Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/329

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


JAMES PERRY.


123


ployment as a clerk in some writer's chambers. Even this, however, he could not obtain ; and, after hanging about the city for many weeks, making daily, but ineffectual efforts to get into a way of earning a subsistence, he came to the resolution of trying his fortune in England. With this view, he proceeded to Manchester, where he succeeded in obtaining a situation in the counting- house of a Mr Dinwiddie, a respectable manufacturer, in which he remained for two years. During his stay in Manchester, Mr Ferry, who was yet only in the nineteenth year of his age, attracted the notice, and procured the friend- ship and patronage, of several of the principal gentlemen in the town, by the singular talents he displayed in a debating society, which they had established for the discussion of moral and philosophical subjects. This favourable opinion of the youthful orator's abilities was still further increased, by his producing several literary essays of great merit.

Encouraged by this success, Mr Perry determined to seek a wider field for the exercise of his talents; and with this view set out for London, in the be- ginning of the year 1777, carrying with him a number of letters of introduc- tion and recommendations from his friends in Manchester to influential in- dividuals in the metropolis. For some time, however, these were unavail- ing. He could find no employment ; and he seemed as hopelessly situated now in the English, as he had been in the Scottish capital two years before. But the occurrence of a circumstance, not uninteresting in the memoirs of a literary man, who fought his way to fame and fortune by the mere force of his talents, at length procured him at once the employment which he sought, and placed him on the path to that eminence which he afterwards attained.

While waiting in London for some situation presenting itself, Mr Perry amused himself by writing fugitive verses and short essays for a journal, called the " General Advertiser." These he dropped into the letter-box of that paper, as the casual contributions of an anonymous correspondent, and they were of such merit as to procure immediate insertion. It happened that one of the parties to whom he had a letter of recommendation, namely, Messrs Richardson and Urquhart, were part proprietors of the Advertiser, and on these gentlemen Mr Perry was in the habit of calling daily, to inquire whether any situation had yet offered for him. On entering their shop one day to make the usual inquiry, Mr Perry found Mr Urquhart earnestly engaged in reading an article in the Advertiser, and evidently with great satisfaction. When he had finished, the former put the now almost hopeless question, Whether any situation had yet presented itselfp and it was answered iu the usual negative ; " but,' 1 added Mr Urquhart, " if you could write such articles as this," pointing to that which he had just been reading, " you would find immediate employment." Mr Perry glanced at the article which had so strongly attracted the attention of his friend, and discovered that it was one of his own. He instantly communicated the information to Mr Urquhart ; and at the same time pulled from his pocket another article in manuscript, which he had intended to put into the box, as usual, before returning home. Pleased with the discovery, Mr Urquhart immediately said that he would propose him as a stipendiary writer for the paper, at a meeting of the proprietors, which was to take place that very even- ing. The result was, that on the next day he was employed at the rate of a guinea a-week, with an additional half guinea for assistance to the " London Evening Post," printed by the same person.

On receiving these appointments, Mr Perry devoted himself with great assi- duity to the discharge of their duties, and made efforts before unknown in the newspaper establishments of London. On the memorable trials of admirals Keppel and Palliser, he, by his own individual exertions, transmitted daily