1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Scott of Amwell

William Forbes, in Life and Writings of James Beattie (1806) 2:107-08n.



John Scott of Amwell, near Ware, in Hertfordshire, was, as this letter indicates, one of the people called Quakers; a poet of no mean genius, as his Eclogues, Elegies, Odes, and other pieces which have been collected and published, amply testify. His two longest works are, Amwell, a descriptive poem, and an Essay on Painting. He was not less distinguished by the blameless simplicity of his manners, than by the warmth of his friendship, and the activity of his benevolence. Though bred to no profession, he was far from leading a life of idleness or inactivity; but while he amused himself with poetry and gardening, of which he was uncommonly fond, he employed much of his time in works of public utility in the vicinity of his residence. He published a pamphlet full of good sense and philanthropy, entitled Observations on the Present State of the Parochial and Vagrant Poor. He frequently interfered in their distresses, and was ever ready to stand forward as the arbitrator of differences among his neighbours. In general, he seems to have imitated the philanthropy of that well-known character, "The Man of Ross." Dr. Beattie, with whom, among other literary persons, he had become acquainted, and between whom a similarity of taste had produced an intimate friendship, alludes, in one of his letters, to this part of Mr. Scott's character: "I am astonished," says Dr. Beattie, "at the activity of your mind, and the versatility of your genius. It is really amazing, that one and the same person should, in one and the same year, publish the most elegant poems, and a Digest of Laws relating to the Highways. Go on, Sir, in your laudable resolution of delighting and instructing mankind, of patronising the poor, and promoting the public weal."

This amiable man died of a putrid fever at London, the 12th of December, 1783, in the fifty-seventh year of his age.