1804 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Beattie

Anonymous, "Sketch of James Beattie, LL.D." Port Folio [Philadelphia] 4 (1 December 1804) 382.



Professor of Moral Philosophy and Logic, in Marischal College, Aberdeen. In 1761, Doctor 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 Spenser, 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 Doctor Priestly, and particularly recommended its author to the friendship and esteem of Doctor 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 Doctor Porteus: a volume on the Theory of Language: and, Elements of moral Science, in two volumes, octavo. Doctor 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, but not with a view to general circulation.