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night, to supper with the Duchess du- question, which you, in your anxiety ring her stay at one time in Aberdeen. for the honour of Dr Beattie as a In that feast of the mind all the wise 'great and good mail, proposed to me, and good who knew of it rejoiced In return, I have to beg of you as by sympathy ; but the vain and fool. a favour, that you will make these ish envied the parties, and raised the observations as public as you can, absurd tale. Dr Beattie was admi. that some reparation may be made red, esteemed, and beloved, wyall good to the injured character of two einipersons who really knew him ; but, as
nent persons, who have deserved well usually happens in such cases, he was of all they could, and ill of none. envied and hated by a party. The
I am, dear Sir, honest and respectable labours of Sir
Respectfully yours, William Forbes have fixed his fame
WILLIAM LAING M. D. on an immovable basis. The Duchess
Minister of St Peter's Chapel, Peterhead, of Gordon, also, though admired for her wit and beauty, esteemed for a The publication of this attack oa character appropriate to her high Dr Beattie's name appears to indicate rank, and blessed for her benignity, an equal degree of malevolence and yet has not escaped the tongue of mental imbecility. malice. Our sex naturally regarded That unfounded scandal should her with veneration and affection, as be regarded as complete evidence did the honest and candid of the 'o. of demerit in a person of ihe highest ther. Many of her own sex, however, literary eminence, and of a character could not forgive her for so far out. till now unimpeached, is an outrage shining themselves. But if such dis
upon justice too gross to be endured. appointed females found any con- If such were universally to be received solation for their inferioricy in low as the criterion by which talents and slanders, it ill becomes grave
virtues were to be estimated, the - viewers, who profess to point out most illustrious and exalted of our and patronise truth, to endeavour to species might be embalmed in infamy. give currency and permanency to base li betrays a credulity unusually suscepfalsehoods. I have thought it in.' tible, when a man takes the splenetic cumbent upon me, therefore, who effusions of tea-table envy as the have been honoured with the friend. guide of his opinion : and I see little ship both of Dr Beattie and of the to admire in the sagacity, and less to Duchess of Gordon, to bear testimony approve in the morality, which canto the truth in the above respects, not, or will not, discriminate between from my own knowledge, so that no the servility of a sycophant and the person may persist in propagating affectionate' kindness of friendship. ihese false and foolish stories through And what, let me ask the reviewer, ignorance. Those who have been was the nature of the friendship misled merely by popular reports, if which subsisted between Dr Beattie they know me, will probably alter and the Duchess of Gordon? I produce their sentiments : and if those who to the world, the testimony ofonewhom speak evil of these exalted charac. nobody will venture to contradict, that ters, through malignity, do not cease it was such an intercourse as their practices, I ought not to be equally honourable to the Lady of disappointed ; nor shall I trouble rank and to the Man of letters.; them or myself any more, even though that it was the reciprocal interthey should honour me also with a change of esteem and kindness, which share of their contempt and abuse. takes place between congenial minds And now, Şir, I have answered the when they meet in Society ;-that
it was a voluntary offering of applause vourable prepossessiops than we have to genius and to worth, on the one
done in the case of the present meside ; and on the other, the grateful moir. The subject of it had become but independent homage of a gen- the object of a peculiar interest, both tleman and a scholar to the brightest by the merit of his writings, by the qualities that adorn the female cha- beneficence of their tendency, and the racter. If in this there be any thing amiable feelings which they , ex which could for a moment afford pressed. In regard to the author, room for misconception, it must be whose singular worth bas been so the circumstance that the Lady was long known to the inhabitants of in an elevated rank: but although this city, it was agreeable to disco. I do not think the possession of such ver, both the respect he entertained accidental greatness deserved, for the memory of his departed friend, would have obtained the veneration and that a life of useful industry and of a mind like Dr Beattie's, I do not active benevolence were in him digni. see why it should deprive a titled fied and adorned by the pursuit of personage of the most precious letters and philosophy. and the proudest enjoyments of life. Considering the character of the Perhaps, indeed, Dr Beattie may writer as a man of business, and of have mistaken the character of the the world, it cannot be supposed that Duchers of Gordon : but I should his composition should be polished consider the man who had the most and adorned like that of a professed enviable opportunities of knowing it anthor. But he every where disto be fully as well qualified to form plays good sense, a careful attention an accurate estimate of its nature to matters of fact, and a sincere at. as the good citizens of Aberdeen, tachment to the friend whose history and their humble echo,---a writer in he records ; nor where the subject the Literary Journal.
