Doig, David (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

DOIG, DAVID (1719–1800), philologist, was born at Monifieth, Forfarshire, in 1719. His father, who was a small farmer, died while he was an infant, and his mother married again. The stepfather, however, treated him kindly. From a defect of eyesight he did not learn to read till his twelfth year, but such was his quickness that in three years he was successful in a Latin competition for a bursary at the university of St. Andrews. Having finished the classical and philosophical course with distinction and proceeded B.A., he commenced the study of divinity, but scruples regarding the Westminster Confession of Faith prevented him from entering the ministry. He had taught, from 1749, the parochial schools of Monifieth, his birthplace, and of Kennoway and Falkland in Fifeshire, when his growing reputation gained for him the rectorship of the grammar school of Stirling, which office he continued to fill with rare ability for upwards of forty years. In addition to Greek and Latin Doig had mastered Hebrew and Arabic, and was generally well read in the history and literature of the East. The university of Glasgow conferred on him the honorary degree of LL.D., and on the same day he received from St. Andrews his diploma as M.A. He was also elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Doig's first known appearance in print was some twenty pages of annotation on the ‘Gaberlunzie-man,’ inserted in an edition of that and another old Scottish poem, ‘Christ's Kirk on the Green,’ which was published in 1782 by his friend and neighbour John Callander of Craigforth. After an interval of ten years he published ‘Two Letters on the Savage State, addressed to the late Lord Kaims,’ 4to, London, 1792, in which he seeks to refute the judge's not very original views as to the primitive condition of the human race, propounded in the ‘Sketches of the History of Man,’ 1774. The first of these letters, written in 1775, was sent to Lord Kaimes, who was passing the Christmas vacation at Blair Drummond, a few miles from Stirling, and who was much struck with the learning, ability, and fairness of his anonymous correspondent. Having soon discovered the writer, he invited him to dinner next day, ‘when,’ writes Tytler (Lord Woodhouselee), a mutual friend, ‘the subject of their controversy was freely and amply discussed; and though neither of them could boast of making a convert of his antagonist, a cordial friendship took place from that day, and a literary correspondence began, which suffered no interruption during their joint lives’ (Tytler, Memoirs of Lord Kaimes, 2nd edit., ii. 185–93). Lord Kaimes survived until 1782. Doig's next publication was entitled ‘Extracts from a Poem on the Prospect from Stirling Castle. I. The Vision. II. Carmore and Orma, a love tale. III. The Garden. IV. The King's Knot. V. Three Hymns, Morning, Noon, and Evening,’ 4to, Stirling, 1796. Besides his separate works Doig contributed to vol. iii. of the ‘Transactions’ of the Royal Society of Edinburgh a dissertation ‘On the Ancient Hellenes.’ A continuation which he forwarded to the society was lost and never appeared. He also wrote in the third edition of the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica’ the articles on ‘Mythology,’ ‘Mysteries,’ and ‘Philology.’ They attracted great attention, and brought their author into correspondence with some of the most eminent scholars of that day, among whom were Dr. William Vincent, afterwards dean of Westminster, and Jacob Bryant.

Doig, who was married and left issue, died at Stirling on 16 March 1800, aged 81. A mural tablet, with an inscription in commemoration of his virtues and learning, was raised by his friend John Ramsay of Ochtertyre. The town of Stirling also erected a marble monument to his memory, which contains a Latin epitaph written by himself.

Besides Latin and English poems Doig left many treatises in manuscript. A list of the more important is given in ‘Encyclopædia Britannica,’ 8th edit. viii. 92.

[Dr. David Irving in Encyclopædia Britannica, 8th edit., viii. 90–2, reprinted in the same author's Lives of Scottish Writers, ii. 313–24; The New Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. viii. (Stirling) 422, ix. (Fife) 933, xi. (Forfar) 556; Tytler's Memoirs of Lord Kaimes, 2nd edit. ii. 185–93; Nimmo's Hist. of Stirlingshire, 3rd edit. ii. 63–65; Chambers's Biog. Dict. of Eminent Scotsmen (ed. Thomson), i. 449–50; Anderson's Scottish Nation, ii. 39–40; Conolly's Biog. Dict. of Eminent Men of Fife.]

G. G.