James Beattie Bibliography

Original Poems and Translations 1760
This was Beattie’s first book, published when he was twenty-five, although some of the poems had first appeared in the Scots Magazine between 1756 and 1759.
An Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth in Opposition to Sophistry and Scepticism 1770
A German translation appeared in 1772. The Essay was reprinted over 20 times in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Beattie attacked Hume by putting him in the same company as Hobbes and Spinoza. Joshua Reynolds celebrated Beattie’s essay with an allegorical painting, entitled “The Triumph of Truth”, depicting Beattie standing with his book under his arm and watching an avenging angel sending three demons - one of whom is Hume, and another Voltaire - into hell.

Beattie’s defence of orthodoxy against Hume’s rationalism, based on sociological rather metaphysical arguments, became widely popular.

“Beattie was no intellectual giant, though his writings are said to have had some influence of Kant, mainly (it is to be feared) in transmitting a faulty view of the achievement of British philosophy. But his ambitious assault on the philosophical basis of deism was widely welcomed. Oxford University presented him with an honorary degree, George III awarded him a pension, and Sir Joshua Reynolds painted a controversial scene of Beattie vanquishing Hume, in the ‘Triumph of Truth’. Beattie’s celebrity was symptomatic of the times, though not every defender of the faith met with such universal approbation.” (Langford, A Polite and Commercial People, p. 469-70).
The Minstrel; or, The Progress of Genius 1771
Published between 1771-74 The Minstrel became a popular poem on the progress of genius, in Spenserian stanzas, which inspired many early Romantics.
Dissertations Moral and Critical. On Memory and Imagination. On Dreaming. The Theory of Language. On Fable and Remorse. On the Attachments of Kindred. Illustrations on Sublimity 1783
Evidences of the Christian Religion; briefly and plainly stated 1786
Essays and fragments in prose and verse. By James Hay Beattie. To which is prefixed an account of the author?s life and character 1794