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James Beattie to Thomas Gray, [30 March 1767]

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[ ] A professor at Edinburgh has published an Essay on the History of Civil Society, but I have not seen it. It is a fault common to almost all our Scotch authors, that they are too metaphysical: I wish they would learn to speak more to the heart, and less to the understanding; but alas! this is a talent which heaven only can bestow: Whereas the philosophic spirit (as we call it) is merely artificial and level to the capacity of every man, who has much patience, a little learning, and no taste. [ ]

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Letter ID: letters.0493 (Source: TEI/XML)


Writer: Beattie, James, 1735-1803
Writer's age: 31
Addressee: Gray, Thomas, 1716-1771
Addressee's age: 50


Date of composition: [30 March 1767]
Date (on letter): [March 30, 1767]
Calendar: Gregorian


Place of composition: [Aberdeen, United Kingdom]


Language: English
Incipit: A professor at Edinburgh has published an Essay on the History of Civil Society,...
Mentioned: Ferguson, Adam

Holding Institution

Availability: The original letter is unlocated, a copy, transcription, or published version survives

Print Versions

  • The Poems of Mr. Gray. To which are prefixed Memoirs of his Life and Writings by W[illiam]. Mason. York: printed by A. Ward; and sold by J. Dodsley, London; and J. Todd, York, 1775, section iv, 326 note
  • Correspondence of Thomas Gray, 3 vols. Ed. by the late Paget Toynbee and Leonard Whibley, with corrections and additions by H. W. Starr. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971 [1st ed. 1935], letter no. 437, vol. iii, 953-954