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course of lectures for the students; and gradually compiled materials for those prose works, on which his name would rest with considerable reputation, if he were not known as a poet. It is true, that he is not a first-rate metaphysician; and the Scotch, in undervaluing his powers of abstract and close rea, soning, have been disposed to give him less credit than he deserves, as an elegant and amusing writer. But the English, who must be best able to judge of his style, admire it for an ease, familiarity, and an Anglicism, that is not to be found even in the correct and polished diction of Blair. His mode of illustrating abstract questions is fanciful and interesting. - In 1765, he published a poem, entitled “ The Judgment of Paris,” which his biographer, Sir William Forbes, did not think fit to rank among his works'. For more obvious reasons Sir William excluded his lines, written in the subsequent year, on the proposal for erecting a monument to Churchill in Westminster Abbeylines which have no beauty or dignity to redeem their bitter expression of hatred. On particular subjects, Beattie's virtuous indignation was apt to be hysterical. Dr. Reid and Dr. Campbell hated the principles of David Hume as sincerely as the author of the Essay on Truth; but they never betrayed more than
" It is to be found in the Scottish Magazine; and, if I may judge from an obscure recollection of it, is at least as well worthy of revival as some of his minor pieces.
philosophical hostility, while Beattie used to speak of the propriety of excluding Hume from civil society.
His reception of Gray, when that poet visited Scotland in 1765, shews the enthuşiasm of his literary character in a finer light. Gray's mind was not in poetry only, but in many other respects, peculiarly congenial with his own; and nothing could exceed the cordial and reverential welcome which Beattie gave to his illustrious visitant. In 1770, he published his “ Essay on Truth,” which had a rapid sale, and extensive popularity; and, within a twelvemonth after, the first part of his “ Minstrel.” The poem appeared, at first, anonymously, but its beauties were immediately and justly appreciated. The second part was not published till 1774. When Gray criticised the Minstrel, he objected to its author, that, after many stanzas, the description went on, and the narrative stopped. Beattie very justly answered to this criticism, that he meant the poem for description, not for incident. But he seems to have forgotten this proper apology, when he mentions, in one of his letters, his intention of producing Edwin, in some subsequent books, in the character of a warlike bard, inspiriny his countrymen to battle, and contributing to repel their invaders. This intention, if he ever seriously entertained it, might have produced some new kind of poem, but would have formed an incongruous counterpart to the piece as it now stands, which, as a picture of still life, and a vehicle of contemplative morality, has a charm that is inconsistent with the bold evolutions of heroic narrative. After having pourtrayed his young enthusiast with such advantage in a state of visionary quiet, it would have been too violent a transition to have begun in a new book to surround him with dates of time and names of places. The interest which we attach to Edwin's character, would have been lost in a more ambitious effort, to make him a greater or more important, or a more locally defined being. It is the solitary growth of his genius, and his isolated and mystic abstraction from mankind, that fix our attention on the romantic features of that genius. The simplicity of his fate does not divert us from his mind to his circumstances. A more unworldly air is given to his character, that instead of being tacked to the fate of kings, he was one “ Who envied not, who never thought of kings;" and that, instead of mingling with the troubles which deface the creation, he only existed to make his thoughts the mirror of its beauty and magnificence. Another English critic' has blamed Edwin's vision of the fairies as too splendid and artificial for a simple youth ; but there is nothing in the situation ascribed to Edwin, as he lived in minstrel days, that necessarily excluded such materials from his fancy. Had he beheld steam-engines or dock-yards in his sleep, the vision might have been pronounced to be ..too artificial; but he might have heard of fairies and
man that off school of stanzas;
their dances, and even of tapers, gold, and gems, from the ballads of his native country. In the second book of the poem there are some fine stanzas; but he has taken Edwin out of the school of nature, and placed him in his own, that of moral philosophy, and hence a degree of languor is experienced by the reader.
Soon after the publication of the “ Essay on Truth," and of the first part of the “ Minstrel,” he paid his first visit to London. His reception, in the highest literary and polite circles, was distinguished and flattering. The university of Oxford conferred on him the degree of doctor of laws, and the Sovereign himself, besides honouring him with a personal conference, bestowed on him a pension of £200 a year.
On his return to Scotland, there was a proposal for transferring him to the university of Edinburgh, which he expressed his wish to decline, from a fear of those personal enemies whom he had excited by his Essay on Truth. This motive, if it was his real one, must have been connected with that weakness and irritability on polemical subjects which have been already alluded to. His metaphysical fame perhaps stood higher in Aberdeen than in Edinburgh; bút to have dreaded personal hostility in the capital of a religious country, amidst thousands of individuals as pious as himself, was a weakness unbecoming the professed champion of truth. For reasons of delicacy, more creditable to his memory, he de
clined a living in the church of England, which was offered to him by his friend Dr. Porteus.
After this, there is not much incident in his life. He published a volume of his Essays in 1776, and another in 1783 ; and the outline of his academical lectures in 1790. In the same year, he edited, at Eảinburgh, Addison's papers in the Spectator, and wrote a preface for the edition. He was very unfortunate in his family. The mental disorder of his wife, for a long time before it assumed the shape of decided derangement, broke out in caprices of temper, which disturbed his domestic peace, and almost precluded him from having visitors in his family. The loss of his son, James Hay Beattie, a young man of highly promising talents, who had been conjoined with him in his professorship, was the greatest, though not the last calamity of his life. He made an attempt to revive his spirits after that melancholy event, by another journey to England, and some of his letters from thence bespeak a temporary composure and cheerfulness; but the wound was never healed. Even music, of which he had always been fond, ceased to be agreeable to him, from the lively recollections which it excited of the hours which he had been accustomed to spend in that recreation with his favourite boy. He published the poems of this youth, with a partial eulogy upon his genius, such as might be well excused from a father so situated. At the end of six years mbre, his other son, Montague Beattie, was also cut off in