A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen/Alves, Robert
ALVES, Robert, a poet and miscellaneous writer, born at Elgin, in 1745, took his degrees in philosophy at Aberdeen, where he enjoyed the friendship of Dr Beattie, and afterwards, though designed for the church, settled as parish schoolmaster of Deskford. From this place he removed, in 1773, to Banff, whence he migrated in 1779, to Edinburgh, on account of a disappointment in love. In Edinburgh he subsisted by teaching such private persons as chose to employ him, in the Greek, Roman, French, and Italian classics; like a true poet, he was not greatly solicitous about the means of subsistence. Mr Creech, in 1782, published a volume of miscellaneous poems by Alves; in 1789, appeared another, under the title of "Edinburgh, a Poem, in two parts, and the Weeping Bard, in sixteen cantos." In 1784, Alves commenced a laborious work entitled, "Sketches of a History of Literature," which was in the press when he died, January 1st, 1794, and was afterwards published by Dr Alexander Chapman, at whose press it was printed for the intended benefit of the author. This work contains lives and characters of the most eminent writers in different languages, ancient and modern, with critical remarks on their works, together with several literary essays; though miserably inaccurate in every particular, it shows an extensive acquaintance with ancient and modern learning. After his death was published, in 1801, "the Banks of Esk," and other poems, a small 12mo. vol. In a vigorously written preface he repels the aspersions and ridicule cast upon Scotland and Scotsmen, by many English literary men of the period, especially Churchill, Wilks, Junius, and Johnson; and in the introductory canto to "the Banks of Esk," he retaliates on them with great cleverness and vivacity.