A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Beattie, James

Beattie, James (1735-1803).—Poet and philosophical writer, s. of a shopkeeper and small farmer at Laurencekirk, Kincardineshire, and ed. at Aberdeen; he was, in 1760, appointed Professor of Moral Philosophy there. In the following year he pub. a vol. of poems, which attracted attention. The two works, however, which brought him most fame were: (1) his Essay on Truth (1770), intended as an answer to Hume, which had great immediate success, and led to an introduction to the King, a pension of £200, and the degree of LL.D. from Oxford; and (2) his poem of The Minstrel, of which the first book was pub. in 1771 and the second in 1774, and which constitutes his true title to remembrance. It contains much beautiful descriptive writing. The Essay on Truth and his other philosophical works are now forgotten. B. underwent much domestic sorrow in the death of his wife and two promising sons, which broke down his own health and spirits.