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JOHN PINKERTON (1758–1826)

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Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 627 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JOHN PINKERTON (1758–1826)  , Scottish archaeologist, numismatist and author, was born at
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Edinburgh on the 17th of
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February 1758 . He was articled as a law clerk in Edinburgh, and his
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Elegy on Craigmillar Castle (1776) was printed during his clerkship . In 1781 he removed to
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London to devote himself to
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literary
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work,
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publishing in the same
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year a
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volume of Rimes of no
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great merit, and Scottish Tragic
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Ballads . These were followed in 1782 by Two Dithyrambic Odes on
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Enthusiasm and
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Laughter, and by a series of Tales in Verse . Under the title of Select Scottish Ballads he reprinted in 1783 his tragic ballads, with a supplement comprising Ballads of the Comic Kind . Ritson pointed out in 1784 that the so-called ancient ballads were some of them of
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modern date, and Pinkerton confessed that he was the author of the second
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part of Hardy Kanute and part author of some others . He published an Essay on Medals in 1784, and in 1785, under the pseudonym of " Robert Heron," his bold but eccentric Letters of Literature depreciating the classical authors of
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Greece and Rome . In 1786 he edited Ancient Scottish Poems from the MS. collections of
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Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington—a genuine
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reproduction . It was succeeded in 1787 by a compilation, under the new pseudonym of " H . Bennet," entitled The
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Treasury of Wit, and by his first important
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historical work, the Dissertation on the Origin and Progress of the Scythians or Goths, to which Gibbon acknowledged himself indebted . Pinkerton next ccllected and printed in 1789 certain Vitae sanctorum scotiae, and, a little later, published his Enquiry into the
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History of Scotland preceding the Reign of Malcolm III . His assertion that the
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Celtic
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race was incapable of assimilating the highest forms of
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civilization excited " violent disgust," but the Enquiry was twice reprinted, in 1794 and 1814, and is still of value for the documents embodied in it .

His edition of

Barbour's Bruce and a Medallic History of England to the Revolution appeared in 179o; a collection of Scottish Poems reprinted from scarce
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Editions in 1792; and a series of
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biographical sketches, the Iconographia scotica, in the years 1795–1797 . In 1797 he published a History of Scotland from the Accession of the House of Stuart to that of Mary, containing much valuable material . A new biographical collection, the Gallery of Eminent Persons of Scotland (1799), was succeeded after a short
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interval by a Modern Geography digested on a New Plan (1802; enlarged, 1807) . About this time he
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left London for Paris, where he made his headquarters until his
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death on the loth of March 1826 . His remaining publications were the Recollections of Paris in the years 1802–3–4–5 (18o6); a very useful General Collection of Voyages and Travels (1808–1814); a New Modern
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Atlas (18o8–1819) ; and his Petralogy (1811) .

End of Article: JOHN PINKERTON (1758–1826)
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