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JOHN LOG AN.
BORN 1748.-DIED 1788.
John Logan was the son of a farmer, in the parish of Fala, and county of Mid-Lothian, Scotland. He was educated for the church, at the university of Edinburgh. There he contracted an intimacy with Dr. Robertson, who was then a student of his own standing; and he was indebted to that eminent character for many friendly offices in the course of his life. After finishing his theological studies, he lived for some time in the family of Mr. Sinclair, of Ulbster, as tutor to the present Sir John Sinclair. In his twenty-fifth year, he was ordained one of the ministers of Leith; and had a principal share in the scheme for revising the psalmody of the Scottish church, under the authority of the general assembly. He contributed to this undertaking several scriptural translations, and paraphrases, of his own composition. About the same time, he delivered, during two successive seasons, in Edinburgh, Lectures on History, which were attended with so much approbation, that he was brought forward as a candidate for the professorship of history in the university; but, as the chair had been always filled by one of the members of the faculty of advocates, the choice fell upon another competitor, who possessed that qualification. When disappointed in this object, he published the substance of his lectures in a work, entitled, “ Elements of the Philosophy of History;" and, in a separate essay,
“ On the Manners of Asia.” His poems, which had hitherto been only circulated in MS. or printed in a desultory manner, were collected and published in 1781. The favourable reception which they met with, encouraged him to attempt the composition of a tragedy, and he chose the charter of Runnymede for his subject. This innocent drama was sent to the manager of Covent Garden, by whom it was accepted, and even put into rehearsal ; but, on some groundless rumour of its containing dangerous political matter, the Lord Chamberlain thought fit to prohibit its representation. It was, however, acted on the Edinburgh boards, and afterwards published; though without exhibiting in its contents any thing calculated to agitate either poetical or political feelings.
In the mean time our author unhappily drew on himself the displeasure of his parishioners. His connexion with the stage was deemed improper in a clergyman. His literary pursuits interfered with his pastoral diligence; and, what was worse, he was constitutionally subject to fits of depression, from which he took refuge in inebriety. Whatever his irregularities were, (for they have been differently described,) he was obliged to compound for them, by resigning his flock, and retiring upon a small annuity. He came to London, where his principal literary employments were, furnishing articles for the English Review, and writing in vindication of Warren Hastings. He died, at the age of forty, at his lodgings, in Marlborough-street. His Sermons, which were published two years after his death, have obtained considerable popularity.
His “ Ode to the Cuckoo” is the most agreeable effusion of his fancy. Burke was so much pleased with it, that, when he came to Edinburgh, he made himself acquainted with its author. His claim to this piece has indeed been disputed by the relatives of Michael Bruce; and it is certain, that when Bruce's poems were sent to Logan, he published them intermixed with his
marks to discriminate the respective authors. He is farther accused of having refused to restore the MSS. But as the charge of stealing the Cuckoo from Bruce was not brought against Logan in his life-time, it cannot, in charity, stand against his memory on the bare assertion of his accusers.
ODE TO THE CUCKOO.
Hail, beauteous stranger of the grove !
Thou messenger of Spring!
And woods thy welcome sing.
What time the isy decks the green,
Thy certain voice we hear;
Hast thou a star to guide thy path,
Or mark the rolling year?
Delightful visitant! with thee
I hail the time of flowers,
From birds among the bowers.
The schoolboy, wandering through the wood
To pull the primrose gay,
And imitates thy lay.
What time the pea puts on the bloom
Thou fliest thy vocal vale,
Another Spring to hail.
Sweet bird! thy bower is ever green,
Thy sky is ever clear;
No winter in thy year!
O could I fly, I'd fly with thee!
We'd make, with joyful wing, Our annual visit o'er the globe,
Companions of the Spring.
Har. 'Tis midnight dark: 'tis silence deep, My father's house is hush'd in sleep; In dreams the lover meets his bride, She sees her lover at her side; The mourner's voice is now supprest, A while the weary are at rest : 'Tis midnight dark; 'tis silence deep; I only wake, and wake to weep.
The window's drawn, the ladder waits,
The dog howls dismal in the heath,