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Significant Scots
John Ogilvie


OGILVIE, JOHN, D. D., a poet and miscellaneous writer, was born in the year 1733. His father was one of the ministers of Aberdeen, and he received his education in the Marischal college in that city. Having qualified himself as a preacher, he was settled, in the year 1759, as minister of the parish of Midmar, in Aberdeenshire, where he continued to exercise his useful duties till the close of his life, in 1814. With the exception of the publication of a book, and an occasional visit to London, the life of Dr Ogilvie was marked by hardly any incident. The list of his works is as follows: "The Day of Judgment," a poem, 1758; a second edition of the same, with additional poems, 1759; "Poems on several Subjects," 1762; "Providence, an Allegorical Poem," 1763; "Solitude, or the Elysium of the Poets, a Vision," 1765; "Paradise," a poem, and two volumes of poems on several subjects, 1760; "Philosophical and Critical Observations on the Nature, Character, and various Species of Composition," 1774; "Rome," a poem, 1775; "An Inquiry into the Causes of Infidelity and Scepticism in all Times," 1783; "The Theology of Plato compared with the Principles of the Oriental and Grecian Philosophy," 1793; "Britannia," an epic poem, in twenty books, 1801; and "An Examination of the Evidence from Prophecy, in behalf of the Christian Religion," 1802.

The name of Ogilvie is certainly not unknown to fame; yet it cannot be said that any of his numerous works has maintained a place in the public eye. To account for this, one of his biographers makes the following remarks: "Ogilvie, with powers far above the common order, did not know how to use them with effect. He was an able man lost. His intellectual wealth and industry were wasted in huge and unhappy speculations. Of all his books, there is not one which, as a whole, can be expected to please the general reader. Noble sentiments, brilliant conceptions, and poetic graces, may be culled in profusion from the mass; but there is no one production in which they so predominate, (if we except some of his minor pieces,) as to induce it to be selected for a happier fate than the rest. Had the same talent which Ogilvie threw away on a number of objects, been concentrated on one, and that one chosen with judgment and taste, he might have rivalled in popularity the most renowned of his contemporaries." [Lives of Eminent Scotsmen, ii. 137.]


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