Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/330

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124 JOHN PINKERTON.


from Portsmouth eight columns of a report of proceedings taken in court, an achievement which had the effect of adding several thousands to the daily im- pression of the paper. Even while thus laboriously engaged, Mr Perry wrote and published several political pamphlets and poems on the leading topics of the day, all possessed of much merit, though of only transient interest.

In 1782, Mr Perry commenced a periodical publication, entitled "The European Magazine." This work, which was on a plan then new, comprising a miscellany on popular subjects and reviews of new books, appeared monthly, and from the ability with which it was conducted, added greatly to the reputa- tion and popularity of its editor. Having conducted this journal for twelve months, Mr Perry was, at the end of that period, chosen by the proprietors of the Gazetteer to be editor of that paper, in which shares were held by some of the principal booksellers in London, at a salary of four guineas per week ; but under an express condition, made by himself, that he should be in no way constrained in his political opinions and sentiments, which were those of Mr Fox, of whom he was a devoted admirer. While acting as editor of the Gazetteer, Mr Perry effected a great improvement in the reporting department, by em- ploying a series of reporters who should relieve each other by turns, and thus supply a constant and uninterrupted succession of matter. By this means he was enabled to give in the morning all the debates which had taken place on the preceding night, a point on which his predecessor in the editorship of the Gazetteer had frequently been in arrears for months, and in every case for several weeks.

One of Mr Perry's favourite recreations was that of attending and taking part in the discussions of debating societies. In these humble, but not inefficient schools of oratory, he always took a warm and active interest, and himself acquired a habit of speaking with singular fluency and force ; a talent which procured him the notice of Pitt, who, then a very young man, was in the practice of frequenting a society in which Mr Perry was a very frequent speaker, and who is said to have been so impressed with his abilities as an orator, as tc have had an offer of a seat in parliament conveyed to him, after he had himself attained the dignity of chancellor of the exchequer. A similar offer was after- wards made to Mr Perry by lord Shelburne; but his political principles, from which no temptation could divert him, prevented his accepting either of these flattering propositions.

Mr Perry edited for several years Debrett's Parliamentary Debates, and af- terwards, in conjunction with a Mr Gray, bought the Morning Chronicle from Mr Woodfall, a paper which he continued to conduct with great ability and in- dependence of spirit and principle till his death, which took place at Brighton, after a painful and protracted illness, on the 6th December, 1821, in the sixty- fifth year of his age.

PINKERTON, JOHN, a voluminous historian and critic, was born at Edinburgh on the 17th February, 1758. 1 He was the youngest of three sons of James Pinkerton, who had, in Somersetshire, acquired an independence as a dealer in hair, and returned to his native country, Scotland, where he married a widow whose maiden name was Heron. The opening of young Pinkerton's intellect, fell to the charge of an old woman acting as schoolmistress of a village near Edinburgh, and he was afterwards removed to the grammar school of Lanark. At school he is said to have shown, in apathy and abstinence from the usual boyish gratifications, the acidity of disposition for which he was afterwards more particularly distinguished. Hypochondria, inherited from his father, is believed to have been the primary cause of the characteristic. He is said to ' Nichols' Lit. Illustrations, v. 666.