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skiH as an artist, and represented Beattie surrounded by a group of allegorical figures, among whom the demon of falsehood is discovered as flying before the genius of truth. Perhaps the strongest argument that can be adduced for allowing the unrestrained publication of infidel works, may be derived from effects produced by the publication of Hume's Essays. How few have been really seduced from their dependance on the gospel by those cold and elaborate disquisitions! how many thousands have been confirmed in faith by the 'Evidences' of Paley, and the 'Essay on Truth' of Beattie, which would most probably never have been undertaken but for the publication of thera! Beattie has been accused of treating Hume with too much asperity in his writings, and of speaking of the propriety of excluding him from civil society. How far such an expulsion might have been deserved as an act of just-ice to a man, who, after declaring in one. of his Essays that the writer who ' disabused mankind of their reliance on a future state would deserve ill of his country/composed an elaborate essay against the immortality of the soul, and incurred the reproach which he had himself denounced, I will not take upon myself to decide; but to speak of a man thus acting against his principles, and condemned by his own sentence, without expressing the deepest indignation, argues an excess of complacency that must astonish the characteristic stoicism of philosophy herself. If Beattie has not spoken of the blasphemies of Hume with the gentleness that is thought decorous, it is to be regretted. It is desirable to gain so complete a mastery over every natural affection, as to be even able to discuss the calumnies that falsehood and malevolence may raise against one's parent or one's God, without being conscious of any warmer feeling than a desire of vindicating and asserting the truth-, but a? long as the human heart is actuated by the warm current of the blood, it will be impossible for any one of an ordinary temperament tb observe so frigid and unamiable a composure.
The * Essay on Truth* was in the same year followed by the first book of the * Minstrel/ This poem first appeared without the name of its author; but the 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 remark, that he meant the poem for description, not for incident. But he seems to have forgotten this proper a?pology, when he mentions, in one of his letters, his intention of producing Edwin in some subsequent books, in the character of a warlike bard, inspiring his countrymen to battle, and contributing to repel the 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 tranquil life, and a vehicle of contemplative morality, possesses a charmnfFar^s~inctJTrsislehr 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 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, a more important, or a more locally! denned being. It is the solitary growth of his genius, and his isolated and mystic abstraction from mankind, that 5x our attention Ojgl the romantic features of tjhat genius. The simplicity ofTitr'fat^''driesnot divert us from his mind to hi? 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, Dr. Aikin, has blamed Edwin's vision of the fairies as too splendid and artificial for a simple youth t but there is nothing in the situation ascribed to Edwin, as he lived in minstrel days, that necessarily excluded SMch 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 their dances, and even oe tapers, gold, and gems, from the ballads of his native country. In the second book of the poem, there are *some fine stanzas; but the author has taken Edwin "from the school of nature, and placed him in his own, ihat of moral philosophy, and hence a degree of languor is experienced by the reader.—The above remarks on the most celebrated of Dr. Beattie's works I have transcribed from the seventh volume of Campbell's British Poets. They convey the sentiments of one of the best poets of the present age, on one of the brightest ornaments of the last.
At the request of several of his friends, Dr. teattie was induced> in the year 1776, to prepare for the press a new edition of the * Essay on Truth/ to which he added several original Essays. This work was splendidly printed in quarto, and published by subscription entirely for his own benefit. The price was a guinea, and the list of subscribers, which amounted to four hundred and seventy-six, was enriched with the titles of many persons of the highest rank in the kingdom, and with the names of all the most distinguished literary characters of the time. The number of copies subscribed for amounted to seven hundred and thirty-two. The receipts must therefore have been considerable, and to Beattie a very beneficial supply, who was by no means in affluent circumstances, his pension being only two hundred a-year, and his professorship never being equal to that sum.