requires it, is his style deficient in Of all the crimes which the laws energy and animation. And we may do not punish, there is none more a- easily forgive a slight tincture of not trocious than that which robs depart. unamiable vanity, which prompts
him ed genius of its honour,--the antici- studiously to record the names of pated treasure which, in moments persons distinguished by genius and of depression, is its dearest consola. virtue with whom he enjoyed the intion, and, too often, its only reward. tercourse of private friendship. To vilify the memory of him whose The greater part of these volumes lips are sealed in eternal silence, to is occupied with the letters of Dr pour dishonour on the tomb, is in. Beattie. The worthy Baronet, fol. deed a mixture of cowardice and of lowing the example of Mason in his wickedness for which language wants
life of Gray, after giving an account an appropriate epithet.
of Dr Beattie's early life, has done Edinburgh. ?
little more tban connect these letters
A. P. 7th Oct. 1806.
by his narrative. We have perused
them with a degree of pleasure which SCOTTISH REVIEW,
we have not always derived from the
correspondence of literary men. Many, 1. The Life of Janies Beattie, L. I.. De especially of the last age, have distin
late Professor of Moral Philoso- guished themselves by an affectation phy in the University of Aberdeen. Of smartness, and of saying everything By Sir William Forbes Bart. 2 vols. in a flippant, half.witty style, of little 410.21. 123. 6d, Constable & Co.
value, even where it appears in per. WE do not remember to have fection (as
it does in the writings of opened any work with more fa. Lady Mary Montague) but which is
extremely aukward in the mouth of to the humble office of schoolmaster a recluse scholar. Such appears to of Fordoun, a small village about us to be the fault of those of Pope six miles from Lawrencekirk. Here and most of his contemporaries; nor he continued four years, which, the are Gray's altogether free from the duties of his office excepted, were same blemish. Beattie indeed, where spent in solitude and meditation. Our he attempts wit, either in prose or author has given a very interesting poetry, always fails ; but the attempt account of what may be called the is rare, and his letters are more fre- poesical education of the future bard, quently expressive only of unaffected which we cannot forbear extrac, good sense and natural feeling. Good' ting. sense indeed appears to us to be more
In this obscure situation he must have characteristic of Dr Beattie's under. passed many of his hours in solitude ; standing than any extensive philoso- for, except that of Mr Forbes, the parish phical talents, so that we are dispo- minister, who shewed him great kindsed to prefer bis letters, where it only ness, and in whose family, he frequently is required, to most of his other prose visited, he had scarcely any other sócomposicions
ciety than that of the neighbouring peaDr Beattie was born at Lawrence şantry, from whçse cillversation he kirk in Kincardineshire, then divery information. But he had a never-fail
, and no small village, though since, chiefly we * ing resource in his own mind, 'in those believe through the exertions of Lord meditations which he loved to findulge, Gardenstonerit has become a place amidst the beautiful and sublime scenery of considerable importance. His fas of that neighbourhood, which furnished ther was sa small farmer, of very're him with endless amusement. speerable character. At an early age sidence, a deep and extensive glen, fine
small distance from the place of his rehe was sent to the parish school, and ly cloutned with woud, runs up into the began to display his poetical genius. mountains. Thither he frequently reIt is said to have been first roused paired, and there several of his earliest by Ogilvy's translation of Virgil. pieces were written. From that wild Among his school tellows he went and romaniic spot lie drew, as from the by the name of the Poet, and used; · life, some of the finest descriptions, and often, in the night-time, to get out
most beautiful pictures of nature, in his of bed, and walk about his chamber, heard to say, for instance, that the de
poetical compositions. He has been in order to write down any poetical scription of the owl, in his charming thought that had struck his fancy.
