The interest of the Earl of Errol acquired for him the post of professor of moral philosophy and logic in the Marischal College of Aberdeen; in which capacity he published a work, entitled "An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth, in opposition to Sophistry and Scepticism," 1770. Being written in a popular manner, it was much read, and gained the author many admirers, especially among the most distinguished members of the Church of England; and, at the suggestion of Lord Mansfield, he was rewarded with a pension of 2001. from the King's privy purse.

In 1771 his fame was largely extended by the first part of his "Minstrel," a piece the subject of which is the imagined birth and education of a poet. Although the word Minstrel is not with much propriety applied to such a person as he represents, and the "Gothic days" in which he is placed are not historically to be recognised, yet there great beauty, both moral and descriptive, in the delineation, and perhaps no writer has managed the Spenserian stanza with more dexterity and harmony. The second part of this poem, which contains the maturer part of the education of the young bard, did not appear till 1774, and then left the work a fragment. But whatever may be the defects of the Minstrel, it possesses beauties which will secure it a place among the approved productions of the British muse.

Beattie visited London for the first time in 1771, where he was received with much cordiality by the admirers of his writings, who found equal cause to

love and esteem the author. Not long afterwards, the degree of LL. D. was conferred on him by his college at Aberdeen. In 1777 a new edition, by subscription, was published of his "Essay on Truth," to which were added three Essays on subjects of polite literature. In 1783 he published “Dissertations Moral and Critical," consisting of detached essays, which had formed part of a course of lectures delivered by the author as professor. His last work was "Evidences of the Christian Religion, briefly and plainly stated," 2 vols. 1786. His time was now much occupied with the duties of his station, and particularly with the education of his eldest son, a youth of uncommon promise. His death of a decline was a very severe trial of the father's fortitude and resignation; and it was followed some years after by that of his younger son. These afflictions, with other domestic misfortunes, entirely broke his spirits, and brought him to his grave at Aberdeen, in August, 1803, in the 68th year of his age.





The design was, to trace the progress of a poetical genius, born in a rude age, from the first dawning of fancy and reason, till that period at which he may be supposed capable of appearing in the world as a Minstrel, that is, as an itinerant poet and musician; -a character which, according to the notions of our forefathers, was not only respectable but sacred.

I have endeavoured to imitate Spenser in the measure of his verse, and in the harmony, simplicity, and variety of his composition. Antique expressions I have avoided; admitting, however, some old words, where they seemed to suit the subject but I hope none will be found that are now obsolete, or in any degree not intelligible to a reader of English poetry.

To those who may be disposed to ask, what could induce me to write in so difficult a measure, I can only answer, that it pleases my ear, and seems, from its Gothic structure and original, to bear some relation to the subject and spirit of the poem. It admits both simplicity and magnificence of sound and of language, beyond any other stanza that I am acquainted with. It allows the sententiousness of the couplet, as well as the more complex modulation of blank verse. What some critics have remarked, of its uniformity growing at last tiresome to the ear, will be found to hold true, only when the poetry is faulty in other respects.

Book I.

AH! who can tell how hard it is to climb

The steep where Fame's proud temple shines afar ;
Ah! who can tell how many a soul sublime
Has felt the influence of malignant star,
And waged with Fortune an eternal war;
Check'd by the scoff of Pride, by Envy's frown,
And Poverty's unconquerable bar,

In life's low vale remote has pined alone,

Then dropt into the grave, unpitied and unknown!

And yet the languor of inglorious days,

Not equally oppressive is to all;

Him, who ne'er listen'd to the voice of praise,
The silence of neglect can ne'er appal.

There are, who, deaf to mad Ambition's call, Would shrink to hear th' obstreperous trump of


Supremely blest, if to their portion fall

Health, competence, and peace. Nor higher aim Had he, whose simple tale these artless lines pro


The rolls of fame I will not now explore;
Nor need I here describe in learned lay,
How forth the Minstrel far'd in days of yore,
Right glad of heart, though homely in array;
His waving locks and beard all hoary grey :
While from his bending shoulder, decent hung
His harp, the sole companion of his way,
Which to the whistling wind responsive rung:
And ever as he went some merry lay he sung.

Fret not thyself, thou glittering child of pride,
That a poor villager inspires my strain;
With thee let Pageantry and Power abide :
The gentle Muses haunt the sylvan reign;
Where through wild groves at eve the lonely swain
Enraptured roams, to gaze on Nature's charms.
They hate the sensual, and scorn the vain,
The parasite their influence never warms,
Nor him whose sordid soul the love of gold alarms.

Though richest hues the peacock's plumes adorn,
Yet horrour screams from his discordant throat.
Rise, sons of harmony, and hail the morn,
While warbling larks on russet pinions float:
Or seek at noon the woodland scene remote,
Where the grey linnets carol from the hill.
O let them ne'er, with artificial note,

To please a tyrant, strain the little bill,

But sing what Heaven inspires, and wander where they will.

Liberal, not lavish, is kind Nature's hand;
Nor was perfection made for man below.
Yet all her schemes with nicest art are plann'd,
Good counteracting ill, and gladness woe.
With gold and gems if Chilian mountains glow;
If bleak and barren Scotia's hills arise;
There plague and poison, lust and rapine grow;
Here peaceful are the vales, and pure the skies,
And freedom fires the soul, and sparkles in the


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