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insincerity, and even of want of principle, were he to quit, without any other apparent motive than that of bettering bis circumstances, the church of which he had hitherto been a member. Other reasons he assigned, on this occasion, of some, but less weight, all which prevailed on his friends to withdraw any farther solicitation, while they honoured the motives by which he was influenced. In the same year he refused the offer of a professor's chair in the university of Edinburgh, considering his present situation as best adapted to his habits and to his usefulness, and apprehending that the formation of a new society of friends might not be so easy or agreeable in a place where the enemies of his principles were numerous. To some of his friends, however, these reasons did not appear very convincing.
Although Mr. Beattie had apparently withdrawn his claims as a poet, by cancelling as many copies of his juvenile attempts as he could procure, he was not so inconscious of his admirable talents, as to relinquish what was an early and favourite pursuit, and in which he had probably passed some of his most delightful hours. A few months after the appearance of the “ Essay on Truth,” he published the “ First Book of the Minstrel,” in 4to, but without his name. By this omission, the poem was examined with all that rigour of criticism which may be expected in the case of a work, for which the author's name can neitner afford protection or apology. He was accordingly praised for having adopted the measure of Spenser, because he had the happy enthusiasm of that writer to support and render it agreeable; but objections were made to the limi. tation of his plan to the profession of the Minstrel, when so much superior interest might be excited by carrying him on through the practice of it. These objections appear to have coincided with the author's re-consideration, and he not only adopted various alterations recommended by his friends, particularly Mr. Gray, but introduced others, which made the subsequent editions of this poem far more perfect than the first.
The Minstrel, however, in its first form, contained so many passages of genuine poetry, the poetry of nature and of feeling, and was so eagerly applauded by those whose right of opinion was incontestable, that it soon ran through four editions; and in 1774, the author produced the “ Second Book ;” and as its success was not inferior to that VOL. IV.
of the first, it was the general wish that the author would fulfil his promise by completing the interesting subject; but the increasing business of education, the cares of a family, and the state of his health, originally delicate, and never robust, deprived him of the time and thought which he considered as requisite. In 1777, however, he was induced to publish the two parts of the Minstrel together, and to add a few of his juvenile poems.
During the preceding year, 1776, he prepared for the press a new edition of the “ Essay on Truth,” in a more splendid form than it had hitherto appeared in, and attended by a very liberal subscription, and with other circumstances of public esteem which were very flattering. The list of subscribers amounted to four hundred and seventy-six names of men and women of the first rank in life, and of all the distinguished literary characters of the time. The copies subscribed for amounted to seven hundred and thirty-two, so that no inconsiderable sum must have accrued in this delicate manner to the author. Dr. Beattie was by no means rich; his pension was only two hundred pounds, and the annual amount of his professorship never reached that sum.
The Essays added to this volume, and which he afterwards printed separately in 8vo, were “ On Poetry and Music;" on “Laughter and ludicrous Composition; and
on the utility of Classical Learning.” They were written many years before publication, and besides being read in the private literary society already mentioned, had been submitted to the judgment of his learned friends in England, who recommended them to the press. · For the frequent introduction of practical and serious observations, he offers a satisfactory reason in the preface to “Dissertations Moral and Critical, on Memory and Imagination; on Dreaming; the Theory of Language; on Fable and Romance; on the Attachments of Kindred ; and Illustrations on Sublimity,” 1783, 4to. These, he informs us, were at first composed in a different form, being part of a course of prelections read to those young gentlemen whom it was his business to initiate in the elements of moral science; and he disclaims any nice metaphysical theories, or other matters of doubtful disputation, as not suiting his ideas of moral teaching. Nor was this the disgust of a metaphysician “ retired from business.” He had ever been of the same opinion. Dr. Beattie's aim was, indeed,
in all his lectures, “to inure young minds to habits of attentive observation; to guard them against the influence of bad principles; and to set before them such views of nature, and such plain and practical truths, as may at once improve the heart and the understanding, and amuse and elevate the fancy*."
Of these Essays, the preference has been generally given to those on Memory and Imagination," and on « Fable and Romance,” and to “ The Theory of Language,
,” and in re-publishing the latter separately for the use of seminaries of education, he complied with the wish of many readers and critics.
During a visit to the metropolis in 1784, Dr. Beattie submitted to the late bishop of London, with whose friendship he had long been honoured, a part of a work which at that excellent prelate's desire he published in 1786, entitled “ Evidences of the Christian Religion briefly and plainly stated,” 2 vols. 12mo. This likewise formed part of his concluding lectures to his class, and he generally dictated an abstract of it to them in the course of the session. From a work of this kind, and on a subject which had employed the pens of the greatest and best English writers, much novelty was not to be expected, nor in its original form was any novelty intended. It must be allowed, however, that he has placed many of the arguments for the evidences of Christianity in a very striking and persuasive light, and it is not too much to suppose that if he could have devoted more time and study to a complete review and arrangement of what had, or might be advanced on these evidences, he would have produced a work worthy of his genius, and worthy of the grandeur and importance of the subject.
