Ogilvie, John (1733-1813) (DNB00)

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OGILVIE, JOHN (1733–1813), presbyterian divine and author, born in Aberdeen in 1733, was the eldest son of James Ogilvie, minister there. After graduating at the Aberdeen University he was appointed to the parish of Lumphanan in 1759, and in the same year was transferred to Midmar, where he remained until his death. In 1764 he preached before the high commissioner of the General Assembly of the Scottish Church; in 1766 he was made D.D. by Aberdeen University, and in 1775 was appointed one of the committee for the revision of the 'Scottish Translations and Paraphrases.' He married in January 1771, and had a family. He died at Aberdeen on 17 Nov. 1813.

Ogilvie was one of a contemporary group of Scottish literary clergy. He frequently appeared in the literary circles of London and Edinburgh, and was a fellow of the Edinburgh Royal Society. It was to Ogilvie, while dining with Boswell in London, that Johnson remarked, 'Let me tell you, the noblest prospect which a Scotsman ever sees is the high road which leads him to England.' At the age of sixteen he wrote the hymn, 'Begin, my soul, the exalted lay,' afterwards included in 'Poems on several Subjects;' but his most popular work as a hymn-writer is the paraphrase he contributed to the Scottish collection of 1781, 'Lo, in the last of days behold.' His poems are long, and show learning rather than poetic gifts. Churchill, in the 'Journey,' refers to them as 'a tale of rueful length,' spun out 'under dark Allegory's flimsy veil.' Johnson 'saw nothing' in the 'Day of Judgment,' but Boswell thought it had 'no inconsiderable share of merit.' His philosophical works were mainly attempts to defend the theology of his day against the deists and Hume. 'In "The Theology of Plato" he treats of topics not usually discussed by the Scottish metaphysicians' (M'Cosh, Scottish Philosophy, p. 241).

His works are: 1. 'The Day of Judgment: a Poem,' Edinburgh, 1753. 2. 'Poems on several Subjects, with Essay on Lyric Poetry,' London, 1762, an enlarged edition of which, in two vols., appeared in 1769. 3. 'Providence: an Allegorical Poem,' London, 1767. 4. 'Solitude, or the Elysium of the Poets,' 1765. 5. 'Sermons,' London, 1767. 6. 'Paradise: a Poem,' 1769. 7. 'Philosophical and Critical Observations on Composition,' 2 vols. London, 1774. 8. 'Rona: a Poem in seven books, with Map of the Hebrides,' London, 1777. 9. 'Inquiry into the Causes of Infidelity and Scepticism,' London, 1783. 10. 'The Fane of the Druids,' 1789. 11. 'The Theology of Plato compared with the Principles of Grecian and Oriental Philosophers,' 1793. 12. 'Britannia: a national epic Poem in twenty books, with Dissertation on the Epic,' Aberdeen, 1801 (this volume contains an engraved portrait of the author). 13. 'Prophecy and the Christian Religion,' Aberdeen, 1808. 14. 'Triumphs of Christianity over Deism,' Dalkeith, 1805.

[Scott's Fasti Ecclesiæ, vol. iii. pt. i. pp. 537, 538; Scots Mag. 1814, p. 79; Boswell's Life of Johnson, ed. Hill, i. 421, 425; Julian's Dict. of Hymnology, p. 856; Nichols's Illustrations of Lit. Hist. iv. 835; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

J. R. M.