Hugh Blair Criticism - Essay

Anonymous (essay date 1800)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Dr. Hugh Blair," in Public Characters, or Contemporary Biography, Bonsal and Niles, 1803, pp. 237-49.

[In the following excerpt, originally written in 1800, the author describes the development of Blair's career as a preacher and a scholar, noting that he was "regarded as one of the rising literary ornaments of his country."]

He [Dr. Hugh Blair] was completely and regularly educated at the University of Edinburgh, where he took his degree of M. A. and entered into orders in the year 1742. The medical sciences, even before that period, had begun to be taught in that illustrious school with eminent ability and success. Pure and mixed mathematics were then...

(The entire section is 2733 words.)

George Saintsbury (essay date 1900-04)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Blair," in A History of Criticism and Literary Taste in Europe: From the Earliest Texts to the Present Day, William Blackwood & Sons Ltd., 1949, pp. 462-5.

[In the following excerpt, originally written between 1900 and 1904, Saintsbury praises Blair's Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, but finds his view of literature to be narrow.]

Hugh Blair, … in 1759, started … the teaching of modern literature in his own country. He had the advantage, as far as securing a popular audience goes, of lecturing in English, and he was undoubtedly a man of talent. The Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres,1 which were delivered with...

(The entire section is 1007 words.)

G. H. Cowling (essay date 1925)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The English Teaching of Dr. Hugh Blair," in Anglica: Untersuchungen zur englischen Philologie, Mayer & Muller, 1925, pp. 281-94.

[In the excerpt below, Cowling lauds Blair's method of literary criticism and his approach to teaching English composition.]

Dr. Hugh Blair (1718-1800), a graduate of Edinburgh and minister of St. Giles' Church, was the arbiter of taste in polite literature in the northern capital, and the friend of Robertson, Hume and Adam Smith. The most celebrated preacher of his day, he published several volumes of sermons, praised most highly in that age for their sound morality and their 'continuous warmth', and valued even more perhaps for...

(The entire section is 4706 words.)

E. C. Knowlton (essay date 1927)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Wordsworth and Hugh Blair," in Philological Quarterly, Vol. VI, No. 3, July, 1927, pp. 277-81.

[In the essay below, Knowlton asserts that Wordsworth followed Blair's suggestions for revitalizing pastoral poetry as set forth in the latter's Lecture XXXIX of Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres.]

In earlier papers I have set forth suggestions concerning Wordsworth's relations to the type of literature which has been denominated "pastoral."1 The term has narrow as well as broad meanings. It may be used to include any literature connected primarily with country life. It may refer to the sort of treatment which shepherds and other herdsmen received...

(The entire section is 2199 words.)

R. W. Chapman (essay date 1931)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Blair on Ossian," in The Review of English Studies, Vol. VII, No. 25, January, 1931, pp. 80-3.

[In the following essay, Chapman examines correspondence written by Blair and London bookseller Thomas Becket, which discusses the terms of payment and final corrections for the publication of A Critical Dissertation on the Poems of Ossian, Son of Fingal.]

The correspondence printed below, which came lately into my possession, does not seem to have been published. It perhaps deserves record for its Ossianic interest and as pleasing evidence of the manners of the age.

Macpherson's first Ossianic publication, Fragments of Ancient Poetry, Collected...

(The entire section is 1192 words.)

Morley J. Mays (essay date 1942)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Johnson and Blair on Addison's Prose Style," in Studies in Philology, Vol. 39, No. 4, October, 1942, pp. 638-49.

[In the following excerpt, Mays summarizes Blair's criticism of Joseph Addison, illustrating Blair's methods of literary analysis and principles of style.]

Of the critics in [Joseph] Addison's own century who pronounced on his style none was more approving or more exhaustive in his treatment of it than Dr. Hugh Blair. Blair was the minister of the most distinguished pulpit of eighteenth century Scotland, that of St. Giles' Cathedral, or, as it was commonly known, the High Church, in Edinburgh, and arbiter elegantiarum of Scottish letters in...

