Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 04.djvu/26

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Beattie
Beattie
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the decisions on them are likewise given with a statement of the elective authority, and of the nature of the electoral franchise in each constituency. Beatson was also the author of a pamphlet on the indecisive engagement fought off Ushant by the fleets under Admiral Keppel and Count d'Orvilliers—'A New and Distinct View of the memorable Action of the 27th July 1778, in which the Aspersions cast on the Flag Officers are shown to be totally unfounded.' He died at Edinburgh on 24 Jan. 1818. One obituary notice describes him as late barrack-master at Aberdeen.' It is uncertain whether Edinburgh or Aberdeen university conferred on him his degree of LL.D.

[Beatson's writings; Gent. Mag. for April 1818; Annual Biography and Obituary for 1819; Biographical Dictionary of the Living Authors of Great Britain and Ireland, 1816.]

F. E.

BEATTIE, GEORGE (1786–1823), Scotch poet, was the eldest son of a crofter and salmon fisher at Whitehills, near St. Cyrus, Kincardineshire, where he was born in 1786. He received a good education at the parish school. During his boyhood he was notorious for his frolics and love of practical jokes. It is also related of him that on Saturday afternoons it was his delight to wander among the 'braes' of St. Cyrus, and that he used to 'visit the auld kirkyard with a kind of melancholy pleasure.' When the boy was about thirteen years of age, his father obtained a situation on the excise at Montrose, and 'young George,' it is said, walked all the way to his new home 'with a tame kae (jackdaw) on his shoulder.' After an ineffectual attempt to become a mechanic he obtained a clerkship in Aberdeen, but six weeks later his employer died, bequeathing him a legacy of 50l. Returning to Montrose, Beattie entered the office of the procurator-fiscal, and on the completion of his legal education in Edinburgh he established himself in Montrose as a writer or attorney. His remarkable conversational gifts, especially as a humourist, rendered him a general favourite among his companions, and, being combined with good business talents, contributed to his speedy success in his profession. In 1815 he contributed to the 'Montrose Review' a poem, 'John o' Arnha,' which he afterwards elaborated with much care, and published in a separate form, when its rollicking humour and vivid descriptions soon secured it a wide popularity. Its incidents bear some resemblance to those of 'Tam o' Shanter,' of which it may be called a pale reflex. In 1818 he published in the 'Review' a poem in the old Scotch dialect, written when he was a mere boy, and entitled the 'Murderit Mynstrell.' The poem, which is in a totally different vein from 'John o' Arnha,' is characterised throughout by a charming simplicity, a chastened tenderness of sentiment, and a delicacy of delineation which are sometimes regarded as the special attributes of the earlier English poets. In 1819 he published also in the 'Review' the 'Bark,' and in 1820 a wild and eerie rhapsody, entitled the 'Dream.' He also wrote several smaller lyrics. In 1821 Beattie made the acquaintance of a young lady with whom he contracted a marriage engagement. Before, however, the marriage was completed, the lady fell heir to a small fortune, and rejected Beattie for a suitor who occupied a better rank in life. Deeply wounded by the disappointment, Beattie from that time meditated self-destruction. After completing a narrative of his relations with the lady, contained in a history of his life from 1821 to 1823, he provided himself with a pistol, and, going to St. Cyrus, shot himself by the side of his sister's grave 29 Sept. 1823. Since his death his poems have gone through several editions, and a collection of them, accompanied with a memoir, has been published under the title 'George Beattie, Montrose, a poet, a humourist, and a man of genius,' by A. S. Mt Cyrus, M.A.

[Memoir mentioned above.]

T. F. H.

BEATTIE, JAMES (1735–1803), poet, essayist, and moral philosopher, was born at Laurencekirk, Kincardine, Scotland, on 25 Oct. 1735. His father, a shopkeeper and small farmer, dying in 1742, the boy was supported by his eldest brother, David, who sent him in 1749 to the Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he soon obtained a bursary. At Aberdeen he studied Greek under Thomas Blackwell, author of 'An Inquiry into the Life and Writings of Homer,' but showed no aptitude for mathematics. In 1753, having taken the degree of M.A., and being anxious to obtain immediate employment in order to relieve his brother from further expense, he accepted the post of schoolmaster and parish clerk to the parish of Fardoun, near Laurencekirk. Here he made the acquaintance of Lord Gardenstown and Lord Monboddo, and began to come into notice by his contributions to the 'Scots Magazine.' He had always been fond of music, and now cultivated it zealously in his retirement. We are assured by his biographers that, in his admiration for the romantic scenery, he would often stay whole nights under the open sky, returning home at sunrise. The impressions gained during his residence at Faraoun are apparent in the descriptive passages of his