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Significant Scots
George Logan


LOGAN, GEORGE, chiefly celebrated as the controversial opponent of Ruddiman, was born in the year 1678, and is supposed to have been the son of George Logan, a descendant of the family of Logan of Logan, in Ayrshire, who married Miss Cunningham, a daughter of the clergyman of Old Cumnock, and sister to Mr Alexander Cunningham, professor of civil law in the university of Edinburgh, towards the latter end of the 16th century. [Chalmers’ Life of Ruddiman, 190.] George Logan was educated at the university of Glasgow, of which he entered the Greek class in 1693, and became a master of arts in 1696. Being destined for the church, he was licensed as a preacher by the presbytery of Glasgow about the year 1702, and on the 7th of April, 1707, he was ordained a minister by the same presbytery, in pursuance of a popular call to the parish of Lauder, the ministry of which he obtained in preference to two other candidates, Mr Stephen Oliver and Mr George Hall. He remained at Lauder until the 22nd January, 1719, when, in consequence of another call, which was unanimous on the part of the parishioners, he was appointed to the ministry of Sprouston, in the presbytery of Kelso. A second time inducements were held forth, which prompted him to change his sphere of duty, and on the 22nd January, 1722, he was inducted as minister of Dunbar. Here he married his first wife, the sister of Sir Alexander Home of Eccles in the Merse, a lady who left him a son and daughter, both of whom survived him. His ministry appears to have secured much popularity, for advancement was again held forth to him; and on the 14th December, 1732, he was admitted one of the ministers of Edinburgh. He whose fame and fortune had been so much advanced by the popular voice, now published a treatise "On the Right of Electing Ministers," and it may safely be presumed, that the libera1 opinions thus commenced and continued through the rest of his life, were at least fostered by the influence which the exercise of a popular right had produced on his own fortune. It is probable that this tract was published just before his appointment to the charge in Edinburgh, being dated in the same year. When the act for bringing to punishment those connected with the Porteous mob, in 1736, was ordered to be read in all the churches, on the last Sunday of every month during a year, "all the ministers," says Mr Chalmers, rather enigmatically, "did not think with Logan that the will of the legislature ought, on this occasion, to be obeyed. And he was carried, by the activity of his temper, into a contest, in 1737, with the Rev. Dr Alexander Webster, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, on the propriety of refusing obedience to an act of parliament, in a point wherein it is not easy to perceive how either conscience or religion could be concerned." On the 8th of May, 1740, Logan was appointed moderator of the general assembly. During the occupation of Edinburgh by the Highlanders, in 1745, Logan, in common with most of the other ministers of Edinburgh, thought it prudent to secure his personal safety by quitting the town. His house, being near the weigh-house, where the Highlanders had a guard to prevent communication between the city and castle, was occupied by them as a guard-house. After their retirement, he inserted in the newspapers an advertisement for the recovery of some articles abstracted by his late guests, a document containing more satire upon the tory party than his political pamphlets. His controversy with Ruddiman originated in the edition of Buchanan’s works, edited by that eminent scholar in 1715. He had become a member of a society of critics, whose ostensible purpose was to rescue the memory of Buchanan from the prejudicial opinions of his editor, but whose labours, though they appear to have reached a considerable extent of matter, were never published. In 1746, Logan published "A Treatise on Government: showing that the right of the kings of Scotland to the crown was not strictly and absolutely hereditary;" and, in 1747, he subjoined "A Second Treatise on Government, showing that the right to the crown of Scotland was not hereditary in the sense of Jacobites." The first answer he received was in an anonymous letter, written in a spirit of airy ridicule, and in July, 1747, appeared the graver discussion of the grounds of his opinions by Ruddiman. Logan, in company with many men who have supported liberal and enlightened political sentiments, had the misfortune to be more anxious to establish them on historical precedent, than on their native merits, and the history of Scotland was peculiarly barren in ascertained facts for such a purpose. His principles appear to have been somewhat akin to those of Grotius, which admitted nothing in hereditary right but a continuation to the descendants of the permission given to their ancestor to govern. To show that the crown of Scotland did not descend through the Stewarts in a pure legitimate stream, he discussed the well-known subject of the legitimacy of Robert III., and the question, certainly at one time debateable, whether the Pretender was or was not the son of James II. The former of these points has now been pretty satisfactorily established by the labours of Innes, Hay, Stewart, and Ruddiman, and the latter is no longer a matter of doubt. But Logan is accused of having gone to other and more frail sources; a fabulous list of kings had been added to the number of the tenants of the Scottish throne, by Boece and the other early chroniclers. Buchanan, if he did not know the list to be fabricated, knew the circumstances of the lives of these persons to rest on so unstable a foundation, that he found himself enabled to twist their characters to his theories. On the events connected with the reigns of these persons, Logan likewise comments; but after having done so, turning to the writings of Innes and Stillingfleet, he remarked—"But I shall be so good as to yield it to Lloyd, Stillingfleet, and Innes: but then let our Scottish Jacobites and the young chevalier give over their boasting of hereditary succession by a longer race of kings in Scotland than in any kingdom in the known world." [First Treatise, 50.] Ruddiman employed his usual labour in clearing the questions about Robert III. and the birth of the Pretender; but in another point—the wish to prove that Robert the Bruce was a nearer heir to the Scottish crown by feudal usages than John Baliol—he failed. Chalmers, who can see neither talent nor honesty in Logan, and no defect in Ruddiman, observes, that "it required not, indeed, the vigour of Ruddiman to overthrow the weakness of Logan, who laid the foundations of the government which he affected, either on the wild fables of Boece, or on the more despicable fallacies of Buchanan;" but the fables, which were satirically noticed by Logan, were subjects of serious consideration to the grave critic. Ruddiman brings against his opponent the charge, frequently made on such occasions, of "despising dominions, speaking evil of dignities, and throwing out railing accusations against kings, though the archangel Michael durst not bring one against the devil himself, whom our author, I hope, will allow to be worse than the worst of our kings." [Ruddiman’s Answer, 27.] This was, at least, in some degree, complimentary to Logan, and the critic, proceeding, tries to preserve, for the ancestors of Charles II., both their length of line and their virtues, and is anxious to show that, at least, such as cannot be easily saved from the censures of Buchanan and Logan, were not lineal ancestors of the great Charles II. In point of philosophy, Ruddiman’s work cannot well be compared with the several pamphlets of Logan, although even the arguments of the latter against divine right, would now be considered too serious and uncalled for, by any power of defence. The different pamphlets will be found accurately enumerated in "Chalmers’s Life of Ruddiman." Logan was the more restless and determined of the two, and continued his attacks until 1749, when both had reached a period of life fitted for more peaceful pursuits. Logan died at Edinburgh on the 13th of October, 1755, in the seventy-seventh year of his age.


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