“ Retirement," In the year 1749, he went tu the
“ Whence the scar'd owl, on pinions university of Aberdeen, and gained
grey, one of those bursaries which are be
“ Break's from the rustling boughs, SLO?? by a trial of merit. Here he
*** And down the lone vale sails away was particularly noticed by Dr Black. “ To more profound repose." well, Professor of Greek, and author
was drawn after real nature. And the of several learned publications, who seventeenth stanza of the second book made bim a present of a book, with of “ the Minstrel," in which he so feel. an inscription importing that he con- ingly describes the spot of which he sidered him as the best of his scholars, most approved, for his place of sepulture, He attended also the divinity lectures, is so very exact a picture of the situawhen it was observed of his discour- tion of the churchyard of Lawrencekirk, sés, as it had been of Thomson's, and in which is the school house where
which stands near to his mother's house, that he spoke poetry in prose.
daily taught, that he must cer. On finishing his course of study tainly have had it in his view at the time at the university, he was appointed he wrote the following beautiful lines, Oct, 1806.
“ Let vanity adorn the marbie tomb be forgiven for having dwelt on them With trophies, rhymes, and scut- so long cheons of renown,
His first patron was the late Lord “ In the deep dungeon of some Go. Gardenstown, who being at that time thic dome,
sheriff of the county of Kincardine, re5 Where night and desolation ever sided occasionally at Woodstock, a frown.
house in the neighbourhood of Fordoun. “ Mine be the breezy hill that skirts To Mr Garden, Beattie became accidenthe down,
tally known, by his having found him one “Where a green grassy turf is all I day in his favourite glen, emp!oyed in crave,
writing with a pencil. On enquiring “ With here and there a violet be. what he was about, and finding that he strown,
was employed in the composition of a “ Fast by a brook or fountain's mur- poem, Mr Garden's curiosity was at. muring wave;
tracted, and from that period he took And many an evening sun shine sweet. the young bard under his protection. ly on my grave.
Dr Beatrie has been frequently heard It was his supreme delight to saunter to mention an anecdote which took in the fields the live-long night, contem- place in the early part of his acquaintplating the sky, and marking the ap- ance with that gentleman. Mr Garden, proach of day; and he used to describe having seen some of his pieces in mawith peculiar animation the pleasure nuscript, and entertaining some doubt he received from the soaring of the lark of their being entirely of his own comin a summer morning, A beautiful position, in order to satisfy himself of the landscape, which he has magnificently abilities of the young poet, asked him, described in the twentieth stanza of the with politeness, to translate the invoca. first book of “the Minstrel,” corres- tion to Venus from the first book of ponds exactly with what must have Lucretius. In compliance with this re. presented itself to his poetical imagina. quest, Beattie retired into the adjoining aion, on those occasions, at the approach wood, and in no long time produced of the rising sun, as he would view the the translation, bearing all the marks of grandeur of that scene from the hill in original composition, for it was much the neighbourhood of his native village. blotted with alterations and corrections. The high hill which rises to the west of It was printed in the first collection of Fordoun would, in a misty morning, sup.
