1859 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Ogilvie

William Anderson, in Scottish Nation (1859-66) 8:262.



John Ogilvie, D.D. a poet of considerable genius, was the son of the Rev. Mr. Ogilvie, one of the ministers of Aberdeen, where he was born, about 1733. Having been duly licensed for the Church, he was appointed, in 1759, minister of Midmar, Aberdeenshire, where he continued till his death in 1814. His life was devoted to literary pursuits, and the faithful discharge of his pastoral duties; and his personal history was only varied by the publication of his numerous works, and an occasional visit to London, where he became acquainted with Dr. Johnson, by whom he was much esteemed. He was a fellow of the Royal Society, Edinburgh. Scarcely one of Dr. Ogilvie's works is known to the general reader, even by name, at the present day. "The truth is," says the writer of his memoir, in the Lives of Eminent Scotsmen, "Ogilvie, with powers far above the common order, did not know how to use them with effect. He was an able man lost. His intellectual wealth and industry were wasted in huge and unhappy speculations. Of all his books, there is not one which, as a whole, can be expected to please the general reader. Noble sentiments, brilliant conceptions, and poetic graces, may be culled in profusion from the mass; but there is no one production in which they so predominate, if we except some of his minor pieces, as to induce it to be selected for a happier fate than the rest. Had the same talent which Ogilvie threw away on a number of objects been concentrated on one, and that one chosen with judgment and taste, he might have rivalled in popularity the most renowned of his contemporaries."