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fbtwitterlinkedinvimeoflicker grey 14rssslideshare1
Young, Ronnie (2013)
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: PN0080, PN0441, PN
James Beattie’s The Minstrel is often viewed as a proto-romantic work for its portrayal of the developing genius of Edwin. In this article I show how Beattie’s exploration of genius also has a particular connection to the intellectual culture of the Aberdeen Enlightenment, which was responsible for producing leading works on genius during the late eighteenth century. This article examines the influence of Marischal College in shaping the analysis of genius during the period. It further demonstrates the impact of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society on Beattie’s thought on genius as it appears in his verse and later critical writing.
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    • 1. See W. Riddick, 'Beattie's Minstrel and the Lessons of Solitude', in Jennifer J. Carter and Joan Pittock (eds), Aberdeen and the Enlightenment (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1987), p.325-30; Joan H. Pittock, 'James Beattie: A Friend to All', in David Hewitt and Michael Spiller (eds), Literature of the North (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1983), p.56; Everard H. King, 'James Beattie and the Growth of Romantic Melancholy', Scottish Literary Journal 5 (1978), p.24-5; Everard H. King, James Beattie's 'The Minstrel' and the Origins of Romantic Autobiography (Lewiston and Lampeter: E. Mellen Press, 1992). Roger Robinson, 'The Origins and Composition of James Beattie's Minstrel', Romanticism 4 (1998), p.224-40.
    • 2. Dafydd Moore, 'The Ossianic Revival, James Beattie and Primitivism', in The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature, vol. II, Enlightenment, Britain and Empire, ed. Susan Manning and others (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007), p.98.
    • 3. See, for example, L. Davis, I. Duncan and J. Sorenson (eds), Scotland and the Borders of Romanticism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).
    • 4. Murray Pittock, Scottish and Irish Romanticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), p.134-6.
    • 5. Rhona Brown, 'The Long Lost James Beattie: The Rediscovery of The Grotesquiad' (forthcoming). I am grateful to Dr Brown for allowing me to read a draft of her article.
    • 6. Ronnie Young, 'Genius, Men and Manners: Burns and Eighteenth-Century Scottish Criticism', Scottish Studies Review 9 (2008), p.129-47.
    • 7. Quoted in Robinson, 'Origins and Composition', p.234.
    • 8. Beattie, The Minstrel; or, The Progress of Genius. A Poem (London: E. & C. Dilly, and Edinburgh: A. Kincaid & J. Bell, 1771), p.v. Unless otherwise indicated, subsequent references to the first book of The Minstrel will be to this edition and, for lines of verse, will take the form of book and stanza numbers.
    • 9. For a discussion of Percy's re-invention of the minstrel figure see Kathryn Sutherland 'The Native Poet: The Influence of Percy's Minstrel from Beattie to Wordsworth', Review of English Studies 33 (1982), p.417-8.
    • 10. Laura Bandiera, ' “In Days of Yore How Fortunately Fared the Minstrel”: Towards a Cultural Genealogy of Wordworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads', European Journal of English Studies 6 (2002), p.193.
    • 11. In a footnote to Book I, Beattie alludes to Percy as justification for his choice of Scotland as the location for this poem: that is the 'North Countrie' from which Percy said most minstrels emerged (p.6). Cf. Thomas Percy, Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (London: J. Dodsley, 1765), p.xxi-xxii.
    • 12. A recent discussion of Percy's response to Macpherson appears in Robert Rix, 'Thomas Percy's Antiquarian Alternative to Ossian', Journal of Folklore Research 46 (2009), p.197-229.
    • 13. Philip Connell, 'British Identities and the Politics of Ancient Poetry in Later Eighteenth-Century England', Historical Journal 49 (2006), p.167-76.
    • 14. Percy, Reliques, p.xv.
    • 15. Percy, Reliques, p.vi.
    • 16. James Macpherson, Fragments of Ancient Poetry, Collected in the Highlands of Scotland (Edinburgh: G. Hamilton and J. Balfour, 1760), p.vii.
    • 17. Hugh Blair, A Critical Dissertation on the Poems of Ossian (London: T. Beckett & P. A. De Hondt, 1763), p.15.