(The entire section is 2164 words.)

Robert Morell Schmitz (essay date 1948)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Chapter Two," in Hugh Blair, King's Crown Press, 1948, pp. 17-38.

[In the excerpt below, Schmitz describes Blair's role as the editor of Frederick Carmichael 's Sermons and of the first complete edition of the Works of Shakespeare published in Scotland.]

Vita Sine Litteris Mors

One should not assume for a moment that a clergyman of the "Moderate" persuasion would confine himself to church matters. The "Moderates" were devotees of the many-sided life, and were anxious to display their intellectual wares. "Moderate" clergymen essayed poetry, history, philosophy, mathematics. The Scottish literary revival of the eighteenth century...

(The entire section is 1436 words.)

Harold F. Harding (essay date 1965)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Introduction to Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, by Hugh Blair, edited by Harold F. Harding, Southern Illinois University Press, 1965, pp. vii-lx.

[In the essay below, Harding outlines the main ideas in Blair's lectures and appraises the man and his work from a twentieth-century perspective.]

For well over a century beginning about 1760 Hugh Blair markedly influenced writers and speakers, teachers and students in Great Britain and in America. He was well known as a university lecturer on rhetoric and belles lettres, as a preacher to a fashionable Edinburgh congregation, as an editor and literary taste maker, and indeed as the shaper of the style of...

(The entire section is 8251 words.)

Herman Cohen, Edward P. J. Corbett, S. Michael Halloran, Charles W. Kneupper, Eric Skopec, Barbara Warnick (essay date 1986)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Most Significant Passage in Hugh Blair's Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres" Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Vol. XVII, No. 3, Summer, 1987, pp. 281-304.

[In the collection of essays below, originally presented at the 1986 Speech Communication Association convention, six experts on Blair discuss what they feel is the most significant passage in his book Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres.]

Herman Cohen, The Pennsylvania State University

The passage which I have chosen as the most significant in the works of Hugh Blair is one which might seem very obvious. It occurs at the beginning of Lecture X. It reads as follows:


(The entire section is 9130 words.)

John Dwyer (essay date 1989)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Clio and Ethics: Practical Morality in Enlightened Scotland," The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, Vol. 30, No. 1, Spring, 1989, pp. 45-72.

[In the following excerpt, Dwyer discusses Blair's sermons in light of his influential role as a Moderate preacher and champion of sensibility.]

Recent work on eighteenth-century Scottish culture demonstrates the significance of practical moral concerns within a relatively backward economy experiencing the tensions associated with modernization. In his magisterial Church and University in the Scottish Enlightenment, Richard Sher argues that the Moderate clergy of the Church of Scotland helped to...

(The entire section is 2587 words.)

Thomas Frank (essay date 1990)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Hugh Blair's Theory of the Origin and the Basic Functions of Language," Papers from the 5th International Conference on English Historical Linguistics, Cambridge, 6-9 April 1987, edited by Sylvia Adamson, Vivien Law, Nigel Vincent and Susan Wright, John Benjamins Publishing Company, 1990, pp. 165-87.

[In the following essay, Frank examines Blair's ideas on the nature, history, structure, and development of language.]

In the history of English studies, the figure of Hugh Blair, the Scottish divine and prominent member of the Edinburgh literati of the second half of the 18th century is of particular interest. When he was appointed Regius Professor of Rhetoric...

(The entire section is 6196 words.)

H. Lewis Ulman (essay date 1994)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Words as Things: Icons of Progress in Blair's Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres" in Things, Thoughts, Words, and Actions: The Problem of Language in Late Eighteenth-Century British Rhetorical Theory, Southern Illinois University Press, 1994, pp. 117-45

[In the following essay, Ulman analyzes Blair's rhetorical theory, paying particular attention to his presentation of language and his view of words as "things," such as "objects of art and icons of aesthetic, intellectual, and cultural progress."]

Whether we consider Poetry in particular, and Discourse in general, as Imitative or Descriptive; it is evident, that their whole...

(The entire section is 12591 words.)