Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Adamson, John (d.1653)

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ADAMSON, JOHN (d. 1653), was principal of the university of Edinburgh and a bosom friend of Andrew Melville; he is deserving of remembrance as the editor of ‘Tὰ τῶν Μουσῶν Εἰσόδια. The Muses Welcome to the High and Mighty Prince Iames by the grace of God King of Great Britaine, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. At his Majestie's happie Returne to his olde and native Kingdome of Scotland, after 14 yeeres absence, in Anno 1617. Digested according to the order of his Majesties Progresse. By I. A. [John Adamson].’

John Adamson was son of Henry Adamson, provost of Perth, and grandson of Dr. Patrick Adamson, archbishop of St. Andrews [see Adamson, Patrick]. Educated in ‘grammar’ learning in his native city, Master Adamson proceeded early to the university of St. Andrew's, where subsequently he held the professorship of philosophy. In 1589 he was appointed to one of the professorial chairs in the university of Edinburgh, which office he held with great reputation until 1604. In 1604, having been presented to the church of North Berwick, he resigned his professorship. Later he was translated to the parish of Libberton, near Edinburgh, In 1625, on the death of Dr. Robert Boyd of Trochrig, he was appointed principal of the university of Edinburgh, and held the post till 1653, the year of his death; when he was succeeded by the ‘holy Leighton.’ It is believed that he collected the Latin poems of Andrew Melville, entitled ‘Viri clarissimi A. Melvini Mvsæ’ (1620). His ‘Dioptra Gloriæ Divinæ’ (1637) is a masterly commentary on Psalm XIX, and his ‘Methodus Religionis Christianæ’ (1637) has much of the terseness and suggestiveness of Musculus. His ‘Traveller's Joy’, to which is added ‘The Ark’ (1623), has been undeservedly overlooked by the historians of Scottish poetry. The ‘Muses Welcome’ preserved speeches and ‘theses’ and poems by himself and nearly all his famous contemporaries—e.g. David and Alexander Hume, Drummond of Hawthornden, David Wedderburn, Dr. Robert Boyd, David Primrose. The gem of the collection is Drummond's ‘Panegyricke to the King,’ which contains his enumeration of the rivers of Scotland, done with a picturesqueness and felicity of characterisation not inferior to Michael Drayton. Nichols's ‘Progresses of James I’ preserves the ‘speeches.’

[The Muses' Welcome, ut supra; Melville's Musæ (ib.); Dr. McCrie's Andrew Melville, ii. 456, 511; Corser's Collectanea Anglo-Poetica, i. 12–14; Works enumerated; MSS. at North Berwick, Libberton, Edinburgh.]

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