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composition, his Lectures will afford a more comprehensive view of what relates to these subjects, than, as far as he knows, is to be received from any one book in our language.
In order to render his work of greater service, he has generally referred to the books which he consulted, as far as he remembers them; that the readers might be directed to any farther illustration which they afford. But as such a length of time has elapsed since the first composition of his Lectures, he may, perhaps, have adopted the sentiments of some author into whose writings he had then looked, without now remembering whence he derived . them.
In the opinions which he has delivered concerning such a variety of authors, and of literary matters, as come under his consideration, he cannot expect that all his readers will concur with him. The subjects are of such a nature as allow room for much diversity of taste and sentiment: and the Author will
respectfully submit to the judgment of the Public.
Retaining the simplicity of the Lecturing style, as best fitted for conveying instruction, he has aimed, in his language, at no more than perspicuity. If, after the liberties which it was necessary for him to take, in criticising the style of the most eminent writers in our language, his own style shall be thought open to reprehension, all that he can say is, that his book will add one to the many proofs already afforded to the world, of its being much easier to give instruction, than to set example.
DR HUGH BLAIR was born in Edinburgh on the 7th of April 1718. He was descended from the ancient and respectable family of Blair, in Ayrshire. His greatgrandfather, Mr Robert Blair, minister of St Andrew's, and chaplain to Charles I. was distinguished by his firm attachment to the cause of freedom, and his zealous support of the Presbyterian form of church government, in the time of the civil wars. The talents of this worthy man seem to have descended as an inheritance to his posterity. Of the two sons who survived him, David, the eldest, was one of the ministers of the Old Church in Edinburgh, and father of Mr Robert Blair, minister of Athelstaneford, the celebrated author of the poem entitled "The GRAVE," and grandfather of Lord President Blair, distinguished by his masculine eloquence, profound knowledge of law, and hereditary love of literature. From his youngest son Hugh, sprung Mr John Blair, who was a respectable merchant, and one of the magistrates of Edinburgh. He married Martha Ogston; and the first child of this marriage was the excellent person who is the subject of this narrative.
In consequence of some misfortunes in trade, his father retired from mercantile business, and obtained an office in the Excise; yet his fortune was not so much impaired as to prevent him from giving his son a liberal education.
From his earliest youth his views were turned towards the clerical profession, and his education received a suitable direction. After going through the usual grammatical course at the High School, he entered the Humanity class, in the University of Edinburgh, in October 1730, and spent eleven years in that celebrated seminary, in the study of literature, philosophy, and divinity. In all the classes he was distinguished among his companions, both for diligence and proficiency; but in the Logic. class he attained particular distinction, by an Essay On the Beautiful; which had the good fortune to attract the notice of Professor Stevenson, and was appointed to be read publicly at the end of the session, with the most flattering marks of the Professor's approbation. This mark of distinction made a deep impression on his mind, and determined the bent of his genius towards polite literature.
At this time he formed a plan of study, which contributed much to the accuracy and extent of his knowledge. It consisted in making abstracts of the most important works which he read, and in digesting them according to the train of his own thoughts. History, in particular, he resolved to study in this manner, and constructed a very comprehensive scheme of chronological tables for receiving into its proper place every important fact that should occur. This scheme has been given to the world in a more extensive and correct form by his learned friend Dr John Blair, Prebendary of Westminster, in his "Chronology and History of the World."
In 1739 he took the degree of Master of Arts; and on that occasion printed and defended a thesis, De Fundamentis et Obligatione Legis Naturæ, which exhibits an outline of the moral principles by which the world was afterwards to profit in his Sermons.
At this period he was engaged as a tutor in the family of Lord Lovat, and spent one summer in the north coun
try, attending his Lordship's eldest son, afterwards General Fraser. When his pupil was appointed to the command of the 71st Regiment, he testified his respect for his old tutor, by making him chaplain to one of its battalions.
On the completion of his academical course, he was licensed to preach the gospel by the Presbytery of Edinburgh, on the 21st of October 1741. His first appearances in the pulpit fully justified the expectations of his friends, and, in a few months, the fame of his eloquence procured for him a presentation to the church of Colessie, in Fifeshire, where he was ordained minister on the 23d September 1742.
He was not permitted to remain long in the obscurity of a country parish. In consequence of a vacancy in the second charge of the Canongate of Edinburgh, which was to be supplied by popular election, his friends were enàbled to recall him to a station more suited to his talents. Though Mr Robert Walker, a popular and eloquent preacher, was his competitor, he obtained a majority of votes, and was admitted on the 14th July 1743. In this station he continued eleven years, assiduously devoted to the attainment of professional excellence, and the regular discharge of his parochial duties.
In 1748 he married his cousin, Catharine Bannatyne, daughter of the Rev. James Bannatyne, one of the ministers of Edinburgh; a woman distinguished for the strength of her understanding, and the prudence of her conduct. In consequence of a call from the Town Council of Edinburgh, he was translated from the Canongate to Lady Yester's church, in the city, on the 11th of October 1754; and from thence to the first charge in the High Church, on the 15th of June 1758, the most respectable clerical situation in the kingdom. The uniform prudence,