1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Beattie

David Rivers, in Literary Memoirs of Living Authors (1798) 1:37-39.



James Beattie, LL.D. Professor of moral Philosophy and Logic, in Marischal College, Aberdeen. In 1761, Dr. Beattie published an octavo volume of original poems and translations: and, in 1766, The Judgment of Paris, a poem, in quarto. The first book of his highly celebrated poem, The Minstrel, was published in quarto, in the year 1770, and about three years afterward, the second book made its appearance. The elegance and feeling which characterise this poem, written in imitation of the Stanza of Spencer, have been too generally acknowledged to stand in need of our panegyric. His beautiful song called The Hermit: the Cave of Pope, and other poems have also obtained him distinguished applause.

Not satisfied with wearing the poet's wreath; Dr. Beattie entered the lists with the celebrated Mr. David Hume, in an Essay on the Immutability of Truth. This performance was very favourably received by the clergy; was answered by Dr. Priestly, and particularly recommended its author to the friendship and esteem of Dr. Porteus, the present Bishop of London. In 1776, he published a quarto volume of Essays on Truth, Poetry, Music, &c. and, in 1784, a quarto volume of Dissertations Moral and Critical. His subsequent publications have been, Evidences of the Christian Religion briefly stated, in two small octavo volumes, which were drawn up at the particular request of Dr. Porteus: a volume on the Theory of Language: and, Elements of moral Science, in two volumes, octavo. Dr. Beattie not long ago experienced a severe calamity, in the death of his son, a young gentleman of brilliant talents and promising genius. The Doctor printed some Memoirs of his Life, for the purpose of distributing them among his numerous acquaintance, not with a view to general circulation.