Essays by Beattie
Author: James BeattiePeter Jones
By James Beattie 1776 First Edition
Printed In Edinburgh For William Creech
The Volume is in Very Good Condition Bound in gilt-ruled speckled calf, with the spine divided into six gilt-stamped compartments by five gilt and raised bands, with a red morocco letter-piece in the second compartment from the top, with the board edges gilt tooled. Externally the boards and spine are lightly scuffed in general, with the front board holding by the cords, the rear hinge showing splits, with chipping to the head and tail of the spine, and with the board corners bumped a bit. Internally, the leaves are generally clean and amply margined with some small stains on occasion as well as faint scattered foxing, and with perhaps some toning at the initial leaves.
The Volume is Complete in All Respects With List Of Subscribers and Errata. See below for pagination & dimensions.
Of James Beattie
James Beattie was born the son of a shopkeeper and small farmer at Laurencekirk in the Mearns, and educated at Marischal College (later part of Aberdeen University), graduating in 1753. In 1760, he was appointed Professor of moral philosophy there as a result of the interest of his intimate friend, Robert Arbuthnot of Haddo. In the following year he published a volume of poems, The Judgment of Paris (1765), which attracted attention. The two works, however, which brought him most fame were An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth, and his poem of The Minstrel. The Essay, intended as an answer to David Hume, had great immediate success, and led to an introduction to the King, a pension of £200, and the degree of LL.D. from Oxford. The first book of The Minstrel was published in 1771 and the second in 1774, and constitutes his true title to remembrance, winning him the praise of Samuel Johnson. It contains much beautiful descriptive writing. Beattie was prominent in arguing against the institution of slavery, notably in his Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth and Elements of Moral Science.
Beattie was an amateur cellist and member of the Aberdeen Musical Society. He considered questions of music philosophy in his essay On Poetry and Music, published with a folio reissue of the Essay in 1776. It was republished several times and translated into French in 1798.
Beattie defines truth as, as “what the constitution of our nature determines us to believe.” Common sense is identified as “that faculty by which we perceive self-evident truth,” whereas reason is “that power by which we perceive truth in consequence of a proof.” Beattie then argues that the evidence of perception generally reliable; that everything which ever “begins to exist” has a cause; that nature is uniform; and therefore that human testimony is essentially trustworthy. Beattie criticizes David Hume for promoting skepticism, arguing that Hume’s views led to moral and religious evils. Beattie holds that the mind possesses a common sense, or power for perceiving self-evident truths. Common sense is instinctive and unaltered by education, and truth is what it leads the mind to believe. Beattie also challenges racism evident in David Hume’s essay ‘Of National Characters’. Responding to Hume’s assertion that “I am apt to suspect the negroes to be naturally inferior to the whites,” Beattie writes “That the inhabitants of Great Britain and France were as savage two thousand years ago, as those of Africa and America are at this day.”
Pagination & Dimensions
The volume is paginated as follows: , [i]-xiv, , 4-757, . The volume collates as follows: a-c4, A2-4, B-5B4, 5C3. The volume measures about 27.5 cm. By 22 cm. By 6 cm. Each leaf measure about 260 mm. By 210 mm.