Dr Beattie's poems in the year 17602 ply him with one of the images so beau.
but omitted in all the subsequent edi. tifully described in the twenty-first tions. stanza. And the twentieth stanza of He also became known at this time the.second book of “the Minstrel” de.
to Lord Monboddo (whose family seat scribes a night - scene unquestionably is in the parish of Fordoun,) with whom drawn from nature, in which he probab- he always maintained a friendly interly had in view Homer's sublime descrip: course, although they essentially difiered ţion of the moon, in the eighth book of in some very material points, as must be the Iliad, so admirably translated by
very apparent to those who are converPope, that an eminent critic has not
sant with their writings. sccupled to declare it to be superior 10
This solitary and rural situation, the original *. He used, himself, to tell, that it was from the top of a high hill in
in which he was placed during the the neighbourhood that he first beheld most susceptible period of life, doubt. the ocean, the sight of which, he decla. less tended to strengthen that penred, made the most lively impression on sive cast, that devotion to the beau. his mind.
ties of nature, and that tender meIt is pleasing, I think, to contemplate lancholy by which his genius was these bis early habits, so congenial to the
characterised. feelings of a poetical and warm ima. gination ; and, therefore, I trust I shall
In 1758 Beattie became usher to
the grammar school of Aberdeen ; * Melmoth's Letters of Sir Thomas and however small. the promotion Fitzosborn, letter xx. p. 85.
may appear, it was yet attended
with great and lasting advantages. part in it were digested into the form He had now access to books and of an essay, which was ingrossed in the literary society, and met with op
album of the society. portunities of making friends, who Dr Beattie had not hitherto pub. were soon serviceable to him beyond lished aný poems, except one or two his warmest expectations. On the which appeared in the Scots magadeath of Dr Duncan, professor of zine ; but about this time he publishNatural Philosophy, Beattie, to his ed a small volume, which, besides own infinite surprise, was, through those usually appended to the Minthe interest of Mr Arburhnot, late strel, contained a Translation of the secretary to the Board of Trustees, ten pastorals of Virgil, and one or two. appointed to succeed him; and he from Horace and Anacreon. It
COBsoon after obtained, in the chair of tained also the Ode to Peace, and the Moral Philosophy, a situation more Triumph of Melancholy, which have suited to his genius and inclination. been omitted in some later editions. To the duties of this important of. This omission Sir William justly confice he proceeded from that time te
siders as unmerited, and, that they apply himself in a manner the most may not be lost altogether, has placed conscientious and indefatigable.
in the appendix. For our part, we Soon after this, Dr Beattie be. cannot help thinking this rather a came member of a philosophical so strange place, and would have prefer. ciety, celebrated by the number of ed seeing them, along with the other great men whom it counted among poems in the projected general edition its members. Besides Beattie,
of our author's works. Dr Beattie's contained Reid, Gregory,' and Ge- judgement, in estimating his own proyard; men who, with genius and phi duetions, has not been very conspicu. losophy, united a sacred regard to ous; for, while he rejected these, he has truth, and to every thing connected retained a fable, entitled The Hares', with the best interests of the species. which possesses very little merit.We extract the following short ac
This is probably owing not so much count of the mode of conducting it.
to its being a fable, as to its being a The members met at five o'clock in
humourous fable; for tho' Dr B. the evening (for in those days at Aber.
to have .aken great delight in writing deen, it was the custom to dine early,)
humorous poetry, it was
a talent when one of the members, as presi- which nature had completely denied dent, took the chair, and left it at half him. Sir William proposes therefore an hour after eight, when they partook to reject it in the edition of his works; of a slight and unexpensive collation, a step with regard to the propriety and at ten o'clock they separated *. of which we are rather doubtful; for
At these meetings, a part of the evening's entertainment was the reading a
the collection of an author's works short essay, composed by one of the ought probably to contain all those members in his turn. Besides those which he acknowledged, and not a more formal compositions, thus read mere selection. We are left in the as discourses, a literary or philosophical dark as to the fate of the translations question was proposed each night, for from Virgil: though from a criticism, the subject of conversation at the sub. fuil of taste and discrimination, writ. sequent meetings. And it was the du
ten by Lord Woodhouselee, they apty of the proposer of the questiori to Open the discussion : by him also the o.
pear to be possessed of considerable pinions of the members who took a
These poems were favourably re: * Rules of the Philosophical Society ceived, and procured Dr Beattie a of Aberdeen, MS.
considerable degree of reputation. A