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petitors, such a distinction might be cheaply acquired: but it is also told, that, when a youth, he used to get out of bed, and walk about his chamber, to meditate and to compose in the dead of night. These things are more easily affirmed than believed.
In the year 1749, he commenced his acade. mical course, and attended the Greek class in Marischal College, Aberdeen, at that time taught by Dr. Blackwell, well known by his 66 Memoirs of the Court of Augustus," and other productions upon classical subjects. The scholar became attached to his preceptor; and the preceptor had sagacity to discover the talents of his scholar. He was the first that awoke, in the mind of Beattie, the consciousness of his own genius. He was early distinguished by him as superior to all his class-fellows; and at the close of the session 1749-50, he received from him a book, elegantly bound, with the following inscription on it: Iacobo Beattie, in prima classe, ex comitatu Mernensi, post examen publicum librum hunc aposavosti, pre. mium dedit T. Blackwell, Aprilis 30. MDCCL.
As the finances of young Beattie were, of course, but limited, he became a candidate for one of the bursaries, which are annually bestowed on such of the students as are unable to bear the usual expenses attendant on a uni- . versity education. These bursaries are small annual stipends, to which, however, according to Sir W. Forbes, no opprobrious distinction, no menial office, nor any degrading servitude, are annexed. On the contrary, it is a proof of superior merit; “ for, instead of being à sinecure to which the student is presented without trial, it i the reward of learning, after a competition among those who are the candi. dates, and of whose literary merits the profese sors of the university are the judges.'
Dr. Beattie continued his attendance at the university of Aberdeen during four years, and at the same time directed his attention towards philosophy and theology. That he was a dili. gent student, appears from some papers found after his decease, which evince the assiduity and labour that he thought necessary for a suca cessful application to literature; and some o his notes on the classical authors display cor siderable critical acumen. (See Life by S W. Forbes, vol. i. p. 21. 8vo. edit.)
Beattie, while a student in divinity, seems to have incurred the same charge as Thomson did, that his language was too poetical.
When he had finished his academical stu. dies, he obtained, in April, 1753, the appointment of schoolmaster of the parish of Fordoun, a small hamlet, about six miles distant from Lawrencekirk. Here he also filled the office of precentor, or parish clerk.
Thus doomed to obscurity and insignificance, we contrast the celebrity of his after-life, and wish, in vain, for information that might display, minutely, the progress of his elevation. Few men have risen to distinction with greater
obstacles of birth, fortune, and station, to 1. overcome. The proudest hopes might have
drooped under such circumstances. Literature had not shed that lustre upon Scotland, in the early part of the last century, which it does now: and the facilities of intercourse with the southern part of the kingdom were less. A young man doomed to the same privacy in a village of England, might, feeling his own powers, cherish the expectations of fame by his vicinity to the metropolis, where the means are copious, and the reward, finally, bestowed. He is nearer to the common centre of exertion, patronage, and remuneration; and the opportunities of success are numerous, easy, and, sometimes, certain. But, to be banished to an obscure hamlet in a remote part of Scotland; exercising the humble functions of a village schoolmaster and a parish clerk; cut off from the power of disclosing the qualities of his mind to those who could appreciate or befriend them; and without the resources of literature; seem such a concurrence of impedio men's, that our wonder may justly be excited, when we see them vanquished, and the individual rising to unusual popularity and deserved eminence. - It may be conjectured, that while in this situation he passed much of his time in solitude. Except the parish minister, it is highly probable that he had no other companions but such as the labouring peasantry could supply. How such a mind as Beattie's would, therefore, employ itself, may be easily imagined. Surrounded by majestic scenery, the towering hill, the silent valley, the stream, the waterfall, and the restless illimitable ocean in the distant landscape, fancy had free range, and his thoughts dwelt upon objects that were con-genial to them. Relieved from the toil of instruction, with what ardour must he have sought nature and solitude, there to commune with his own feclings, there to cherish those
tender musings which afterwards delighted the world in his Minstrel, and there, perhaps, to anticipate, in bitterness of spirit, the inglorious retreat which might be his lot. Wan. dering amid these varied beauties of scenery, he composed some of his earliest pieces, and as he looked abroad upon the creation, not seeing it through books, he transfused into his juve. nile compositions those simple characters of truth and reality which at once command applause and excite pleasure.
The following starza, from the second book of the Minstrel, is said to be an accurate delineation of the rustic churchyard of Law. rencekirk.
Let vanity adorn the marble tomb,
Fast by a brook or fountain's murm'ring wave,
One of his greatest delights, we are told by Sir William Forbes was, to saunter, through the whole night, in the fields, and to watch for, and contemplate, the dawn of day.