandant of the Dutch troops at the Cape of Good Hope, into the interior of Africa, in one of which he discovered the great Orange River, which remains undescribed, and almost unknown, in maps. The original views, &c., are about four hundred, of which a selection may
be made for the publication ; but all must remain the property of the widow.
• The work may form one or two volumes, in 4to., as you feel inclined to more or less expense. The manuscripts are in the Dutch language ; but, if the work be published in London, I should arrange and digest the whole in English; and it might be printed here under my eye, or the manuscript and drawings sent to London by a safe conveyance.
*If you do not choose to purchase the absolute property, perhaps you may wish 10 have the preserence in an English translation ; in which case Madame Gordon will stipulate with the French bookseller to send you
the sheets, on your paying her the usual perquisite. But, in case you purchase the work, you may arrange matters with her for the French translation. In all respects, she is a religious and most respectable character, and too wealthy to stoop to any duplicity ; so you may rest assured, that if you purchase this work, no other edition will be thought of, and even the French translation left to your own discretion.
I suppose 6001. for one, or 12001. for two volumes, would be a fair price. Less than 6001. for one, would not be accepted, as the booksellers here offer a correspondent value, and with less trouble.
• I beg your answer as soon as possible.'-vol. ii. pp. 306—308.
The name of the bookseller, to whom this letter was addressed, is not mentioned. The work was declined by the respectable publishers already mentioned, as Mr. Barrow's excellent production had then just made its appearance. But it appears, from the sub
sequent correspondence, that Pinkerton, for the sake of making a good bargain, in which, no doubt, he was to have participated, ventured upon two assertions which were entirely devoid of iruth; first, that Madame Gordon was opulent, and secondly, that the booksellers in Paris had made the offer which he mentions. But the more we read of Pinkerton's letters, particularly those which were written towards the close of his career, the less we are surprised at his disregard for every thing like dignity of character. The following letter, addressed by him, to Mr. Nichols, points out a mode of obtaining compensation for a libel, which, assuredly, no literary man would now think of.
Hampstead, March 31st, 1810. *I have no correspondence with * * *; but I let him know months ago, that he certaioly owed your father for ***. Mr. Barlow, the engraver, can confirm it from the number of maps sent.
Your father can certainly see himself righted.
It is odd enough that just about the time I was thus attending to your father's interest, there was, as I am told, a scurrilous libel printed in your Magazine. Its malignity is the more strange, as it proceeds on a mere omission of three words by one Griffith, who then carelessly printed the Monthly Magazine. I wonder your father's personal knowledge of me did not prevent this. I am sure such a thing against him should not appear in any journal under my management. I hope that in his own vindication he will give up the author.
• This is the more unjust, as I sent, for many years, several curious articles (particularly twelve letters on English history), for which I was never paid one farthing; whilst I have eight guineas per sheet for all I send to Olber magazines. As your father admits libels against me, I hope he will shew his impartiality by paying me for my labours in that very work which now abuses me.'-vol. ii. p. 392.
We shall only add two letters more. In the first of these, Pinkerton receives the agreeable intelligence, from Mr. Henry Siddons, that his tragedy, 'The Heiress of Strathern, was unsuccessful. The reader will smile at the efforts of the writer to sweeten the pill which he has to administer, as much as he possibly can.
· Edinburgh, March 24th, 1813. • I was in hopes that I should have seen you when the play was over last night. I can assure you no possible exertion was spared on the part of the performers. Several poetical passages were most highly applauded ; but, when the audience discovered the circumstance of the brother and sister, they grew outrageous, and would hardly suffer Mr. Jerry to conclude the play.
• I stood on the stage several minutes to obtain a hearing for it a second night, which I could not effect. I still was in hopes of carrying the point: but, when the farce began, the storm was renewed'; and nothing would pacify the audience but the giving out another play. The repetition would have only been wounding your feelings, which, I can assure you, I consulted at least as much as I did my own; for my interests were concerned in its being acted on this night. That the piece should not bave answered our wishes I most truly regret upon every account.'-vol. ii. pp. 404–406.
The last letter which we shall give it is the last also in the collection) is a real curiosity ; it is from the pen of the late Mr. Coutts, the banker, and reminds us forcibly of his tall, straight, thin, shrivelled form, and his inflexible habits of business.
• Strand, January 31st, 1815. • I have received the favor of your letter, asking me to withdraw the claim for interest on the sum I lent on the security of a house ; but the footing upon which you have put the request is one I have uniformly at all times thought to be such as I ought to reject, and have rejected accordingly. The bankers in Scotland, and the country banks in England, are on a different plan from those of London. They circulate their own notes, and make payments in them; we give out no notes of our own, and, if we were to give interest at even one per cent. per annum, we should be losers by our business.
· We do not consider ourselves as being obliged to any person who place money in our hands, however considerable: it is to the aggregate and general mass of society that we owe our situation, and to the credit our prudence and attention has obtained for us; and people deposit their money in our hands for their own advantage and conveniency, not from favor to us; nor do we desire to have it on any other terms.
Probably you may not understand the explanation I have spent time in making, which I can very ill spare, and it may therefore answer no purpose; but it satisfies myself; and I wish to show equal attention to all my employers, whether they have large or small sums in my hands, which indeed hardly ever occupies my attention.
My attention is fully engrossed in doing business with honor and regularity, leaving the rest to the common chance and course of things. It surprises me, that, though it every day appears that there is very little truth published in the newspapers, yet people will still believe what they read, especially abuse, or what they think is against the character or prudence of the person treated of. I saw some paragraphs, and heard of more, of what I had done for Mr. Kean, in all which there is not a word of truth ; though I see no reason why I might not, without offence to any ove, have given Mr. Kean any thing I pleased. In doing any little matter in my power for any individual, I must add I never had any view to celebrity with the present age or with posterity.
If I should know of any gentleman wanting a travelling companion abroad, I shall mention you to him; but it seldom happens that I am applied to in such matters.'-vol. ii. pp. 459, 460.
Although several of the letters presented to the world in these volumes, are little creditable to the character of Pinkerton, yet we agree with the editor, in thinking that the collection is calculated to read us an instructive lesson. Independently of the chit-chat and anecdotes which they contain, and which, to literary men, are more or less interesting, even when apparently trifling, these communications afford a warning which may be useful to persons just embarking upon the sea of life. Pinkerton having raised himself to fame, such as it was, from the lowest obscurity, by the force of his