On his return to Scotland it was proposed that he should be removed to some situation in the University of Edinburgh; but he had then many personal enemies,—the zealous frier-ds of Hume, whom he was accused of having too severely treated in his writings; and he preferred the kindness of his old friends, and the quiet of Aberdeen, to a more lucrative and consoicuous appointment in the metropolitan university.— In the same generous disregard of temporalities he declined entering holy orders, and accepting a living in the church of England, which had been offered to him through Dr. Porteus, on the part of the Bishop of Winchester. He thought that by continuing a layman, and refusing the emoluments that might accrue to him from his writings in the cavise of religion, his arguments would have a more poweriul influence on the minds of his readers; than if he had become a clergyman, and thus, as it were, appeared as a retained advocate, rather than the voluntary assertor of the truth.
He again appeared before the public as an Author, in 1776, with a volume of * Essays/ which was followed by a second in 1783. Of these works Cowper has delivered an opinion, which, coming from so distinguished an author, it would be unpardonable to omit:—' Beattie is the most agreeable and amiable writer I ever met with •, the only author I have seen •whose critical and philosophical researches are diversified and embellished by a poetical imagination, that makes even the dryest subject, and the leanest, a feast for the epicure in books. He is so much at his ease too, that his own character appears in every page, and, which is very rare, we see not only the writer, but the man; and the man so gentle, so well-tempered, so happy in his religion, and so humane in his philosophy, that it is necessary to love him if one has any sense of what is lovely.'*
In 1786, he printed his ' Evidences of the Christian Religion/ and in 1790, and 1793, he completed his literary course by the publication of a work in two volumes, * On the Elements of Moral Science/ These contain in a connected and somewhat enlarged form, the abstract of the lectures which he used to dictate to his scholars.
Such is the literary history of this distinguished man. Successful in all that he undertook, and meriting his success by the diligence of his application, by the variety of his knowledge, and by the virtuous ends to which his talents were applied. From his earliest boyhood to the last stage of life he trod onward in a path of excellence, and of brightening celebrity. His learning obtained for him the respect and admiration of his country, and the invaluable qualities of his heart and temper conciliated the most ardent friendship and affection from those by whom it is a distinction to be known, and an honour to be loved. But though renowned, admired, and loved, his life was the re* Hayley's Life of Cowper, vol. iii. p. 247.
verse of happy. His sorrows, at the conclusion of his existence, were heavily accumulated upon him; and they struck the heart where it was most keenly and most painfully sensitive. His wife, with whom he had lived long and happily, became deranged, and was obliged to be removed from the house of her husband. His eldest son, a youth of the highest promise, and to whom his father was attached with more than a father's love, for he was joined with him in the professorship, and they had become friends and fellowstudents, and the associates of each other's labours, died, after a short illness, in the twenty-second year of his age. The unhappy Beattie had scarcely began to revive from the shock of this severe affliction, when the peace of his home was again mournfully interrupted. His sole surviving child, at the age of eighteen, when beginning to shew the indications of talent and of virtue, not inferior to those which had so tenderly endeared his elder brother to the affection of his father, was suddenly cut off. This misfortune seems to have crushed the spirits, and for a time, to have alienated the mind of Beattie. He no longer mingled in the intercourse of society. He gave up all his literary correspondence. He said that * he had done with this world/ and he acted as if he felt that there was no longer any thing on earth worth living for to him: all the links which bound him to the enjoyments or the business of this world were snapt, never again to be united. He performed mechanically the duties of his professorship; but he intermitted all the studies in which he had previously occupied himself. Sometimes, indeed, he appeared to struggle for fertitude; and strove to console the agony of his afflictions by the recollection of the severer fate from which his children had been delivered. As he thought on the hereditary disease by which their mother was afflicted, he would endeavour to tranquillize his mind by reflecting on the grievous intellectual malady from which death had saved them ; and exclaim ' How could I have borne to see those elegant minds mangled with madness.' Beattie was struck with palsy in 1799, and after repeated attacks of the same disease, died in 1803.