Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/121

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


as might be supposed from the character of his own efforts, of the writings of Spenser, Collins, Akenside, and Gray, the three last of whom bear so honoura- ble a distinction from the cold and epigrammatic manner of their contemporaries. During one of the recesses of the college, while residing in the country, he be- came known to Patrick lord Elibank, who, with his usual enthusiasm in favour of genius of every kind, warmly patronized him.

On completing his education, Logan was received as tutor into the house of Mr Siuclairof Ulbster, and thus became preceptor of the late Sir John Sinclair, author of the Code of Agriculture. He did not long retain this situation, in which he was succeeded by his friend Robertson. In 1770, he superintended the publication of the first edition of the poems of Bruce, who had died three years before. The volume professedly contained a few supplementary pieces by other writers, and of these Logan was himself the principal author. The best of his contributions was the Ode to the Cuckoo, which, notwithstanding the ob- vious fault of a want of connexion between the various parts of various stanzas, is still one of the most popular poems in the language.

In 1773, Logan was licensed as a preacher by the presbytery of Edinburgh, thus joining the ranks of the established, instead of the dissenting church. He soon became known as an eloquent and affecting preacher, and in the same year was called by the kirk-session and incorporations of South Leith, to be their minister ; a situation always considered as one of the most honourable in the church of Scotland, and which had just been vacated by another man of genius, Dr Henry Hunter, whose life has been given in the present work. Here he continued to cultivate literature with devoted ardour, though it was not till 1781, that he thought proper to publish any poetry under his own name. Among the studies of Dr Logan, history was one of those in which he most delighted. In the winter of 1779, he delivered a course of lectures on the Philosophy of History, in St Mary's chapel, Edinburgh, under the countenance and appro- bation of Drs Robertson, Blair, Ferguson, and other eminent persons connected with the university. So successful was he in these exhibitions, that, on the chair of universal history becoming vacant in 1780, he would unquestionably have obtained it, if he had possessed the incidental qualification of being a member of the Scottish bar. In the succeeding year, he published an analysis of his lectures, so far as they related to ancient history, under the title of " Ele- ments of the Philosophy of History," which was followed by one of the lectures "On the Manners and Government of Asia." His poems, published in 1781, attracted so much attention, that a second edition was called for next year. In this collection, he reprinted several of the pieces which he had formerly given to the world along with those of Michael Bruce. A painful charge rests against his memory, regarding the real authorship of some of those pieces, and also re- specting the use he made of a copious manuscript of Bruce's poetry, intrusted to him after the publication of the first volume. Into this controversy, which is fully stated in Anderson's edition of the British Poets, we deem it unnecessary, in the present state of the literary reputation of both men, to enter ; but we can state, as a fact not formerly known to the biographers of Logan, that he assert- ed his innocence in a very decided manner, after his removal to London, by ordering an Edinburgh agent to take out an interdict against an edition of Bruce's poems, in which several of his own pieces had been appropriated, under the supposition of their belonging to that poet %

Undeterred by the fate of Home, Logan produced a tragedy in 1783. It was entitled " Runnimede," and aimed at combining the history of Magna Charta with a love-story said to be expressly borrowed from the Tancrede of Voltaire. Runnimede was rehearsed by Mr Harris at Covent Garden theatre,