William Hamilton Reid (fl. 1784-1827)


The first—and indeed most—of William Hamilton Reid’s poems were published in The Gentleman’s Magazine. Little is known of his life prior to his contributions to the GM. As Arthur Sherbo notes, his output in the GM “displays a wide-ranging knowledge of languages, both classical and modern” (ODNB), despite being “a minor poet, born in Glasglow of humble parents” (245). In fact, he was compared in the GM to Robert Burns, as both were of humble origins. Among the works he was known for was a book on Napoleon, essays on society, and, of course, poetry; he also worked on translations of poetry from numerous languages despite no record of formal education (ODNB). Although considered to be a “Grub-street hack,” his poems display a keen command of language on a variety of topics.

The poem “The Panic; or a Meditation supposed to be written upon the Discovery of the Plague” first appeared in The Gentleman’s Magazine in 1789. It was later published in The Scots Magazine in September 1789.

Works Cited

Sherbo, Arthur (1996) “William Hamilton Reid (fl. 1786-1824): A Forgotten Poet,” Studies in Scottish Literature, (29:1): 245-57.

Sherbo, Arthur “William Hamilton Reid.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004.