    • 18. See Beattie's letter of 29 March 1762 to Robert Arbuthnott reprinted in William Forbes, An Account of the Life and Writings of James Beattie, 2 vols (Edinburgh: Constable, Creech et al., 1806), vol. I.57-60.
    • 19. See Moore, 'The Ossianic Revival', p.93-4, 96-7.
    • 20. Moore, 'The Ossianic Revival', p.90.
    • 21. Fiona Stafford, The Sublime Savage: A Study of James Macpherson and the Poems of Ossian (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1988), p.37.
    • 22. Mary Catherine Moran, 'Duff, William', in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, online, http:// www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/8174 (accessed 8 August 2011).
    • 23. Forbes, An Account, p.30.
    • 24. For a discussion of Blackwell's influence on Macpherson at Aberdeen see Stafford, Sublime Savage, p.28- 34. Cf. John Dwyer, 'The Melancholy Savage: Text and Context in the Poems of Ossian', in Howard Gaskill (ed.), Ossian Revisited (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1991), p.175.
    • 25. Margaret Forbes, Beattie and his Friends [1903] (Altrincham: J. Martin Stafford, 1990), p.5.
    • 26. Joan Pittock, 'James Beattie: A Friend to All', p.55.
    • 27. Thomas Blackwell, An Enquiry into the Life and Writings of Homer (London:, 1735), p.4.
    • 28. Blackwell, An Enquiry, p.5.
    • 29. See Blackwell, An Enquiry, pp.11-12.
    • 30. Blackwell, An Enquiry, p.46.
    • 31. Blackwell, An Enquiry, p.26.
    • 32. See, for example, Blair, A Critical Dissertation, p.2-4; William Duff, An Essay on Original Genius; and Its Various Modes of Exertion in Philosophy and the Fine Arts, Particularly in Poetry (London: Edward and Charles Dilly, 1767), p.vii. See also Moore, 'The Ossianic Revival', p.92-3, and Young, 'Genius, Men and Manners', p.138-9. For Blackwell's influence on Blair, see Steve Rizza, 'A Bulky and Foolish Treatise? Hugh Blair's Critical Dissertation Reconsidered', in Ossian Revisited, p.133-4.
    • 33. Blair, A Critical Dissertation, p.16.
    • 34. See Adam Smith, 'The Origin and Development of our Property Rights', in Alexander Broadie (ed.), The Scottish Enlightenment: An Anthology (Edinburgh: Canongate Classics, 1997), p.478-87.
    • 35. Blair, A Critical Dissertation, p.16-17.
    • 36. Blair, A Critical Dissertation, p.22.
    • 37. Blair, A Critical Dissertation, p.16. See also p.46, for direct comparison of Homer's genius with that of Ossian.
    • 38. Murray Pittock, Scottish and Irish Romanticism, p.134.
    • 39. Conrad Brunström, 'James Beattie and the Great Outdoors: Common Sense Philosophy and the Pious Imagination', Romanticism 3 (1997), p.25; cf. p.26.
    • 40. Beattie's preface for the revised 1784 edition drops the phrase 'illiterate' - perhaps as a result of his research into medieval culture for his essay 'On Fable and Romance' (1783) - but keeps the 'rude age' as setting. See Beattie, The Minstrel, 8th edn (London: Charles Dilly and William Creech, Edinburgh, 1784), p.xi.
    • 41. Joan H. Pittock 'Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the North East', in Aberdeen and the Enlightenment, p.276-7.
    • 42. David Fordyce, Dialogues Concerning Education (London, 1745), p.110.
    • 43. Fordyce, Dialogues Concerning Education, p.110.
    • 44. Fordyce, Dialogues Concerning Education, p.136-40.
    • 45. James Beattie, The Minstrel; or, The Progress of Genius. The Second Book (London: Edward & Charles Dilly; and William Creech, Edinburgh, 1774), p.v. All subsequent references to the second book of The Minstrel will be to this edition and will take the form of book and stanza numbers.
    • 46. Fordyce, Dialogues Concerning Education, p.136.
    • 47. Cf. Stafford, Sublime Savage, pp.26-7.
    • 48. For an overview of the reforms at Marischal, see Paul B. Wood, The Aberdeen Enlightenment: The Arts Curriculum in the Eighteenth Century (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press), p.61-73.