In the preface to Dr. Beattie's “ Dissertations,” he intimated a design of publishing the whole of his lectures on Moral Science, but from this he was diverted by the cogent reasons there assigned. He was encouraged, however,
* Cowper's praise of this volume, is his ease too, that his own character too valuable to be omitted :-" Beat. appears every page, and, which is tie, the most agreeable and amiable very rare, we see not only the writer, writer I ever met with; the only au but the man; and the man so gentle, thor I have seen whose critical and so well tempered, so happy in his rephilosophical researches are diversified ligion, and so humane in his philosoand embellished by a poetical imagi- phy, that it is necessary to love him if nation, that makes even the driest one has any sense of what is lovely." subject, and the leanest, a feast for an Hayley's Life of Cowper, vol. III. epicure in books. He is so much at
to present to the public, in a correct and somewhat en. larged form, the abstract which he used to dictate to his scholars. Accordingly, in 1790, he published “Elements of Moral Science,” vol. I. 8vo, including psychology, or perceptive faculties and active powers; and natural theology; with two appendices on the Incorporeal Nature and on the Immortality of the Soul. The second volume was published in 1793; containing ethics, economics, politics, and logic. All these subjects are necessarily treated in a summary manner; but it will be found sufficiently comprehensive, not only for a text-book, or book of elements, which was the professed intention of the author, but also as an excellent aid to the general reader who may not have an opportunity of attending regular lectures, and yet wishes to reap some of the advantages of regular education.
In vol. II. there occurs a dissertation against the Slave Trade, which the author informs us he wrote in 1778 with a view to a separate publication. He exposed the weak defences set up for that abominable traffic with wonderful acuteness, and thus had the honour to contribute to that mass of conviction which at length became irresistible, and delivered the nation from her greatest reproach.
To the second volume of the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, published in 1790*, he contributed “ Remarks on some passages of the sixth book of the Æneid.” This was, in fact, a dissertation on the mythology of the Romans, as poetically described by Virgil, in the episode of the descent of Æneas into hell; and the author's object was to vindicate his favourite poet from the charges of impiety, &c. brought against him by Warburton and others. In the same year he is said to have superintended an edition of “ Addison's periodical Papers,'' published at Edinburgh in 4 vols. 8vo. To this, however, he contributed only a few notes to Tickell's Life of Addison, and to Dr. Johnson's remarks. It were to be wished he had done more. Addison never had a warmer admirer, nor a more successful imitator.
In 1794 appeared the last work our author composed, and its history requires some notice of his family. In 1767 he married Miss Mary Dun, daughter of Dr. James Dun,
* About 1778 he printed a Letter to Dr. Blair « On the improvement of Psalmody in Scotland."
This was only privately circulated.
tained a few specimens of translations of the Psalms. He printed also some years after a list of Scotticisms, for the use of his students,
rector or head master of the grammar-school of Aberdeen, a man of great personal worth, and an excellent classical scholar.
With this lady Dr. Beattie enjoyed for many years as much felicity as the married state can add ; and when she visited London with him, she shared amply in the respect paid to him, and in the esteem of his illustrious friends. By her he had two sons, James Hay, so named from the earl of Errol, one of his old and steady friends; and Montagu, from the celebrated Mrs. Montagu, in whose house Dr. Beattie frequently resided when in London. While these children were very young, Mrs. Beattie was seized with an indisposition, which, in spite of all care and skill, terminated in the painful necessity of separation from her husband*. The care of the children now entirely devolved on the father, whose sensibility received such a shock from the melancholy circumstance alluded to, as could only be aggravated by an apprehension that the consequences of Mrs. Beattie's disorder might not be confined to herself. This aların, which often preyed on his spirits, proved happily without foundation. His children grew up without the smallest appearance of the hereditary evil; but when they had just begun to repay his care by a display of early genius, sweetness of temper, and filial affection, he was compelled to resign them both to an untimely grave. His eldest son died November 19, 1790, in his twentysecond year; and his youngest on March 14, 1796, in his eighteenth year.
Soon after the death of James Hay, his father drew up an account of his “ Life and Character; to which were added, “Essays and Fragments," written by this extraordinary youth. Of this volume a few copies only were printed, and were given as “presents to those friends with whom the author was particularly acquainted or connected.” Dr. Beattie was afterwards induced to permit the Life and some of the Essays and Fragments to be printed for publication. The life is perhaps one of the most interesting and affecting narratives in our language.
After the loss of this amiable youth, who, in 1787, had * Sir Wm. Forbes intimates that her marriage, it shewed itself in caprices symptoms of insanity were of an ear. that embittered every hour of his life, lier date. “Although it did not, for a till, at last, it unquestionably contriconsiderable time, break out into open buted to bring him to his grave." insanity, yet in a few years after their