1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Blackwell, Thomas

BLACKWELL, THOMAS (1701–1757), Scottish classical scholar, was born at Aberdeen on the 4th of August 1701. He took the degree of M.A. at the Marischal College in 1718. He was appointed professor of Greek in 1723, and was principal of the institution from 1748 until his death on the 8th of March 1757. In 1735 his first work, An Inquiry into the Life and Writings of Homer, was published anonymously. It was reprinted in 1736, and followed (in 1747) by Proofs of the Enquiry into Homer’s Life and Writings, a translation of the copious notes in foreign languages which had previously appeared. This work, intended to explain the causes of the superiority of Homer to all the poets who preceded or followed him, shows considerable research, and contains many curious and interesting details; but its want of method made Bentley say that, when he had gone through half of it, he had forgotten the beginning, and, when he had finished the reading of it, he had forgotten the whole. Blackwell’s next work (also published anonymously in 1748) was Letters Concerning Mythology. In 1752 he took the degree of doctor of laws, and in the following year published the first volume of Memoirs of the Court of Augustus; the second volume appeared in 1755, the third in 1764 (prepared for the press, after Blackwell’s death, by John Mills). This work shows considerable originality and erudition, but is even more unmethodical than his earlier writings and full of unnecessary digressions. Blackwell has been called the restorer of Greek literature in the north of Scotland; but his good qualities were somewhat spoiled by pomposity and affectation, which exposed him to ridicule.