    • 49. Alexander Gerard, A Plan of Education in the Marischal College and University of Aberdeen (Aberdeen: James Chalmers, 1755), p.6-7. See also Stafford, Sublime Savage, p.26-7.
    • 50. Gerard, Plan of Education, p.14.
    • 51. For an outline of the society's membership and activities see H. Lewis Ulman, The Minutes of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society, 1758-1773 (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1990), p.24-4.
    • 52. Ulman, Minutes, p.37-40; Roger J. Robinson, 'Beattie, James (1735-1803)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/1831 (accessed 8 August 2011).
    • 53. Cf. Joan Pittock, 'Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the North East', p.277.
    • 54. See Ulman, Minutes, p.189.
    • 55. Ulman, Minutes, p.46.
    • 56. Ulman, Minutes, p.190.
    • 57. Gerard acknowledges such provenance in his Essay on Genius, noting that it was begun in 1758, when 'he was in an office which favoured enquires of this nature' and the same year the Wise Club commenced. Alexander Gerard, An Essay on Genius (London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1774), p.iii.
    • 58. The final recorded minutes for the Society read that 'Dr Gerard intimated the [...] to be a continuation of [...]' (Ulman, Minutes, p.187), suggesting that Gerard planned the subject of his next discourse to be a continuation of his former subject and that he may have read more discourses on genius than are recorded.
    • 59. Ulman, Minutes, p.86, 120, 162. Beattie's letter of 16 November 1766 to Charles Boyd asks 'Do you not think there is a sort of antipathy between philosophical and poetical genius?' and shows his interest in the different 'kinds' of genius. See Letters of James Beattie (London: John Sharpe, 1819-21), vol. I.36.
    • 60. See Gerard, Essay on Genius, p.1-2.
    • 61. Duff, Essay on Original Genius, p.3-26, 260-96.
    • 62. See Stafford, Sublime Savage p.36.
    • 63. Joan Pittock, 'Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the North East', p.277.
    • 64. Gerard discoursed on the 'kinds of genius' on 14 November 1769 (Ulman, Minutes, p.161-2). Since the order of Gerard's discourses is preserved in his Essay on Genius we can conjecture that a discourse dealing with taste, although not explicitly mentioned in the society's minutes, would have followed this discourse, with possible dates being 13 November 1770, 12 November 1771 or 10 November 1772. Beattie was present at all these meetings. Robinson suggests that nothing was added to book II of The Minstrel between 1770 and 1773, which further suggests that stanza LVII was composed some time after February 1773 (see Robinson, 'Origins and Composition', p.228-9).
    • 65. Gerard, Essay on Genius, p.393.
    • 66. See Duff, Essay on Original Genius, p.8-10; Gerard, Essay on Genius, p.71-95.
    • 67. Gerard, Essay on Genius, p.71.
    • 68. Beattie, Dissertations Moral and Critical (London: Routledge/Thoemmes Press, 1996), p.146-7.
    • 69. Gerard, Essay on Genius, p.8.
    • 70. Beattie, Dissertations, p.146. See also Beattie, Elements of Moral Science, 2 vols (London: Routledge/ Thoemmes Press, 1996), vol. I.106; in the section on imagination Beattie writes: 'Now this inventing power is ascribed, as observed already, to the imagination and fancy, and, when regulated by good sense and applied to useful purposes, is called genius.'
    • 71. Beattie, Dissertations, p.147.
    • 72. Beattie, Dissertations, p.147.
    • 73. Beattie, Dissertations, p.148.
    • 74. See Beattie's letter of November 1769 to Thomas Gray in The Correspondence of Thomas Gray, ed. Paget Toynbee and Leonard Whibley, 3 vols (Oxford: Clarendon, 1935), vol. III.1084.
    • 75. Beattie, The Minstrel, 8th edn (p.xi).
    • 76. See Murray Pittock, Scottish and Irish Romanticism, p.134-6.
    • 77. Beattie, Dissertations, p.148-9.
    • 78. William Sharpe, A Dissertation upon Genius (London: C. Bathurst, 1755; repr. New York: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1973), p.74-5.
    • 79. Duff, Essay on Original Genius, p.1-2.
    • 80. Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767), ed. Duncan Forbes (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1966), vol. I.10, 63.
    • 81. Beattie, Dissertations, p.148. 6. Add stamp Tool - for approving a proof if no corrections are required.
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