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The Scottish Nation

SCOUGAL, a surname derived from lands of that name in Haddingtonshire.

Of this surname there were two eminent painters in Scotland, called the elder and the younger Scougal. The former flourished in the reign of Charles II., and imitated Sir Peter Lely in his drapery. He was very successful in likenesses, and there are portraits by him in the possession of many old Scottish families. He had a son, George, whom he bred a painter. The latter was known by the name of the younger Scougal, but as an artist he was greatly inferior to his father. For some time after the Revolution, he was the only portrait painter in Scotland, and his great amount of business seems to have caused him to adopt an incorrect and slovenly manner, totally devoid of expression. His carelessness occasioned many complaints amongst his employers, but his contemptuous answer was that they might seek another; well knowing that there was none to be found at that time in Scotland.

Of the family of Scougal of that ilk, was Patrick Scougal, who was bishop of Aberdeen from 1664 to 1682. He was the son of Sir John Scougal of Scougal, and in 1636 he became minister, under the Episcopal system, of the parish of Dairsie, Fifeshire. In 1645 he was translated to Leuchars in the same county. In 1659 he got the living of Salton in Haddingtonshire, and on 10th April 1664 he was consecrated bishop of Aberdeen. Keith says he was a man of great worth, and Baillie calls him “a good and noble scholar.” He died in February 1682, at the age of 73. He was one of the early patrons of Bishop Burnet, who has commemorated his piety and learning. A portrait of Bishop Scougal is preserved in King’s college, Aberdeen, of which he was chancellor. An engraving of it will be found in Pinkerton’s Gallery of Scottish Portraits. There is also a curious sculptured figure of him in the cathedral of Old Machar. He married Margaret Wemyss, a Fifeshire lady, and had by her three sons and two daughters. John, the eldest son, was commissary of Aberdeen. Henry, the second son, was the author of the work, called ‘The Life of God in the Soul of Man,’ a memoir of whom follows; and James, the youngest son, succeeded his eldest brother as commissary of Aberdeen, and was in 1696 appointed one of the judges of the court of session, under the title of Lord Whitehill. He appears also to have studied medicine, as he translated from the French a work on Anatomy, and published a treatise called ‘The Country Physician.’ Katherine, the elder daughter, married Alexander Scroggie, bishop of Argyle; and the younger, Jean, Patrick Sibbald, one of the ministers of Aberdeen. Bishop Scougal’s brother, John, was also a lord of session from 17th February 1661, to January 1672, under the title of Lord Whitekirk.

SCOUGAL, HENRY, an eminent religious writer, the second son of Patrick Scougal, bishop of Aberdeen, above mentioned, was born about the end of June 1650. His birthplace is usually supposed to have been Salton in East Lothian, but it is more likely to have been Leuchars, in Fife, where his father was minister from 1645 to 1659. He early displayed great progress in learning. Of a sweet and mild temper, he mingled little in the plays and diversions usual among boys, but as his biographer, Dr. Gairden, assures us, “employed his time in reading, prayer, and such serious thoughts as that age was capable of.” It is said that his choice of the ministry was determined by his having one day taken up the Bible, and opening it at random, the first words that caught his eyes were these: “By what means shall a young man learn to purify his way? By taking heed thereto, according to thy word.” He was educated at King’s college, Aberdeen, and, besides Latin and Greek, he acquired Hebrew and other oriental languages, and obtained an acquaintance with history, mathematics, and logic. He took his degree in 1668, and was immediately selected to teach the class of one of the regents who was occasionally absent. In the following year, at the age of nineteen, he became professor of philosophy in the same university; and according to Dr. Gairden, he was the first in Aberdeen, if not in Scotland, who introduced the philosophy of Bacon into his class. From his youth and the mildness of his temper, he does not seem to have been able to preserve due authority over the students, and as some disorders arose in his class, the ringleaders were expelled. In 1673, he resigned his chair, and was appointed to the pastoral charge of the parish of Auchterless, Aberdeenshire. The year after, however, he was chosen unanimously by the clergy of the diocese, to fill the chair of theology in King’s college. In compliance with the custom of the age, he printed a thesis on his accession to this chair, entitled ‘De Objecto cultus Religiosi.’ He died on the 27th June 1678, in his 28th year. He was the author of an eloquent and able work of practical piety, entitled ‘The Life of God in the Soul of Man, or the Nature and Excellency of the Christian Religion,’ first published without his name, in 1677, with a preface by Bishop Burnet, and several times reprinted. A French translation of it was published at the Hague in 1722. In 1726, an edition appeared with ‘Nine Discourses on important subjects,’ by himself, and a sermon preached at his funeral by George Gairden, D.D.

Scougal is said to have died of consumption, but Pinkerton, in his own sarcastic way, quotes a tradition which affirms that he had unfortunately become attached to a married lady at Aberdeen, and “died in the struggles of virtue and passion.” He adds, “He had grown so corpulent in his retreat, the steeple of the Cathedral church of St. Machar at Old Aberdeen, that his executors were forced to extract the body through a window.” He was buried in the chapel of King’s college, where a tablet of black marble, with an inscription in Latin, was erected to his memory. He left several manuscripts in Latin, particularly ‘A Short System of Ethics or Moral Philosophy;’ ‘A Preservative against the Artifices of the Romish Missionaries,’ and an unfinished treatise ‘On the Pastoral Cure;’ besides some ‘Occasional Meditations,’ which were not published till 1740. For the cathedral of Aberdeen he composed ‘the Morning and Evening service.’ He bequeathed his library to King’s college, with five thousand merks to increase the salary of the professor of divinity in that university. A portrait of Scougal is preserved in the college hall. It has been engraved in Pinkerton’s Iconographia Scotica.

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