Logan, James (1794?-1872) (DNB00)


LOGAN, JAMES (1794?–1872), author of the ‘Scottish Gael,’ was born in Aberdeen about 1794, his father being a substantial merchant. He was educated at the grammar school and Marischal College, Aberdeen. He intended to become a lawyer, but a fracture of the skull, accidentally incurred while taking part in athletic sports, ruined his plans, and he took to drawing as a pastime. His friends urged him to persevere as an artist; he settled in London under the patronage of Lord Aberdeen, and studied in connection with the Royal Academy. Subsequently he became a journalist, and to help expenses acted for a time as clerk in an architect's office. Suddenly, however, about 1826, he started on a pedestrian tour over Scotland, gathering materials on Gaelic antiquities from the North Sea to the Atlantic. Returning to London he supported himself by periodical writing while he composed his ‘Scottish Gael, or Celtic Manners as preserved among the Highlanders,’ which was published in 1831 in 2 vols., with a dedication to William IV and illustrations by the author. He received one hundred guineas for the copyright, and the book, which was very favourably reviewed, sold well at thirty shillings—not, as Dr. Stewart states in his ‘Memoir,’ at fourteen guineas a copy.

Logan afterwards contributed to the ‘Gentleman's Magazine,’ in which he ably sustained a controversy with the Welsh scholar Dr. Davies on the respective merits of the Cymric and Gaelic branches of Celtic speech. This enhanced his reputation among scholars, bringing him a eulogistic letter from Lamartine and the offer of the secretaryship of the Highland Society of London, which he accepted and held for two or three years. Resigning this post, in accordance with his characteristic impatience of restraint, he trusted again for a living to miscellaneous literary work, contributing largely at the same time to the ‘Transactions’ of the Gaelic Society of London. He was generously patronised by the prince consort, who was interested in his special studies, and at length enabled him to become a brother of the Charterhouse, London. But Logan's restless and critical spirit led to his expulsion in 1866. Various members of the Highland and Celtic Societies befriended him, and his last years were comfortable and ostensibly independent. Logan died in London in April 1872. The ‘Scottish Gael’ is scholarly, full, and vigorous; and, as edited by Dr. Alexander Stewart in 1876, with memoir and valuable notes, forms the standard authority on the characteristics, history, and literature of the Celt in Scotland. Logan also wrote the introduction to Mackenzie's ‘Sar-obair nam Bard Gaelach,’ or ‘Beauties of Gaelic Poetry’ (2 vols. 1841, new edit. 1877), and supplied adequate letterpress to MacIan's ‘Clans of the Scottish Highlands,’ an illustrated work on ‘Highland Costumes,’ 2 vols. fol. 1843–9; new edit. 1857.

[Dr. Stewart's Memoir in the Scottish Gael, 1876 ed.]

T. B.