Veitch, William (1794-1885) (DNB00)

VEITCH, WILLIAM (1794–1885), classical scholar, son of a miller and farmer, was born at Spittal-on-Rule, parish of Bedrule, Roxburghshire, in 1794. Receiving his elementary education at Jedburgh, he studied for the church at Edinburgh University, where Edward Irving and Carlyle were among his contemporaries. He became a licentiate of the church of Scotland, and preached occasionally before the secession of 1843, afterwards devoting himself to research and tuition. His rare scholarship failed to secure for him the Edinburgh Greek chair in 1851, when John Stuart Blackie was preferred. He continued to read with advanced classical pupils, and to advise and assist scholarly writers. In 1866 he received the honorary degree of LL.D. from Edinburgh University. Fond of sport, and a skilled raconteur, he fascinated his guests, both in his Edinburgh quarters and in his holiday cottage at Langton, Teviotdale, with stories of the Perthshire moors and the Border streams. He died a bachelor in Edinburgh on 8 July 1885, and was buried in the Dean cemetery of the city. In 1880 his friends presented him with his portrait, painted by James Irvine. It is now in the National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh.

Veitch early edited Cicero's ‘De Natura Deorum,’ and in 1848 he issued his massive work, ‘Greek Verbs, Irregular and Defective,’ which straightway gained him a European reputation. New editions, attesting the author's successful persistence in wide and minute study, appeared in 1852, 1865, 1878, and 1887. He collaborated with Liddell and Scott in the later editions of their ‘Greek Lexicon,’ and he also helped in the elaboration of Smith's ‘Latin-English Dictionary.’ He edited the ‘Iliad’ in 1852 (2nd edit. 1863), and he prepared a new edition of Sir Daniel Keyte Sandford's ‘Extracts from Greek Authors,’ with notes and vocabulary. Various other standard works of reference and educational books profited by Veitch's scholarship. His reviews of classical and kindred works frequently graced the columns of the ‘Edinburgh Courant.’

[Scotsman 10 July 1885; Thomson's Day-Dreams of a Schoolmaster; Scottish Church Mag. November 1885; Chambers's Encyclopædia; Irving's Book of Eminent Scotsmen.]

T. B.